K-State graduation year: 2004
Degree: BS in industrial engineering; minor in business administration
Current employer: General Mills, Inc.
Position: Team leader/project start-up manager
How many times did you change your major during college?
Describe the process of choosing your major:
My high school math and science teachers encouraged me to pursue engineering because math and science were my strengths. Upon deciding to attend K-State, I researched their engineering programs to decide which field I was interested in. Based on reading descriptions for each department, I decided industrial engineering was the best fit for me personally. And I was right: I never regretted my decision.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
Institute of Industrial Engineers
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
Yes. I completed two summer internships in my field, one after my junior year and one after my senior year. I graduated in four-and-one-half years, so that last semester of school afforded me the opportunity for a second internship.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
Both of my internships during college were working for General Mills. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and show the company your skills and work ethic. I spent a lot of time preparing my resume and interview skills for the All-University Career Fair, and it paid off because that’s how I got my first internship with General Mills. I received an offer for a second internship at the end of my first summer, and I then received a full-time job offer at the completion of my second internship.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
No day is typical in manufacturing. I work as a team leader in a breakfast cereal plant and am responsible for the daily production during my shift. I have a team of 40 people who report to me. We work 12-hour shifts and rotate between days and nights, so my shift starts at either 5 a.m. or 5 p.m. depending on the rotation.
I'm in charge of overall coordination of the production schedule, changing equipment from one product to another, cleaning and sanitation, equipment maintenance, and the quality of our products. My team runs the equipment and produces and packages the products. Recently I’ve been working a regular Monday through Friday schedule, and I'm working with the project engineers at our plant on the installation and startup of new packaging lines.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There’s never a dull moment. It’s satisfying being responsible for producing some of the best-known breakfast cereals in the world. I work for an excellent company with great people, salary, and benefits.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Shift work is difficult and can put a strain on your personal/family life and your sleep schedule because you sometimes have to work evenings, nights, and weekends. Learning how to be “the boss” to employees who are my parents’ age or older can also be challenging. That never-a-dull-moment quality is great at times, but it can also be stressful because of the constant changes.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
It isn't easy to get an engineering degree, but your hard work and many hours studying will be worth it in the end.
While I really enjoy working in a manufacturing environment, it isn't the right fit for everyone. I suggest you go on plant tours or complete internships to see if the environment will work for your career.
Industrial engineers also work in many different fields, such as health care, supply chain management, logistics, and consulting.