Hailing from Boston, MA Ashlie Tyler is a self-starter who has demonstrated leadership throughout her career that has landed her a seat at the decision-making table that many won’t see while in their 20’s. Ashlie has both the eye for talent and the drive to influence the generation behind her. Her passion to be a resource to young professionals navigating the job field is pretty admirable, we couldn’t wait to share her story with you! Read on to learn more about Ashlie’s inspiring journey.
Name: Ashlie Tyler
Hometown: Boston, MA
Education: B.A. Duke University
Undergraduate Major: Psychology
Current Company: SAGA Innovations
Current Job Title: National Director of Recruitment
If you went to a Historically Black College/University (HBCU), why didn’t you attend a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and vice versa?
I didn’t come from a neighborhood of “college bound kids” so I relied heavily on my mentors to steer me to the “right schools.” When my mentors – Black, White, male, female – would talk about the schools I should apply to, the conversations were centered around the ivies and “like ivies” – Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Stanford, etc. Thus, those were schools I gave the most attention. In reflecting on my college experience and not having gone to an HBCU, I do believe I made the right decision for me.
Why did you choose the college you went to?
I was fortunate enough to get into several really good schools. My top three were Duke, Harvard, and Brown. I decided not to go to Brown because I recalled hearing something about how the students created their own majors and I thought that would be too overwhelming for me. Alas, my decision came to deciding between Duke and Harvard. Being from Boston, I knew that if I wanted a “true” college experience, I would have to go away because, if I didn’t, it would be too easy for me to come home when things got hard. Also, in speaking with Harvard and Duke alumni, I noticed – and it still holds true to this very day – I’ve never met anyone who said, “I love Harvard and I would go back tomorrow if given the opportunity.” Whereas Duke alumni LOVE Duke.
Luckily, I had the chance to visit both schools before making this decision. For me, Harvard felt mentally, physically, and emotionally cold. Nothing about Harvard’s campus said “you belong here.” At Duke, I was instantly consumed by all that is Duke – the big beautiful chapel, the gothic architecture, the academics, and the athletics. Duke stood out because it could offer me an A+ education and activities to keep my mind occupied, in addition to my studies – Blue Devil athletics. And finally, I received a scholarship that made Duke much more affordable than Harvard.
How did you pay for college?
Initially, I received a scholarship to be in the School of Engineering. That scholarship and the internship I received after my freshman year (as part of the scholarship) really set me up to make my time spent at Duke affordable. However, I decided to leave the School of Engineering and had to give up the scholarship.
But, as I tell many students, paying for college gets a bit easier when your family is really poor or very wealthy. Many top colleges are actively seeking to make higher education more affordable for low-income families. When you’re wealthy, paying isn’t typically an issue. Middle class families are the ones that truly bear the burden of paying for college. When I lost my scholarship, financial aid helped to keep my mind off the money; I received the bulk of my aid in grants and other smaller scholarships. I also saved money from my internship, worked during the school year, and interned every summer. In total, I graduated with about $20k in loans for a $200k education. I cannot complain one bit.
What organizations did you join while in college?
In college, I joined The Girls Club (TGC) and the Psychology Major’s Union. I held e-board positions with both organizations. TGC was most influential to my career because it helped reaffirm the importance of mentorship and working for youth. Although my first job out of school wasn’t student/child focused, I knew that’s where I ultimately wanted to be.
Most influential college professor and/or course?
There isn’t any single professor or course that was the most influential. In the spirit of, “it takes a village,” there are a number of people at Duke who helped to change and/or shape the course of my academic career. First and foremost is Dean Connie Simmons of the Pratt School of Engineering. Dean Simmons recognized that I was struggling the first semester of my freshman year. She had me meet in her office, every week, until the end of the semester to ensure I was on track and that I would be able to continue on to the next semester.
My mentor Dr. Megan Golonka and professors Dr. Melvin Peters, Dr. Deborah Gold, and Dr. Linda Burton each supported me in different ways. Dr. Golonka was my mentor during an internship and always kept up with me, even until today. Dr. Peters was the one person on campus I could tell all of my personal issues. His mentorship truly helped me to keep my academics in focus, even when my home life wasn’t so great. Dr. Gold and Dr. Burton both helped me to understand family, especially my own. This was extremely helpful because though I tried to focus on me, school, and college life, I would always be torn, wondering about the wellbeing of my family back in Boston.
