I recently had a conversation with a colleague who asked how I got into the Human Resources profession. The answer is the military.
I got drafted into the US Army after graduating from college. I went through basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and then got assigned to a Military Assistant Advisory Group (MAAG) in the Panama Canal Zone. The base was located on a mountain overlooking the Canal and Panama City. The MAAG consisted of a 6-10 person staff representing every branch of the armed services—Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. We supported a Four-star General and his staff located at the Quarry Heights facility, who was responsible for providing HR administration services for all personnel in the Southern Command (Central and South America, and the Caribbean), especially as it related to monitoring assignment transfers and tracking and documenting pay grades and compensation based on changes in rank.
I was very comfortable working with and supporting senior officers, and discovered that I really liked the work, so my interest in Human Resources grew. The physical surroundings and culture of the operation probably helped because an assignment like this was very close to a civilian life style. There were no detail requirements or restrictions. For example, we had to wear uniforms at work but could change to civilian clothes after hours.
By the time I was honorably discharged, I had received the rank of E-5, the highest rank an enlisted person could attain in two years. I was encouraged to re-enlist, but wanted to pursue a career in Human Resources. I got an opportunity to do just that when I returned to the States. Control Data Corporation (now Ceridian) recruited and hired me for a HR administrator position. I got experience in all the functional areas and eventually was promoted to Corporate HR General Manager; then I left the company to start my own business, Robinson-Robinson & Associates, an executive search firm. I had never really thought about it all these years, but getting drafted introduced me to the Human Resources profession and opened the door to my development and success in the field. It ended up being both a good experience and great opportunity for me.