My name is Jasmine Lair and I work in Human Resources as an Operation Manager for a restaurant group based out of New Orleans. I have worked in Human Resources for the past four years. Prior to the start of my HR career, I worked my way up in restaurants from back-waiter, Captain, Bartender, Catering Associate and Restaurant Manager.
It was never my intention to stay in the hospitality industry. Working in restaurants was a means to an end while I tried to decide what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. Initially, I thought of doing something in the medical field. I started prerequisites for allied health programs at Delgado Community College. While I really enjoyed learning about Human Anatomy, I felt like I was setting my site a little low for myself. Like I was capable of doing more. I ended up transferring to the University of New Orleans and began working towards my Bachelor of Science in Psychology. My plan at the time was to apply to graduate school and become an Occupational Therapist or work towards becoming a licensed counselor. With that license, I wanted to mediate custody battles for divorce cases involving children. I have always had a passion for wanting to help those that needed it most.
After getting my degree, I was offered a promotion into management for the restaurant group I was working for and it was an attractive offer. Salary, benefits, bonuses, paid time off. I had never held this type of position. It was not what I had planned, but I was good at the job and it seemed like the right move. A couple years into management, I was offered a position in the Human Resources Department as People Relations Manager. I can remember asking to have the weekend to think it over. The director looked at me like I was crazy. She was offering me nights, weekends, holidays off and I needed to “think about it?!” I went home that night and googled “What does HR do?” Looking back at what I have done in the last four years, especially through a pandemic and Hurricane Ida, that Google search is quite comical! What I should have asked Google was “What does HR NOT do?”
To be quite frank, this industry is HARD. There is nothing static, which makes organization very challenging. Turnover rates stay around 100-120% annually. The group I previously worked for was located in the French Quarter which comes with its own bag of problems. Downtown New Orleans has been put through the ringer in the last two and a half years. First COVID, then taking in all of Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura. Of course next would be Hurricane Ida, which had a direct impact on the city. How restaurants have managed to stay afloat through strict pandemic regulations, rise in crime, a huge hit to tourism.. You can imagine what this has all been like for the human resources professionals in this area.
While I did not plan on a career in Human Resources, this career certainly fulfills my passion for helping those in need. Especially in my industry and geographical location. While I have only worked in HR for the past four years, I feel I have learned so much. This MJ program has elevated that knowledge, giving me more footing, despite the potentially perceived lack of experience as a result in the lack of tenure.