College graduates are eager to switch the tassel from student to professional, but a career for young professionals today requires more than a place to use their skills and pay the bills.
Pauline Ashcraft, a Senior Associate Business Operations Specialist for SAS, knows what it means to find a career that offers something more than a place to spend 40 hours a week. Pauline has packed a lot into her five years with SAS. Her story, which you can read below, will give you a new perspective on what "going to work" means for young professionals today.
The most defining and formative years of my life
I love SAS, but I’ve been trying to dig into why. What is it about SAS that is so unique? As I thought about it, I came to the realization that I grew up with SAS. Your 20s are arguably the most defining and formative years of your life, and I’ve spent all of mine with SAS. Who I am as a person – my values, my career, my passions have been largely shaped by my time at SAS. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today if it was not for SAS.
My sophomore year of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was an English Education major because I loved reading and writing, but I knew that teaching really wasn’t for me. I knew I didn’t want to be a journalist, but I wasn’t sure what other careers existed where I could play to my communication strengths. One day during one of my classes, a communication specialist at SAS came and spoke to my class about her job and the role she played in capturing and sharing SAS’ internal culture and the work that folks are doing, and I instantly knew that was something I wanted to be a part of it.
Shortly after, I got my first internship with SAS assisting with internal communication and business operations for our training and professional services groups, and I absolutely loved it. It was there that I had my first experience being a part of a big company; learning how to be a team player, learning how to develop a good relationship with my manager, and how to speak up at meetings if I see something we could improve. I felt valued and I was able to contribute and work on real projects. No coffee runs, no busy work. I was a SAS employee just like everyone else.
After that summer, I changed to a Communication major with a minor in business because I knew I wanted to support communication for businesses, and not just any corporation, I wanted it to be SAS.
That next summer, I returned to SAS for another summer internship and then was given the opportunity to stay on year-round. After graduation, I was given a full-time role.
Over my past five years at SAS, I have gotten to work on several different teams and have had many great mentors that have truly influenced my life. I met some of my best friends at SAS that are not just coworkers but people that stood by my side at my wedding or have gone on vacation with me to Europe. I’ve developed my leadership skills and gotten the opportunity to people manage by being the lead for our Young Professionals Network. I’ve gotten involved with the local Food Bank because SAS leadership encourages us to use our Employee Volunteer Time Off. Each employee gets 20 hours of paid time off every year to volunteer, so I use my time to help the Food Bank and love it so much, I go every single month on my own too!
As I mentioned, who I am has been completely shaped by SAS, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. SAS had such an impact on my young adulthood that I even included it on my graduation cap and took graduation pictures at the front of my SAS building.
Flash forward to today, I recently found out that I am pregnant with my first child. I know that SAS is going to be there for that milestone too. My team will support me throughout the pregnancy. They will cover me when I am on maternity leave. And my SAS doctors are always there for questions.
As a millennial, I’m seeing my friends constantly change jobs and never stay at a company more than a couple years. At SAS, I can find the challenges I need and the opportunities to grow in house. I’ve worked with our amazing internal career adviser and HR business partners to make sure that I am always feeling challenged and growing. So, in a way, I didn’t just grow up with SAS, but SAS grew up with me too.
This post was written by Pauline Ashcraft and originally appeared as a LinkedIn article. Thanks Pauline for letting us share your story on the SAS Life blog too!