October 14, 2021

Inside Smartcar: Jackie’s journey to a career in HR

Jackie Leary

People & Operations Associate

Hey there, I’m Jackie, and I’m a Recruiter at Smartcar! Have you ever felt like you didn’t know what you wanted to do next in your career? A lot of us have. I wanted to share my learnings that ultimately led me to a new journey at Smartcar.

Understanding my interests and skills

I graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in business. I was particularly interested in industrial and organizational psychology. I enjoyed learning how people function within an organization and was eager to find a job that gave me the opportunity to create a collaborative and motivational workplace culture.

Throughout college, I worked full-time in retail management — and I could not be more thankful for that experience.

Anyone who works or has worked in the service industry can probably attest to this, but two of the most important skills I’ve learned are having empathy and exercising patience. I consider these “skills” because it requires constant practice to consistently apply this when managing relationships with others.

These skills have been extremely valuable for me in the Human Resources and People Operations field to better understand the perspectives of others. Overall, the years I spent working in retail has made me a more well rounded person and better prepared for a career in People Ops.

Taking on new experiences

My first job out of college was in Human Resources for a manufacturing company. I had the amazing opportunity to work in a generalist role, taking on challenging projects and collaborating with amazing people across teams. But a year into the role, I began experiencing a familiar feeling many of us go through  at the start of our careers: not knowing exactly what we want.

I loved being in HR, but I was becoming more curious to explore new challenges in a new industry. Mathilde from Smartcar just so happened to reach out to me at the perfect time!

Smartcar was looking for an Office Manager to tackle a wide scope of projects, from event planning to office operations and so much more. The opportunity intrigued me.  Working as an office manager at a startup could lead to endless avenues  for growth, and it was a challenge that I was eager to take on.

Working at Smartcar

Within my first few months at Smartcar, I was able  to plan company offsites, build a plant wall, and implement new processes for managing budgets and inventory. I expressed interest in learning more about the People Ops side of the business and began partnering with Mathilde in Smartcar’s recruiting efforts! Venturing into new responsibilities turned out to be a rewarding experience —I found my niche and was promoted to People and Ops Associate within my first year.

I’m currently  working on everything within recruiting, people, and operations. The best part about my days at Smartcar? Monotony is never an issue. I regularly take on  different projects and learn more about how the business operates as a whole. While the bulk of my focus is on people and operations, I’ve also gained cross-functional experience through helping the sales team, writing blogs, and assisting with month-end operations.

What I’ve learned along the way

What surprised me the most at Smartcar is the autonomy we all have to accomplish our goals. Everyone I’ve met has been smart and driven, passionate about the product, and genuine in their relationships with others. This teamwork has helped me grow into my role and continues to push me to tackle new and exciting responsibilities.

Our People & Ops team is empowered and agile, with both Mathilde and myself leading projects with freedom and confidence. We’ve introduced new initiatives to reinforce our company culture, including a chance for me to take the reins on planning our quarterly offsites (Luckily, the Smartcar team has been pretty receptive to my crazy ideas!).

If you’re interested in learning more about open roles, check out our careers page or reach out to Mathilde and I with any questions!

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