Lauren Miller, Class of 2006
Senior Leadership Recruiter at Tesla *
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the Louisville area and went to Sacred Heart Academy. Go Valkyries!
I loved to play volleyball, tennis and swim. I’ve always loved interior design and art projects.
Growing up, we took a lot of trips in the conversion van, so I’ve actually been to 45 states! Today, my partner Anand and I try to travel as much as we can, but we usually choose a plane over the van :).
I was the kid wearing tie dye and reminding everyone to recycle, which is probably why I ended up at Tesla!
How did you wind up at UK? Why did you select Psychology as your major?
My dad went to UK and it was only about an hour drive from our house in Louisville. After many university visits across the country, I decided UK was the place for me. I was able to transfer credits from high school, liked the school size and that my family were only a short drive away.
I originally chose psychology because I found it interesting but learned it’s a wonderful base for a career in Human Resources.
Tell us a little bit about your first job, after graduation.
My first job was at the General Electric Lamp Plant in Lexington as a HR Intern. The plant environment was a great way to learn about policy, safety, benefits, employee relations and recruitment. It quickly became clear why HR was an amazing path for a psychology major. I was able to apply my new understanding of employee motivation, communication methods and the importance of using data to make business decisions.
My plan was to continue down the research road through a PhD program at one of the graduate schools I’d been accepted to because of my research at UK. However, I became increasingly interested in the application of psychology in HR and realized I wanted to work with people and help businesses grow. I decided against the PhD programs and completed a MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
How did your major prepare you for your career?
In addition to gaining an understanding of motivation and how people work, I learned about the power of data through my course work and research. As an Executive Recruiter, I use data to determine how we need to diversify teams, what backgrounds have been successful in certain fields and what outreach works best. My team and I are constantly recalibrating, so we can find the best talent.
What were you looking for when you went on to work for Tesla? What is your favorite part of your current role?
I like the idea of leaving the world better than I found it so Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy really resonated with me. I wanted to work for a fast-moving, mission-driven company where I could quickly make a difference.
I currently help build teams at Tesla in a variety of functions globally. It’s inspiring to speak with people who have achieved so much in their short careers. I love learning from candidates and exploring other cultures. I’ve recently been spending a lot of time recruiting leaders in China, a country and culture I knew little about previously. I feel I become a stronger recruiter each time I work in a new part of the world.
What is the best interview question you were ever asked?
“Teach me something”
What advice do you have for current undergraduates?
Intern and try out different career paths. Nobody knows exactly what they want to do when they start college because they’ve never actually done it! It’s okay to explore and change your mind.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” - Amelia Earhart
I was nervous moving 6 states west to San Francisco, but wanted the opportunity to recruit for technology companies I felt were making a difference. Today, I love working with people from around the world who don’t know much about UK (outside of KFC and basketball) and showing them what Wildcats can do!
Please share anything else about your time at UK and/or your career.
My mom remembers she was surprised when I chose UK because I’d traveled long distances to visit lots of schools. I ultimately decided UK had everything I needed. I was able to explore different career paths through internships, research opportunities and the huge number of course options. I had an amazing experience at UK and wouldn’t change a thing. Go Cats!
*Company and job title at the time this article was posted