Starting Over at 41
Starting a new career is never easy, but imagine being female, from the boomer generation (meaning I was an older applicant), a first-time mom, and oh yea, doing it alone. I feel very blessed; my life journey and career choices have taken me many places. I have had the opportunity to meet dignitaries, celebrities, and sports superstars, as well as being afforded many opportunities to do interesting things, all of which have helped me grow professionally.
The broadcast industry was my first career. In San Francisco, I had a top-rated and highly celebrated morning radio program with a fabulous radio partner, Dean Goss. The “Goss and Garrett Show” rocked the City by Bay for just under 10 years. Due to personal reasons, I decided to move back to Arizona, ending a radio career that had me riding a bull in the rodeo, being a clown in the circus, jumping out of a plane from 10 thousand feet, and having the time of my life interviewing and hob-knobbing with some of the world’s biggest celebrities, all while reporting and entertaining listeners.
Back at home in Arizona, I took a job with the local ABC affiliate in Phoenix, Channel 15. I reported the traffic for the morning news with a live cut into Good Morning America. I co-hosted a local television show “Sonoran Living.” Again, I was meeting celebrities, interviewing chefs who cooked unbelievable dishes for viewers to make at home, and travelled to places to cover stories about people doing amazing things. Then, at 41, I became a first-time mom, and decided to take some time off to think about my next career move.
After my daughter was born, I stayed home with her for the first six months; she had seizures and they were having a hard time determining the cause. When I finally decided to go back to work, I really wanted to find a company I could grow with. The one aspect of radio and television I did not like was the lack of stability. I began researching successful companies that would not only provide the stability I was looking for, but would allow me to do something I could feel proud of. A relative recommended USAA to me, so I researched USAA online. The noble mission, the core values that guided all the company did for its members, really resonated with me. The brave men and women in the military, who willingly put their lives on the line to protect our country, were the members USAA served. Our members are the REAL celebrities in life, although none of them would ever admit it, because to them it is their job.
I have now worked at USAA for more than a decade, and when I started I had the opportunity to talk with these men and women daily, helping USAA fulfill our mission by protecting their financial security. I started as a part-time phone representative, which allowed work life balance given my daughter’s health situation. Even part-time I had medical benefits, an employee assistance program, and a Child Development Center (CDC) located right on campus so I could be near my daughter. When I then made the switch to begin working full-time, I was making starting pay and as single mother day care expense left me with very little. USAA helped subsidize my day care cost at the CDC making it easier to afford the day-to-day necessities, and as time went by and my pay increased, the subsidy decreased until I could take care of her daycare myself.
USAA believes in creating conditions for people to succeed, and I am proof of their commitment. I have attended Management Candidate School for future leaders; I have been apart of our Military Affairs Program, where employees go out to meet the wonderful men and women we serve at events and help them understand the benefits they are entitled to by being a USAA member. I have worked on various projects that have taken me to other offices to share and collaborate with other employees. My 11 years have had me doing many different jobs, and currently I am an instructor with USAA. I train and facilitate New Employee Orientation, New Member Solutions (our acquisition teams) training, and Insurance training for both new and incumbent employees. USAA strongly supports diversity and inclusion, which means I have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of wonderful individuals, where everyone is included and our thoughts and ideas matter.
I am currently back in school (thanks to USAA) pursuing my graduate studies in leadership. I am not sure where my career will take me over the next 10 or more years, but I do know it will be with USAA, a company that has a standard we live and work by. The USAA Standard is to keep our members and mission first, create conditions for people to succeed, be authentic and build trust, innovate and build for the future, purposefully include diverse perspectives for superior results and live our core values: Service, Loyalty, Honesty, and Integrity with our members, co-workers and our community. I am proud of the choices I have made in my life, especially the one when I said yes to working for USAA!
My name is Erin G. and I am USAA!
Story provided by Erin of USAA’s Phoenix office.