Friday, August 7, 2015

Rotational Programs - What is it?

While getting my degree, I knew that there were a lot of options for full time jobs. Very typical option straight out of college is to just get a full-time job in your field of study.  A lot of my engineering friends are plant team managers or in charge of large amounts of money at financial firms or consultants in various fields like healthcare or IT. These are jobs that are very well-paying but focused on a single area. For example, a consultant in healthcare may get different projects within health care but there is not a set deadline for projects to end or a guarantee they will do different things in each project.

With an industrial engineering degree,  you can work in many fields:  engineering, financial management, consulting, or analysis to name a few. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be in manufacturing after my last internship thus that narrowed my focus a bit. I did not want a full-time job that boxed me into one role right away and that's where rotational programs come into play.

A rotational program is a full-time program where you switch jobs every certain amount of months to try out as many positions as possible within the company. In each of these rotations, you'll usually have a project or two to manage while getting the flavor of the site or plant you're located. For example, my rotational program is most likely four 6 to 8 month long rotations at different plants around the world. My friend's boyfriend's rotational program is three years and three locations. Another friend of mine it has all of her rotations within one plant but for different businesses and areas within that location.

For most rotational programs, there is a theme or segment of the business that you keep rotating through but some programs are just trying all of the different segments within a business. For example, my rotational program is within Quality. Several other options are Operations, Sales, Finance, Engineering and Supply chain.

An important part of any rotation programs is the educational classes. They want to develop the new hires into leaders for the business so they will make you take classes to improve your knowledge of their business or even segment. In my rotational program, I have to complete a Six Sigma Black Belt because that is very important to the quality of our business. Statistical analysis is very important to figuring out the quality of your manufactured parts. Other rotational program have the students in engineering classes, sales classes, or public speaking classes to improve their skills in the areas that are important to the business segment. 

Most established rotational programs have many students within their network at different stages of the program.  For example, my program has about 10 students within it right now but history of over 10 years and about 10 students/year. This provides us an alumni network within the company of people who know the experience that we are going through as well as making sure there is new talent being cultivated in the company. Other programs have varying numbers from 3 to 100, depending on the company. 

A great thing about rotational program is that they provide a mentor for you within the company can teach you the company culture or about different segments of the business that you are not in. Most of the mentors have a lot of business experience which is very helpful for new people. For example my mentor is a super cool guy who is the vice president of Operations for a section of our company. I love emailing him questions about things I'm learning in my six sigma class and his visions for the company future. Some programs also assign you a younger mentor that you can ask about program or silly new hire questions that you don't want to ask your boss.

Lastly, what we all really worry about after graduation - pay! Rotational programs pay the same amount as a full-time job but you are basically in an internship like experience. Most people out of college are making good money but cannot change roles very easy in the beginning. Usually from my network's experience, it takes at least a year to move roles within a company unless you are really exceptional at your job. I really like my rotation program because it allows me to try for different plans for different roles within a 2 to 3 year time span.

There are some cons to rotational programs. One common one is location. Some people do not like rotational programs because they force you to move to a completely new city or completely new state or country without too much prior notice. Another one is hating a rotation - the project sucks or the people at the site are just not vibing with your personality. Most people say that a terrible 6 month rotation can teach you what you like and what you do not ever want to do again. Others say that it kills their soul and their desire to work at a company. It's all in your perspective for me - if you are positive, there is something learned from every experience away from home or with weird people.

In conclusion, I think that rotational programs are really the way to go for people who are willing to travel around the country and get new experiences while being in a full-time role. Email me if you have any questions! 

No comments:

Post a Comment