By Randi Mays
For many teenagers, the path to self-reliance starts in one of two places: a restaurant or retail store. Until it’s time to begin a professional career, you’re working that part-time job stocking shelves, helping irate customers with expired coupons or prepping for the dinner rush. I’d venture to say I’m one of the very few who was sad to leave that lifestyle behind.
I worked in the food service and retail industries for 10 years before I attended Codeup. I took great pride in my work every day; I couldn’t go home until everything was near perfect: my work area spotless, the shelves neatly stocked and everything ready for the next shift. When it came time to leave the service industry and move on to professional work, I was initially reluctant. I had found great personal fulfillment and success in customer service. Why would I want to leave?
I have big dreams. Of course I want to travel the world, spending my vacations in exotic destinations, trying new foods, seeing centuries-old architecture, and making lasting memories. But more importantly, I wanted to work for a company with a more widespread mission than gastronomic satisfaction. I wanted to work alongside people with a passion for their work that ran far deeper than a paycheck.
After graduating from Codeup in September 2016, I began working for USAA as a software developer and I can tell you–the company is no stranger to giving. Each employee receives company paid volunteer hours and I used some of mine to volunteer at the San Antonio Food Bank among dozens of other USAA employees. Last year when Hurricane Harvey hit, USAA was quick to organize several volunteer sessions at their home campus to prepare food and other basic necessities to be delivered to people in need. They even have a system where I can automatically deduct a specified amount from my paycheck to give to charitable causes I am passionate about. I have heard story after story about their representatives on the phone going above and beyond their duties to serve members in combat zones and at home. I can’t enumerate here all of the reasons I admire USAA for its community involvement and caring, but I’m sure I’ve made my point.
There are times I look back on my experience in food service and retail nostalgically, remembering how I excelled in those positions and enjoyed the repetitive work. Then I come back to the present and remember how big an impact my employer makes serving the military community and their families, and how many lives are changed by the work I do with my team. I find great personal satisfaction and pride in my work every day, and I am just getting started.