February 12, 2016

Alumni Voices: "I Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone"


In today's Alumni Voices post, Laura Barrett-Hansen (SAS '11) points to how a seemingly random course may have unexpected and serendipitous effects on your plans:


In high school when I was applying to colleges, I was dead set on hospitality management – because, thought my 17-year-old self, who doesn’t love restaurants and hotels?! Rather than going out of state (too expensive) or going to Rutgers-Camden for their hospitality concentration, I settled on (aka, left myself no other choice) Rutgers-New Brunswick. At some point in the midst of advising day and choosing classes, I signed myself up as a Pre-Business major. I suppose I thought that Business School would put me on a perfect path for hospitality management.
Well, let’s just say Calculus and Microeconomics were tragically not my thing, making for a traumatizing first semester. 


When we were registering for the next semester, one of my dorm friends convinced me to sign up for an Intro to Labor Studies class with him. I knew nothing about labor unions or employment relations. This course ended up being so interesting, engaging, hands-on, and practical, that I declared Labor Studies as a major in that same semester. 


Finding the Labor Studies program completely changed my outlook on college and certainly helped my self-esteem after a very challenging first semester. I eventually became a TA for the Intro course. During my junior year I got an internship with a professor who was at the Center for Women and Work, where I met the supervisor whom I still work for today in the Education and Employment Research Center at SMLR. 


Because I took a chance and stepped out of my comfort zone in taking that one Intro course, I have a Master’s degree and full time job here at Rutgers. I never left and I love what I do!


Laura Barrett-Hansen
SAS/SMLR, Class of 2011
Senior Program Coordinator
Education and Employment Research Center
School of Management and Labor Relations