November 9, 2021
Quick Snapshot: My name is Natalia Lebrija and I am the HR Coordinator here at Datto, based in the Norwalk office. I graduated in May 2019 from the University of Connecticut (UConn) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychological Sciences and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies.
You may be asking yourself, “What is Natalia doing at a tech company?” And honestly, I would have asked myself the same thing if someone told me this is where I’d be two years ago. At UConn, I was heavily involved in psychological research and was planning on establishing a career in Clinical Psychology -- or something similar. However, I could tell I envisioned something different for my career, which many of you may (or may not, lucky you!) relate to on some level. Regardless of when or to what extent you experience this, it can generally be quite intimidating to look ahead and envision a plan for your future. In my case as a soon-to-be graduate, my goal was to not only find a job, but to also explore a path that was pretty different from what I had been expecting to pursue for so long.
And so the networking journey begins… Early in my college career, I had experienced a Human Resources internship, which sparked my interest in the field. Before deciding to officially start my search for HR roles, I did quite a lot of networking -- yes to find opportunities, but also to learn more about the various backgrounds, roles, and overall experiences of people already in the field. This was an important discovery for me at the time, as I never thought of networking as being more than an effort to increase your connections -- actually connecting, relating, and learning became essential.
Once at Datto… One of my favorite aspects of my job is the ability and flexibility to work with not only the other HR functions, but also other departments and teams throughout the company. In fact, this partly supported my eagerness to join the Datto Connections Leadership Team, which (humble plug here) itself connected me to new team members to collaborate in a brand new way.
In an effort to place some focus on my learning and development, I realized I needed to reflect further and explore all other aspects of my position, in order to discover my passions. I was also simultaneously interested in determining opportunities that would best support and benefit my team, which was personally an important part of my process. In doing so, I quickly realized how much I loved to be involved in the planning, organizing, and executing of different projects, as well as understanding how nicely these skills fit with my team’s needs. This ultimately led me to realize that I am interested in project management.
The connection… Lucky for me, we have an amazing team of project managers, with whom I was eager to connect with. In my search, I noticed I had mutual personal interests and was working on certain projects with a coworker, to whom I promptly reached out via Slack. Even though we had already participated in some meetings together, I realized we hadn’t officially met, so I briefly introduced myself, explained how I was exploring professional development opportunities, and asked if I could learn more about her experience thus far at Datto. One awesome introductory meeting later, in which we both shared our backgrounds and interests, she offered to connect me with another individual, who I am now shadowing throughout the span of one of her newer projects. This has and will continue to allow me to gauge my interest and skills in project management, as well as show me how I can eventually apply these teachings to my role on the HR team.
To conclude… If it’s not obvious already, I’m a huge proponent of networking, and highly encourage everyone to invest some time towards connecting with their colleagues. You might not even be looking for a change, or you might already have a clear idea of how you can get to where you’d like to be -- or maybe you’re already there! -- but I can almost guarantee you will benefit from it. You’d be surprised by how much you can learn from someone through a simple, friendly conversation. Questions like the initial question you might have asked yourself at the beginning of this post (i.e., why is a Psychology graduate at a tech company?) can spark conversations between you and your colleagues that will promote learning for you both, as well as stronger connections within the Datto team.