Courtney McCarthy began her Yale career in 2013 as a support specialist in HR Employee Relations. Since then, she has worn many hats within the HR organization—that of recruiter, manager, labor recruitment assistant director, and now, assistant director in the department where it all started, Employee Relations.
We recently caught up with Courtney to talk about her time at Yale, the impact of the pandemic on her work, and why the best advice she has ever received is “never say no when it comes to taking on new tasks or assignments.”
What is your job/role at Yale?
I just accepted a new position in Employee Relations as an assistant director overseeing the University Collections and Scholarly Communications units. I have recently been working as an assistant director on the Staffing and Career Development team overseeing the labor and temporary recruitment areas.
How long have you worked at Yale? Tell us about your career path at Yale.
I have been at Yale for almost eight years. I started here in January of 2013 as a support specialist in Employee Relations. I was interested in learning more about functional areas of HR, and an opportunity for a recruiter role opened in the Staffing department, and I went for it! Once in Staffing, I was fortunate enough to move through several different positions gaining experience in recruitment for Services & Maintenance, Clerical & Technical, and Police and Security employees. From there, I went on to manage the Interim Employment Pool and Yale Temporary Staffing Services. My experiences in these staffing roles positioned me well to take on the assistant director role supporting Labor Recruitment, which I have held for the past few years. I am now transitioning back to Employee Relations as an assistant director supporting the Scholarly Communication units.
How has the COVID pandemic impacted your work?
The pandemic has changed how we work in so many ways, but it has been amazing to see how the university has shifted to thrive in this new environment. For me, the use of Zoom became a norm, and I actually felt that I had more ‘face time’ with clients than I had previously while on campus. That was one benefit of this working remotely for me, and I hope to continue to use it from time to time when we are back on campus.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a very small town in Massachusetts, Spencer. A little west of Worcester and about 15 minutes from Sturbridge – this town of 11,000 people is not a very notable town for anything other than being the residence of St. Joseph’s Abby. St. Joseph’s Abby is a monastery that you may be familiar with if you’ve ever seen Trappist Preserves jams in the grocery store. They also recently started brewing Spencer Ale, which can be found in select stores. Spencer was an awesome place to grow up with friendly neighbors, a caring community, and lots of land and trails to roam.
What was your very first job?
During my freshman year of high school, I got my first job working as a helper at a local frame shop, Spencer Frameworks. A few afternoons after school, I would walk from my high school to the frame shop to do some light cleaning and organizing. I was afforded my first shot at creative problem solving when I recommended to the owner that she institute a bar code system on each of the frame samples to scan the sample so that it would come up automatically in the computer, reducing errors and saving costs. She loved the idea, and I spent an entire summer setting up each frame in the system and printing and applying a bar code to it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice that I’ve received is to ‘never say no’ when it comes to taking on new tasks or assignments. Now, of course, you need to balance workload, so sometimes you may need to say no, but in general, if your manager or other leader asks you to take on something new, you should try to accommodate doing it. You may wonder why they chose you, you may wonder if you have the right skills to do the job, and you might wonder if you’re even interested in the work – but do it anyway! They picked you for a reason, and sometimes these responsibilities align you for something in the future that you haven’t even thought of yet. Also, some of the least glamorous and interesting tasks that you perform are the ones that might stand out to leadership and make them recognize that you are a true team player.