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Meet Trailblazer Chelsea Jensen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Jensen.

Chelsea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved out to Denver about five years ago and have yet to look back. I’m originally from Buffalo, NY which is where I grew up and went to college. I attended Niagara University for my undergrad and graduate degrees ultimately receiving my MBA with a concentration in Human Resources. I chose Human Resources because I wanted to be at the core of managing what makes every organization successful – the people!

Looking back, I was really lucky to have landed a paid internship at a local credit union during my junior year of undergrad. At the time, it was during the recession when there really weren’t many jobs available. I started working there as a marketing assistant, but once the COO caught wind I was interested in HR, she immediately started giving me HR work. A lot of people ask me how I was able to build my HR career and honestly, you have to start from the bottom with the not so fun things first. Phone screening, employment verifications, HR record keeping, writing job descriptions, etc. are usually some of those not so fun tasks.

After working at the credit union I was hired as an HR assistant to work at a large bank. There, I moved up from an HR Assistant to a Benefits Coordinator, and finally to a Benefits Specialist. I had a big interest in training and asked my boss if I could start teaching the full day orientation sessions. To prep, I joined my local Toastmasters group to practice my public speaking. I kept getting better with each orientation session I taught and continued to want an HR job that had more variety than just benefits.

Long story short, my aunt’s dad retired from the organization, Employers Council, where I currently work in Denver. She told me if I was ever interested in talking to her dad, she would put me in touch with him as he still had contacts at the organization. For months, after talking to my aunt, I stalked the Employers Council website. I wanted to work there and be a trainer. I was nervous to reach out; I was stepping outside of my comfort zone. In Buffalo, my husband (Drew) and I literally lived across the street from his dad and around the corner from my mom. We had a beautiful home, our families were close, and we wanted for nothing. However, I always had a desire in my heart for something more. I used to look at the sidewalk in front of our home and wonder, “Is this the rest of my life?” My husband gave me the final push to give my aunt’s dad a call. We spoke and he put me in touch with a few people at Employers Council, including the woman who would become my boss. After speaking on the phone with her she invited me to come out to Denver and interview as she had two positions open. I agreed, not realizing it would be the most intense interview of my life thus far – three days, multiple people, an assessment, and a presentation for my whole department on the last day. After the final day, Drew and I flew back home to Buffalo.

About a month later, I received a call from a 303 number. I remember pulling over into a 7-11 parking lot and being offered one of the HR Consultant positions. I had such mixed emotions, I was excited and nervous (which generally means your on the right track!) and said yes. I called my husband, of course, he was really excited. We packed up as much as we could into a big van, sold our home, and headed West to Denver.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road at all. I’ve experienced so many challenges since moving to Colorado- including financial struggles (it’s expensive here!), marriage challenges, and starting a new job. All of that said, the struggle lets me know that I’m on the right track because I’m growing. John Maxwell says, “Growth is uphill.” Struggle is part of the process when you want to live the life of your dreams. Growth will require you to continually and intentionally step outside of your comfort zone.

When I started working at Employers Council as an HR Consultant and Trainer, I was the youngest person on my team, and quite possibly at the time, the youngest employee at the whole organization. During my first few weeks, I had a colleague tell me they thought I was the intern. It was intimidating to speak up in meetings and have an opinion on a team of former HR managers and directors. They were all gracious and kind but had way more experience than I did.

A few months into my new job, it was time for me to start teaching classes to our members, mainly HR professionals and managers. The majority of this group again was older than me, and some of them very seasoned. I was excited and nervous, but wondered, Am I credible? Am I too young? Will I add value? Will people think I’m not qualified to teach? Do I know enough? To be honest, the first few classes I taught were pretty clunky. I was extremely nervous and doubted my abilities, I also did not get rave reviews on my feedback sheets.

Shortly after I started training a few classes, one of my former team members gave me her binders of training materials. She was planning on retiring and I would be taking over some of her classes. I was still in a phase of defeat with training and started to flip through her materials to seeing if there was anything that could possibly help me.

Every class binder I opened had the sticky note in it that said, “I am enough.” She used it as a reminder before starting every class that she was enough. It dawned on me that I needed to shift my mindset. Instead of doubting myself, I needed to start believing that I WAS enough to teach a class. Did I know everything? No, and that was ok! Was I younger? Yes, and age doesn’t matter! People probably made (and still make) up assumptions about me, and I stopped caring. I was there to teach them HR topics and be myself. As humans, we are not perfect. That simple mindset shift made all the difference. I started teaching classes with way less stress. The more I do it, the better I get at it. I now teach 11 different classes and I love every minute.

I have continued my former colleague’s tradition. I have a sticky note at the beginning of all of my class binders reminding myself that I am enough. For those out there reading, know that in whatever season you’re in, YOU are enough to get through whatever it is. You’ve got to make the mindset shift and start believing it!

There have been struggles with my side hustle, chelseajensen.com, as well. Aside from keeping up with all things writing, website, etc., when talking about self-development, there is a level of vulnerability and courage I need to have. This piece doesn’t come easy for me, and if sharing the struggles and what I have overcome helps one person that will make my heart happy.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I currently work as an HR Consultant and Trainer at Employers Council helping lots of organizations with their Human Resources. I work with a variety of employers and conduct training on topics such as interviewing and hiring, business essentials, as well as employee engagement and retention. I teach eleven different HR related classes and speak at conferences. I love helping employers make their workplaces better. We spend the majority of our lives at work and if I can help make people’s work life better that will help them live better and that gives me so much fulfillment.

As much as I do love my current job, I have a side hustle out on chelseajensen.com that strives to help people live better with posts related to self-development and healthy recipes. I try to fill my social media with things that will inspire, motivate, and help people on the journey to becoming their best selves. In the near future, I plan to start a podcast with the same intention, write a book, and eventually get into coaching. Stay tuned!

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
It’s amazing how much of our childhood affects who we are today and honestly, I may not have realized if it wasn’t for over a year of therapy. I’m an only child and my parents divorced when I was in the fourth grade. My dad moved to Florida and I lived with my mom who worked full time. I was really independent because I had to be. I was praised for being positive and happy, and only now do I realize that I was burying negative emotions in an effort to make sure I wasn’t a burden to my parents. I am still a very positive person, but I now realize that it’s ok not to be positive all the time. Being able to understand my past better and how it impacts me now has been a huge growing experience for me. The more I trust and accept myself, the more my confidence builds. I feel lighter in a way because I’m not pretending to be someone that I’m not. It’s ok to be me! My childhood definitely impacted who I am today and who I strive to be moving forward in life, and although it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it gives me the drive to continue helping people live better and be their true selves.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Drew Jensen Photography, Steve Stanton Photography, Mason Weston

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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