One of the most exciting days of my life happened about a year ago.
That morning I had an interview for my bachelor’s degree thesis, and in the afternoon I planned to drive to Dusseldorf for an interview with Rockwell Automation.
Since you are reading my blog post, I’m going to guess you have figured out that I was successful on both counts!
I am a bit of a technology junkie – I love engineering – but I couldn’t see myself sitting in an office all day. That is one of the reasons why I decided to study for a degree in economics and engineering. I wanted to get out on the road. I wanted to travel and meet people and immerse myself in as much engineering as possible. For me, commercial sales was the way to go.
At university you are part of a big family of like-minded individuals – most of whom are the same age and have the same short-term goals. So the idea of working in the big scary world of business can be very daunting.
All of a sudden, you are pushed out of your comfort zone and into a universe where attitude, knowledge, personality and demeanour count for everything.
Some of you soon-to-be graduates and young professionals might be curious: How did I get here? And how am I doing?
Well, for me, it all started with a trade show. I like to think I was more prepared than my peers. I printed some business cards and hit the show floor at interpack 2017.
I discovered the Rockwell Automation booth and immediately started talking to one of the staffers, who introduced me to loads of other people on the stand, including a graduate from the previous EMEA graduate programme.
I was part of the October in-take that year, starting my career as a commercial engineer along with other graduates. As the year progressed, more people joined the programme and we very quickly formed the same family-like team mentality.
This grew outwards too, as I was introduced to more people in the company. It fostered a feeling of belonging and camaraderie, and I have already developed some great friendships that I am sure will last for many years.
My thesis had been for an engineering company that was local to me, and they used Rockwell Automation hardware and software, so I was familiar with the Logix programming environment. I was able to get a motor running properly in 10 minutes. By this stage I knew it was time to use these skills in the real world.
Today I am working from a home office – another thing I enjoy about my job – and I have travelled extensively throughout Germany, working on customer projects with account managers.
I have even gone full circle by helping a student at a customer with his thesis. My colleagues treat me as an equal. And I still know that I can’t do everything – but they are always willing to help and have a real interest in helping me develop my skills.
In my current role, I am also learning about the personal relationships that you can form both internally and externally.
From the introductory cutlery-free African meal we had on the first night of the graduate programme, to seeing the delight on the face of a customer as he was presented with a Santa made of sausages by his account manager last Christmas, you slowly come to realise that it is personalities and relationships that make the world go round.
Sure, a degree helps, but if you don’t treat people well, you will not get very far. And that is why it is important to find a company where respect flow both ways.