Patricia Soriano is a former teacher who has turned her focus to human resources. She is currently working toward her second degree in the field of human resources. Her parents moved from Italy before Patricia was born and she grew up speaking both Italian and English in her home. Patricia put this to use by receiving her Master’s in Education and became an Italian teacher. Although she thoroughly enjoyed enriching the lives of her students, Patricia found herself at a crossroads.
As the demand for Italian teachers declined, Patricia began looking into new fields where she could put her education and passion to the best use. With a minor in psychology and hands-on experience successfully managing high schoolers, Patricia felt human resources would be a natural transition.
Patricia invested in herself, returning to school for a new degree while working full time. In her free time, she enjoys singing and dancing, hobbies she has had since she was young.
How did you get started on the path you’re currently on? What inspired you?
I was drawn to teaching at a young age. Italian was my primary language growing up since my parents moved here from Italy. With the influx of more Spanish-speaking people, that has become the primary second language being taught in schools now. The need for my specialty has decreased and I wanted to move into a new field where I can use the skills from teaching. Human Resource management is similar to teaching in that you are managing a large group and are able to help fine-tune their strengths. There are several other aspects that you can find in both fields. I have always liked helping others and I am adept at breaking things down to make them easily understandable. These soft skills fit in well with a role in human resources, both for the employees and the employer. I can listen to any questions or complaints from employees, as well as concisely explain any policies. Of course, the potential for increased income is another factor that has gone into my decision.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?
While studying in college for my teaching career, there were actually several classes that were canceled due to low enrollment. Had I read the signs then that the career would not be as I had imagined, I think I would have changed then.
What are you doing now that will help your transition into your new field?
I am currently working as a legal assistant while going to school. My professor encouraged this because the HR department works very closely with the legal department in most companies. There are times when the roles can be interchangeable, and I thought this would be a great way to hone my skills even more. As I move into my new role, I believe all of the legal knowledge I am gaining now will make me more marketable. There is the possibility of legal issues with former employees as well as creating and enforcing company policies. An HR manager with experience in this area will be very beneficial to employers.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using to grow your personal brand?
I am doing my best to get my name out there while I am completing my degree. So many companies these days will search for potential employees using a social media platform or Google. I decided it would be a good idea to present myself now with all of my strengths so that once I do fully start applying within the field, I will be easily searchable with as much information as possible available. It’s marketing myself, showing a potential future employer that I am able to adapt to a changing work environment and am fully committed to my new role.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the past few months?
The decision to make this change has been tough. I tried to stay in teaching, but the supply and demand were just not there anymore. I had to make the choice to invest in myself and go back to school for another degree in a completely different arena. I have done the research and found that HR seems to match well with my personality and my skills. I can bring my experiences from both teaching and from my current position to make a positive impact on a company. Taking those first steps was difficult because it was outside of my comfort zone, but you don’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I am an extremely hard worker. No matter what I am doing, I have to do it well. I want to be the best at whatever it is that I do. I will study harder and work longer to ensure my success. When I was teaching, there were many late nights finishing up grading or completing paperwork. I don’t like to leave things undone. Once I start, I have to finish whatever it is. I’ve been this way my whole life and I’m sure it will follow me into my new field.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?
I am very proud that while I was teaching, I was able to begin at an AP level for language. Most teachers aren’t able to start out year one at that level. Even more exciting was how well my students did on their tests. I look forward to creating new moments in my new career.
What does the future hold for your career and what are you most excited about?
I see myself in a management position. I want to make a difference for whoever I work for. I want to help create an open, welcoming atmosphere where both employees and employers are happy. I really believe that I will be successful in human resources because of what I have to offer from my prior career. It’s not easy making such a big change, but I am most excited about my potential for success. I will be in a field where growth is possible and where my day-to-day work can really have an impact. I find that so invigorating.
What books have inspired you?
The Prince by Machiavelli is a popular book in Italy that delves into morals and discusses the right way to handle things. It gets you thinking about yourself and how your behavior can really affect your world. Another book I really enjoyed was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. That one is a bit different, with a focus on “a perfect world” where money isn’t an object and aging doesn’t happen the same way. There is also no pain or love, so the reader is given a lot to think about when comparing to how our world works. It’s very thought-provoking.
What is a recent purchase you have made that helped with your career?
My education is the best investment I have made recently. My textbooks are focused specifically on HR management skills needed to be successful as well as the classes themselves, of course.