Army Reserves – How My Service Prepared Me for my Career in Human Resources
11/10/13 Nicole Scheinkoenig
Nicole Scheinkoenig is the Compensation and HRIS Manager located in the Milwaukee office.
With Veterans Day approaching, it makes me think back to my days as a Reservist in the United States Army. Quite a few people that know me are quite surprised when they find out that I served for 8 years, enlisting during my senior year in high school. Graduating in the Top 10 of my class, some would say why did you enlist? Well, I wanted to do something different while still pursuing my college degree. I looked at my enlistment as a challenge, both physically and mentally, and the college money was an added bonus. I never expected to get out of it more than just being able to run two miles without stopping and not breaking down in front of screaming drill sergeants. However, in looking back, the Army provided me with so much more, including a strong work ethic and a solid foundation for my future career.
To start with, growing up in a small community, basic training was my first experience with living and working with diverse fellow soldiers. I was in the "battlefield" with male and female soldiers (yes, my basic training was co-ed) of all different racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Although still male-dominated, the drill sergeants and privates all had the same goals and accomplishments, which was motivating and rewarding for all. Upon completion of basic and skills training, my "weekend warrior" job was an Administrative Specialist (71L) in a Drill Sergeant unit. In between physical fitness training, combat training, and earning marksmanship medals, my duties involved preparing and processing health, dental, vision and life insurance paperwork for new soldiers joining our unit and/or for those who needed changes to current benefits. I assisted with the administration of annual evaluations and promotional packets, processed ID cards, and enrolled the soldier and his/her benefits into the system. Hmmm..sounds like some of my current responsibilities. I had started my career in Human Resources and did not even know it at the time. Like my current role at Quarles & Brady, my role in the Reserves required me to prioritize in that I only had two days during the month to get the work done, multi-task, be detailed-oriented, communicate, interact with and respect professional soldiers of all ranks, work with diverse colleagues, and focus on wellness. My service in the Army Reserves also taught me leadership and training skills along with self-discipline. It gave me the push I needed to take me outside of my comfort zone mentally and physically. I think back to when my First Sergeant told me that the most respected Commanding Officer was one that had been in the trenches with his soldiers and was willing to do any of the tasks to lead his unit to success. As a manager, I follow in that officer's footsteps by working right alongside my team members and doing whatever I need to for the team and for the firm.
Overall, my time in the Reserves was an amazing experience. Listening to the Star Spangled Banner makes me feel different now. I am proud to have been a member of the United States Army and am thankful for the jumpstart it provided me for my career in Human Resources. To all of the men and women that have served and to those that are currently serving in the military - thank you for your sacrifices. Quarles & Brady, along with other employers, are fortunate to gain your work ethic and skills.