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A Day in the Life: Instructional Recruiter Sean Briar Olen

Written by Molly Forman on Jun 17, 2020

Related content: Diversity And Inclusion

This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. Throughout June we’re celebrating Pride month and featuring members of one of our Business Resource Networks: 2Q.

Fueled by a passion for uplifting and making space for marginalized communities, Sean Briar Olen spent their formative years as a street outreach worker for an organization committed to serving at-risk and street youth. They traveled throughout Humboldt County, California, distributing supplies—food, medication, and resources—to the homeless and people between the ages of 10 and 21, all while also facilitating a weekly queer youth group for teens to build community, create art, and have fun together.

Sean has carried that dedication to helping others with them as they transitioned into a technology career at Trilogy, a 2U, Inc. brand. First a teaching assistant who supported students in learning web development best practices and now a recruiter for instructors and teaching assistants, Sean has come full circle.

Today, Sean helps technology experts discover what they have been missing: a fulfilling career that meets their personal and professional goals; a job that feeds their passion for inspiring others and grow their proficiency; a role that Sean knows, from experience, is transformational.

Read on to learn how Sean inspires technology pros to pursue teaching in Trilogy-powered boot camps as well as their perspective on Pride month.

Why did you join Trilogy? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?

I started my journey with Trilogy as a teaching assistant (TA) for our Full Stack Flex boot camp. A wonderful recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn, and it looked like an amazing opportunity to propel my career and create community, as well as refine my skills as a programmer. I was very attracted to the idea of working for a company that valued access to education. As someone who wanted to return to school but was unable to complete another four-year degree, the opportunity to attend a boot camp completely changed my life. I was very excited at the prospect of joining a company where I can be a part of a change that I had experienced. Since being hired as a TA, I transitioned to a role on the Evaluation team conducting final TA interviews, and am now a full-cycle instructional recruiter. I haven’t looked back since!

How would you describe your role as an instructional recruiter?

As a full-cycle recruiter, I have the pleasure of following our instructional staff through every step of the interview process—from the initial interview to the offer call. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know our candidates and staff on a personal level and root for them while they complete their interview journey. I love my job because I get to connect with people every day and give folks the opportunity to enhance and propel their skills while feeling the satisfaction of helping change student lives.

How did you become interested in academia?

I have always valued the importance of education because I believe that knowledge is power. It took me a very long time and several dropouts to complete a bachelor’s degree, but in the end, it was all worth it, and now I am the only person in my family with a degree. I believe access to knowledge and a platform to share ideas are vital for the health and happiness of a community. If I can be a part of that process, then I know I am in the right place.

What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is being able to hire a rockstar candidate and know that they are going to make a big impact on their students and their success. It’s very exciting to give people the opportunity to live out their passions for helping others, knowing they are going to share that passion with students.

What’s your favorite part about working at 2U?

The best part about working at 2U is the community I share with my team members and leadership. I can turn to them for absolutely anything—whether it be work-related or personal. My wonderful teammates are always there to keep me motivated, uplift me, and provide assistance when needed. The past couple of months have been difficult for all of us. Having the support of my work family has been amazing.

How has culture played a role in your career?

Culture is a huge part of my success. It’s very important to be in an environment where I feel I can live authentically as a genderqueer person, and where I know I can thrive and grow.

What does Pride month mean to you?

Pride month represents a myriad of things to me. It’s a time of reflection, learning, and growth. I try to learn as much as I can about the history and evolution of queer culture—everything from other cultures and eras to what’s happening now in our own country. I take this time to reflect and pay homage to the beautiful Black and Brown trans* folk who fought with blood, sweat, and tears to pave the way for me to have the rights and liberties I do today. This month is also a great time for celebration, as I come together with my queer friends and community to share love and joy.

What is your most treasured memory from 2Q, 2U's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Allies Business Resource Network, and why?

I am really enjoying the 2U events planned for this year’s Pride month. The “Celebrating Ballroom” event was especially informative and fun. I learned so much about ballroom culture, and it was wonderful to hear from folks who are from houses and who are icons in the ballroom scene.

What are you doing to celebrate Pride month this year?

Given the events happening all over our nation, I have made a conscious effort to use this year’s Pride month, and every month hereafter, to stay informed and educate myself on the lives and stories of queer people of color (QPOC). That includes everything from providing space for QPOC voices to be heard by sharing stories, videos, and posts on my social media platforms, to reading sci-fi fantasy fiction (my favorite genre) by QPOC. It’s also important to use this time to take action, so I am signing petitions, calling city officials, and advocating for the betterment of my queer Black, Brown, and Asian family. Oh, and of course binge-watching “Legendary” and “Pose.”

Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what are you proudest of?

Jumping into a brand new role headfirst and rolling with whatever challenge came my way!

What advice would you give to someone just starting at 2U?

Be active in your community! Join a Business Resource Network and participate in team-building activities and events.

Are you interested in a job like Sean’s? Check out our Careers page for information on open positions. We’re hiring.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.