Almost four years ago, I was nervously waiting for a call in our CS computer labs at JMU working on my last project before graduating…my phone finally rang! It was my new Program Manager, Susan Gordon Barker offering me an opportunity - a new job in the Information Technology Leadership Program at GE Healthcare.
The months of preparing for my first behavioral interview paid off! A new job! All thanks to my fraternity brother making me aware of an opportunity I first said no to.
Said no? I almost said no to joining ITLP? Was I crazy?
No! I was happy. I had a good job (Shentel), worked with great people, and lived near my family. Taking on a new job meant taking on a new challenge in a new place all on my own. Why change? Because it was time to grow.
Around four years later, here I am, an adult with experiences I wouldn’t have even considered being part of my story that I am so thankful for.
With that being said, last week began a new journey for me, starting a new job in New York City at Northwestern Mutual, so I had to take time to reflect before that new journey begins in earnest.
Top 3 Lessons from the Last 4 Years
1. People are awesome!
Thanks to my three rotations in GE Healthcare and one in GE Aviation, the number of people I connected with was incredible. Working with people from all over the world like India, Budapest, Mexico, France, Poland, and China - especially in the countries I was able to visit (or when people visited the US) - changed my perspective what life was like.
We had a lot of fun teaching each other about cultural traditions, favorite foods to try, Milwaukee Craft Beer, Espresso, or history.
The most important lesson from all of the Hackathon events, happy hours, team dinners, or pressured app studio results comes down to this: people are awesome!
I’ve written about how every one of us has a unique story before - it still holds today.
SN: Check out my Instagram for pictures from the last few years!
2. Learn from others
It wasn’t until after my first rotation, around 2-3 months into my first job after college, that I recognized my inability to take a deep breath, think on a bigger picture, and have the courage to ask for help from those with similar experiences I struggled with.
In other words, why waste time fighting through situations others have been in - especially when they are willing to help you through them?
The people who took time from their schedules to sit down with me over coffee or lunch, conference rooms or offices, I’m grateful.
Time and feedback, two very important gifts one must be willing to give and receive on their journey to achieve.
For my first year, there wasn’t a month that Susan didn’t make suggestions as she pushed me to become a better leader, young professional, and person.
My first assignment leader, Julia, taught me the ropes of knowing the people you work with as a project manager. In my second rotation, Aarthi transformed me into someone who could take presentations head on while I developed my first NodeJS app.
At Cincinnati, in rotation 3, I was part of a mission-based team who took on ingesting data through a process we defined, 6 billion rows later we considered it a success. My last rotation introduced me to agile web development utilizing the Polymer library and led to becoming a Software Engineer after graduating from the program (my other experiences with development at GE were more side projects).
I mention all of this to demonstrate the power of being part of a team - none of the accomplishments from the last 4 years were by myself. It was because of the help (and feedback), the partnership, and mentorship that was offered throughout the journey!
3. Life-long learning through uncomfortable opportunities
I was once asked “What has been the biggest challenge in your life” in an interview.
I responded easily: “Moving away from my family, my friends, my life in the valley to take on a new city as a country boy that had -20-degree wind chills at GE.”
Then he asked, “What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?”
I thought for a second…hmm…”Moving away from my family, my friends, my life in the valley to take on a new city as a country boy that had -20-degree wind chills at GE.”
He laughed: “You would be absolutely stunned how many times that happens when I ask these two questions, usually someone’s biggest challenge leads to their biggest accomplishment.”
In other words, when you are scared, uncomfortable, sick to your stomach nervous, and feeling like the task ahead might be too much for you - STICK TO IT!
That story has stuck with me as an Epiphany Moment. Not only for taking on big opportunities but the importance of having awesome people to help you too!
Reminder: You Don’t Have to be Perfect
I’m back in the uncomfortable stage at a new job. I’m meeting new people, making new impressions, taking on new tech, all the while learning to live in a studio apartment with my best friend.
We’re in the process of making a New York Bucket list and documenting our adventures on the blog.
SN if you visit New York and want to enjoy great bagels, a diverse range of food, or need advice on tourist attractions - please let me know!