Ski-U-Mah Life is a weekly feature from GopherSports.com that highlights some of the more than 700 Minnesota student-athletes outside of their athletic accomplishments. This week, senior defenseman Sydney Baldwin of the women's hockey team is in the spotlight.
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Watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “ER” on TV, Sydney Baldwin thought she might like to emulate the characters in those shows. But instead operating next to Dr. McDreamy or diagnosing illnesses in a clinic, Baldwin’s future likely holds a more office-based career.
“I was debating going into being a physician but realized my path was something a little bit different,” Baldwin said. “I had a lot of working experiences growing up (including at her father’s office), and decided to kind of combine those two interests. I found this brand new major that had only been here at the U for about a year or two. I didn’t hear about it through anyone else. I kind of discovered it on my own.”
That major was health services management. She decided to add a second major in human resources development, something she knew about from her older sister, who went into the field. Baldwin got experience with both majors in an internship she did as part of her degree program. She spent about eight months at Home Health Care, Inc.
“It was a really big growing experience for me,” Baldwin said. “I think I learned a lot about where I wanted to be in the future and learned that I definitely wanted to be a little bit more directly involved in a hospital or a health care organization.”
Baldwin described her role at Home Health Care, Inc. as a “bridge” between the human resources and recruiting departments. She performed a variety of tasks relating to both areas, including recruiting, orientation, training and conducting a business investigation about turnover of nurses and home health aides.
“I think that last phase in analyzing different aspects of the business and turnover and performance metrics and employee satisfaction is really interesting,” Baldwin said. “And that ties into the HR aspect of work. That was something that was up my alley and I’d be interested in doing in the future, too.”
As a co-captain for the powerhouse Minnesota women’s hockey team, Baldwin has a chance to show some of her management skills in a team setting. Gophers head coach Brad Frost can see his defenseman succeeding in her chosen career path.
“She’s, first and foremost, extremely organized,” he said. “She’s a planner. She likes to know what’s going on in the future, and being prepared for that. She’s somebody who has a real good personality and will be able to connect with people.”
Baldwin uses a planner to keep track of what she has going on, and in her role with the team she often gravitates toward organizing things. She may be organized, but she’s not a robot. Baldwin also likes to use her creative side and, as Frost mentioned, to be around people.
“Because HR is something I’m interested in and it deals with a lot of people, that also translates onto a team and my personality,” Baldwin said. “I definitely want to make sure everyone’s happy and fulfilled with their play and their life and how everything’s going. I try and ask questions, make sure everyone’s doing okay and stuff like that.”
Outside of hockey, world travel is another of Baldwin’s favorite things. These trips require some planning, but they allow a little more flexibility for exploring and adventure than the athletic and career aspects of Baldwin’s life. Her international destinations so far include Italy, Iceland, Hungary, United Kingdom, Ireland and Finland.
“There’s this quote that if you never travel you only see one page of the book, and I really believe that,” she said. “I think I’ve learned so much through traveling. I have gotten to be a better traveler the more places that I go. I think traveling fulfills me in a way that I haven’t found in a lot of other things. I love being somewhere else. I love the joy of finding new things, new places, new people and experiencing a lot of different things.”
Baldwin has been to London twice, once for a study abroad program and once on a backpacking trip with her sister. She said London and her time hiking and camping in Iceland are two of her favorite travel experiences.
Bali, Switzerland, Australia, Spain and France are on Baldwin’s wish list. She has been trying to refresh her Spanish, but in most countries so far she has been able to get by with English. Always a people person, Baldwin enjoys connecting with people even when they only share bits and pieces of the same language.
“You can always find something to talk about or get to know someone,” she said. “That’s something really special about traveling.”
Baldwin is considering the possibility of combining her love of travel and her future career following graduation. She would love to live abroad for a while to see what it’s like and help her decide where she would like to live after that. Wherever Baldwin ends up working, she believes she found the right field.
“I think with work and life, everyone has a path and a purpose,” she said. “Through my classes and internship, I’ve really found that my path and purpose is helping people in their journeys through health, through life. I’ve really found it rewarding to work in that side of the field. While I may not have a direct role in people’s health, I have a behind-the-scenes role in their health outcomes and the services and care they’re receiving. That’s kind of my dream job.”
Justine Buerkle is an assistant director of athletic communications at the University of Minnesota, and a contributing writer to GopherSports.com and Ski-U-Mah Magazine.
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