Please to mentor me, HiveMind?
May 14, 2010 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Rotational program in a huge company: what kind of experiences should I look for?

I have a mechanical engineering background, but was recently accepted into the operations rotational program at my company (a large defense-contractor). Before applying, I'd been doing analysis and design work, but was not totally in love with the technical side of things. I was also curious about all the other factors that seem to affect my company's business: supply chain/inventory issues, manufacturing/production, business development, risk management, etc. (Side note: other engineers think this is weird.)

I have yet to decide if I'll return to technical work or try to transition to something else immediately after I finish my rotations; it's an early-career program, so I'm planning on using the program to explore a bit and more closely define what I'd like to do in the long run. So for now, I am interested in building the broadest, most widely applicable base of knowledge and abilities possible. I have some freedom to search for my own assignments, and also receive full tuition for a part-time, business-related graduate degree if I choose to go within the next few years.

With all that in mind, based on your working experiences, which skills and experiences should I look to gain during the next couple of years? What do you wish you could go learn or do in a corporate environment if you had the room to search a bit? Also, can anyone who's gone through a part time MBA or operations research degree comment on their usefulness? Quitting my job and going full-time isn't really a feasible option for me.
posted by universal_qlc to Work & Money (2 answers total)
I have an electrical engineering background and have worked in large companies > 25 years. I think that the rotation program you're discussing is great! In addition to the areas you mentioned, I would look at finance and marketing.

I recently got my MBA -- I think it is useful to get a base of managerial knowledge, especially if you want to eventually have profit & loss responsibility -- either by managing your own business or within a large firm.
posted by elmay at 6:50 PM on May 14, 2010

I used to work for a large defense contractor that has this type of program. I was not in it but had friends who were.

Don't over think this. Pick assignments that you think would be enjoyable and beneficial, like picking any other job.

As for trying to learn as much as you can and rounding out your portfolio, I wouldn't worry too much about that. You'll be doing a few rotations, and you'll have to spend a lot of time getting up to speed and training your replacement. That leaves less time for the "real work," but you'll remember the important parts. Anything you don't learn from a rotation you didn't take, you can easily learn later on if necessary. It'll work itself out.

It's really more about graduating from the program than what you learned in it, depending on what you want to do with your career. If you end up leaving Large Defense Contractor, this program may not carry as much weight, for example.

That's why you should absolutely take advantage of the tuition reimbursement. Get a Masters degree now on the company dime if that's really want you want. I think it's much easier the younger you are, especially when it's at no cost to you.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. Based on your location in your profile, we are, at the very least, talking about different areas of the same corporation. More likely, my Large Defense Contractor is not the same as yours.

Good luck.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2010

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