The Unexpected Journey of a Psychology Major That Changed Everything

Hannah HorningBy Hannah Horning, 2017 graduate of The Genius Series

Everyone’s career path is a little different. Mine started with a single conversation. One that took me down an unexpected path and changed everything. The conversation happened something like this:

“You don’t know anything about my business,” said my father, who owns a small independent software vendor (ISV) selling retail and distribution add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics GP, in a stressed tone.

“But I can learn,” I said, eager and desperate for employment.

“Having an intern is more work than you think it is. By the time you understand what we do, the summer will be over,” he remarked. “And then what do I get out of it?” he asked.

The conversation went back and forth like this for hours, as I paced up and down the halls of my dormitory, begging for a summer internship. With only a month left of my freshman year and no leads for psychology internships, this was my last-ditch effort to find employment for the summer. I was running out of time, fast. Yes, you heard that right, I was studying psychology – not marketing – and my current situation wasn’t looking promising.

Several weeks passed, and finally my father reluctantly agreed under one condition. I remember him saying, “I don’t have time to train you myself, so you’re going to have to study and learn on your own.” I happily accepted and was overly confident. You see, I’ve always been a good student, one that can learn from a textbook without any instruction, and I thought that was going to be the easy part.

I finished my freshman year and headed to Tampa, Florida to meet my father and one of his colleagues who was going to supervise me and help as needed. I tried to make sense of vocabulary like ERP, EPP, and PCI compliance. I had heard these terms used many times before by both my parents, who have worked in ERP since long before I was born. But this was different. I was expected to talk and write in this language, which seemed farfetched at the time. I studied and edited outdated collateral for about a month before my endless questions were too time-consuming for my father. As it was clear that I needed a little more guidance, he hired a virtual marketing director from The Partner Marketing Group.

As I started my sophomore year, I decided to add marketing as a minor, so I could build a marketing foundation at the academic level. I had no intention of becoming a marketer after graduation, but I knew it would help me with my current job. Not to mention these jobs were more lucrative than psychology, and I enjoyed it, which is always a bonus.

In the time spent with my virtual marketing director and mentor, Cheryl Salazar, she helped mold me into the marketer I am today. Without her hand-holding – which I’m sure she didn’t knowingly sign on for – and guidance, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I did or made an impact on my father’s business.

By working for my father’s ISV for some time, I gained value experiences, like attending GPUG® for the first time in my adult life – I say adult life my parents often brought my siblings and me to tradeshows at a young age. After my journey ended with him, I accepted a marketing associate position at a Microsoft Dynamics NAV VAR. This was once again an entirely new world with new vocabulary like discrete manufacturing, WMS, and more.

My role with the VAR morphed over time, starting with marketing admin, cleaning up their CRM database, to becoming a content writer. They continued to give me more responsibility, and I started writing. I never saw myself as much of a writer, but it was easy. I could get my thoughts down onto paper quickly, and it seemed to work. I worked with the VAR throughout college and spent most of my time interviewing my colleagues about their role and department. I used their stories to write mostly blogs, but the content was used in various ways. In this unique role, I learned about many areas of ERP that opened my eyes to how these complex businesses run and succeed.

To make a long story short, in my senior year of college, I was faced with the same problem I was faced with as a freshman: I had no leads for a continued path in psychology. I was still passionate about marketing, studying like crazy, and now could easily see myself in a marketing role – in ERP, of course! I contacted my trusty mentor, Cheryl Salazar, and asked if she knew of any open positions. She said she did, one with AvidXchange. As I sit at my desk (at AvidXchange), thinking about my journey, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t know where I’ll be in the future, but I don’t see myself leaving my roots in the ERP world.

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