Part of HYPE’s mission is to help member expand professional and social opportunities by connecting them to other like minded young professionals. The Personal & Professional Development Committee offers a wide variety of events and programs to build personal and professional skills, and to connect with other young professionals. The goal of the "The Road I Travel" blog series is to highlight the unique paths of the committee members, while showcasing the many different tracks one can take in their professional journey. For the first edition of this series, Committee Member Jessica Hinman shares her personal story.
Like so many of us, my educational and professional career path has been anything but one directional. It continues to be twisting and turning adventure, sometimes taking two steps back to move one step forward.
I was accepted to Pace University in NY upon my high school graduation in 2001 on a partial academic scholarship. Although I had a great freshman year education and a true college “dorm” experience, even with working before and after classes I continued to scrape by and pay for remaining tuition costs, living expenses and coursework books (yes we had those back then). I realized rather quickly that I did not want to graduate college tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and made the decision to return back to New England and attend local schools.
Fast forward to 5 years later, with academic scholarships and 2-part time jobs I received my Bachelors from Central Connecticut State University in 2007. During my time at CCSU I was a true commuter student, but readily took advantage of campus workshops and seminars and studied abroad for 1 year in Edinburgh, Scotland. Being a local university there was also the advantage I could continue my martial arts training, which I had put aside during my first year at college.
At the point of my graduation, I was already a regional shift supervisor for Starbucks Coffee Company. I had started my employment there the fall after I turned 16 and to this day is one of the best companies to work for. At age 18 with Starbucks I had full medical benefits, tuition assistance, and stock in the company, which was nothing short of tremendous given that I had been financially independent since age 16. My role within Starbucks was to help train and build the new store locations in CT and NY. It was a great way to build management and training experience, and meet a diverse group of people.
In addition to Starbucks and my marital arts training I began freelancing in marketing with the aspirations to go on to graduate school. In 2009 I was recruited by Nordstrom and from 2010-2013 was a division manager within their Westfarms location and a “Selling is Service” regional market trainer for the Northeast.
In 2013 I was recruited by Williams Sonoma, Inc. and Pottery Barn as a manager and Design Services regional market trainer. From 2013-2015 I worked between the Danbury, Westpor,t and Westfarms locations managing the store’s operations and sales while teaching and certifying the Design Services teams.
During my last year in retail management I began to understand that my experience, training and education could be used in different capacities and to better the community. Since I was a teenager, I had been heavily involved within Greater Hartford educational organizations and desired to steer my career in that direction.
To proceed with the next step in my career and forward my education I reconnected with former college professors, professional colleagues and community members for insight and recommendations. During those conversations there were also stark truths and honest disclosure about the trials and tribulations that I would face in this transition. Over the course of a year I researched graduate programs, participated in workshops and seminars on nonprofits, and conducted numerous meetings. In September 2015, I was connected with Hartford’s Camp Courant through a colleague and I have been the Director of Community Outreach & Special Events since November 2015. This position has also allowed me to continue my education and my martial arts training. I’m currently completing my Certification in Nonprofit Management from UCONN and continue to teach and train in Tang Soo Do karate. - Jessica Hinman