Year One In The Working World

My name is Kyle Wood. I am a 2016 Spartan alum with a degree in Supply Chain Management. I am in my first rotation of Whirlpool Corporation's Global Supply Chain Leadership Development Program.

What have you enjoyed most about full time employment compared to undergrad?

I enjoy the new and unique challenges that come with an ever-changing environment. After four years of school, you can master the routine of school with little real challenge: go to class, take notes on the material, review notes in the days leading up to the exam, take exam, repeat. I loved undergrad, but the academics becomes all too routine after awhile. The work place is not like this, and it is refreshing to be faced with new and unique challenges on a daily basis.

What has been the biggest surprise for you now that you've been working full time?

The biggest surprise has been the speed with which the weeks roll by. In my head, I had this vision in which life would slow down after the fastest four years of my life. Well, it did not. In fact, time might even move faster now, as I am finding it is difficult to finish everything I would like in a day of work. I recommend ending every week by keeping a log of the week's wins, major developments, and where your focus needs to be the next week to allow you to hit Monday at full speed.

What challenge(s) have you faced?  How have you overcome those challenge(s)?

The largest challenge I have faced is adjusting my mind-set from the way in which the academic cycle wires you to operate. In school, you are getting constant feedback in the form of exam scores, and the cycle is very static. You see how well you are performing, and you're really pushing for that strong GPA at semester's end, which we all know comes far too quickly. To be frank, I had days in undergrad where I slacked a bit and got away with it. In the working world, you know your career is a lot longer of a ride than a semester or a year, and each day will be different. In work, you are evaluated based on a larger body of work, and you need to show high performance consistently. I have adjusted by changing my mind-set to think long term and big picture, but have ways to connect this to the day to day. I have my high level career goals which I refresh in my head once a month, and I work to link this toward smaller steps within my control. Each day, I focus on 2-3 actionable items that I aim to get done, and this helps keep my fast-paced mind focused and rewarded.

What advice do you have for young professionals about to enter the work force?

I have three pieces of advice:

  • Start adjusting your daily routine around the 8 -5 life. By completing your daily requirements for school during those hours, you will be much more prepared for that lifestyle when you enter the working world. I think college does not prepare you for the real world in terms of scheduling and the habits it creates 
  • Be ready to hit the ground running. By that, I mean be ready to learn and learn quickly, and get a little elevator pitch in your head of how you'll do introductions. You are about to meet all sort of important contacts, so you need to be ready to make a strong first impression
  • The biggest piece of advice, in my opinion, is being the one to ask questions. It's a cliche, but there is no such thing as a stupid question. Accept that you don't have all the answers (hint: you never will) and speak up to ask the questions and learn. One of the best questions you can ask is "why?". Your biggest opportunity for early wins is to question the current state. Use your fresh perspective as a means to question why things are done the way they are, and if that way is the most effective approach

Where can people reach out to you if they have questions?

I can be reached at woodkyl1@gmail.com. Feel free to reach out!