This article accompanies School Daze.
Raudel Perez didn't get interested in an HR career by any conventional means. His interest wasn't sparked by an undergraduate HR class and he didn't find himself doing HR work at an internship.
Instead, it happened when Perez coached women's volleyball, spending two years each at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas, and Henry M. Gunn Sr. High School in Palo Alto, Calif.
Running the teams (he was the head coach at Gunn, a junior-varsity coach at Hendrickson), Perez dealt with a multitude of different personalities, helped facilitate learning and development, and made sure his athletes and coaches pulled together under the same vision, he says.
Not to mention dealing with parents, the administration and even organizing a fundraiser to buy new uniforms.
"I felt as if I was running my own small business being the head of volleyball program," Perez says.
He was doing his best to motivate everyone, but felt like he needed plenty more training.
"I couldn't pay coaches more money because that was set in stone and I couldn't pay my athletes because they were student athletes, but I was still trying to find ways to reach out to them and get the most out of them," he says. "I felt as if I was missing some of the leadership qualities I needed to get the most of the people that were working for me."
Perez became more and more interested in his skill gaps and began looking for not only a way to fill those gaps, but he wanted to find a career where he could utilize those skills. Then he found HR.
Perez enrolled for a master's degree in HR at the University of California at Los Angeles and plans to graduate in 2011.
"It's quite the unusual path," he says.