Was interning helpful to landing your current position?
While I don’t think interning was helpful with landing my current job – I am several years (and positions) removed from school – I do think internships helped me decide against going to law school, put me on the path to where I am now, and made me a more attractive candidate from the outset. I’ve interned at a venture capital firm, a major international law firm, and as a research assistant (writing my own paper) over the summers in college.
What was your first job out of college?
The October after graduating from college I landed my first “real” job as a Recruitment Coordinator on the Asset Management Recruitment team at Fidelity Investments.
What’s your favorite college memory?
My greatest college memory is the night my best friend was given to me. Given sounds like such an odd term but I was a sophomore and she, Kelly, was a freshman. A mutual friend of ours – a football player – came up to me and said, “Ashlie, this is Kelly. Kelly, this is Ashlie. Ashlie, I’m leaving her with you because I trust you to take care of her and to introduce her to the right people. If I take her around people will think there’s more to it.” Since that moment I’ve been toting Kelly around like my child and our love has grown so much. Instantly I felt it was my duty to care for her and I still do.
What is a typical workday like for you?
It honestly depends on the season… During career fair season, I’m on the road, almost a different city 3-4 days of the week, presenting at various college career fairs. On the weekends I’m typically running our final round interview process. During the “down” season, I’m mainly working from my home office or taking meetings to wrap up hiring and/or to plan for the upcoming season.
Unconventional or Conventional career path?
When I first started out, I used to think that my career was unconventional because I did not know any recruiters nor did I hear about recruitment as a career outside of athletics. My impression of hiring was more so staffing, that companies hired to fill a role, and seats were just seats. I never thought about the “recruitment” aspect of hiring – competing against other organizations, making your candidates feel wanted, giving them an accurate picture of the role, etc. – and just how many dollars go into filling a seat and retaining that hire – especially for organizations who want to grow from within. Now that I am a recruiter, I see so many people who work a job and transition into recruitment years later. I’m also meeting more and more college students who want to go right into recruitment after college, which is a new trend that makes me excited.
Has being Black affected your career?
In some spaces, I would say that being Black has given me more credibility than my white peers. For example, at one organization, my job would send me to the HBCU career fairs because of the “immediate connection” I’d have with students. Though not necessarily true, I believe there are a ton of employers who do the same, it’s important for students of color to see people who look like them in leadership positions at organizations they are considering for employment. It also doesn’t hurt that I was once just like the very kids my organization serves; people definitely pay more attention when you have lived the experience.
What substantial moment marked your greatest career highlight?
This actually happened fairly recently… I was running a recruitment idea by our VP that would cost us several thousand dollars and he said, “Ashlie, you’re the National Director of Recruitment,” you make the final decision and I realized, in that moment, that I was truly free to create SAGA recruitment in the way I saw best fit for the organization. I felt so much power and a tremendous amount of responsibility all in the same moment.
How did you receive insight into your career? Do you have a mentor?
Mentors are important. I have a few who give me advice about various aspects of my career –about working in the nonprofit space, whether or not to go to business school, how to be productive, network, present myself, my resume, etc. Most of my mentors have been in my life for years so they can truly speak to Ashlie the person and Ashlie the professional. Having that connection helps a lot.
What has been the most challenging moment of your career?
A constant, and probably the biggest, challenge I face is managing the great expectations of my role without having a consistent team to help me accomplish my goals and dealing with the “unknown” which is an everyday part of my job.
What advice would you give your undergraduate self?
Learn to study, plan wisely, save more money, and LET HIM GO!!
How do you escape on the weekends?
By cleaning my house – cleaning is so comforting to me.
Coffee or Tea?
Favorite nail color?
Most shades of pink
#TeamNatural or #TeamRelaxed?
#TeamNatural but I am not the woman to say “I will be natural forever.” You can have healthy relaxed hair, just as you can have unhealthy natural hair.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Put yourself first in all that you do.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be?
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Favorite Quote (or lyric)?
“With her head held high, bleeding and bruised and pale, Is the woman who will win and fate defied, For she isn’t afraid to fail.” Test of a (Wo)man –unknown