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Career Center

Levi Starkey

K-State graduation year: December 2012 
Degree: Operations and Supply Chain Management
Current employer: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Position: Agricultural Development Officer

How many times, if any, did you change your major during college?

Three times, I went from industrial engineering to secondary education before settling in the college of business

Describe the process of choosing your major.

I enjoyed the challenge of the business classes and the”real world” application that the problems presented.  I enjoyed the professors and seen myself utilizing the knowledge in a wide array of businesses.  I didn’t want my degree to limit me, knowing that I enjoyed change, I sought out a broad degree that I could choose the focus in my profession

What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
  • Worked 30+ hours/week
  • Operations and Supply Management Club
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?

If so, please give a brief description of your experience.  I did not complete an internship, but I did work for KSU athletic department as a student supervisor and was able to exercise my knowledge that I was learning in the classroom.

Describe the process of finding your first job.

I utilized the career fair to find my first job out of college.  The interview process was long, stressful, but fun.  Remembering that finding a job that fits your personality was the biggest thing.  I interviewed with many companies that weren’t a good fit for me and it wasn’t because I didn’t have the knowledge. I chose BNSF because it best fit me.

Briefly describe a typical day at your job.

A typical day in my job is never typical; I get to interact with many people and help them solve issues and develop work plans for them. I also deal with the arrival and departure plan of trains into Lincoln Terminal.  The exceptions that I get to deal with is what makes my job exciting like: derailments, new hire conductors, train rides, safety testing, and crew issues.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people and the field experience.  I enjoy working around heavy equipment and the people that operate it.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

The people.  The challenge is what makes it so enjoyable.  The perpetual change keeps your own personal development a priority.

What advice would you give someone interested in your field?

The railroad is a lifestyle.  It is not a 9-5 type job. It will challenge you daily, but the challenge is what makes the job fun; also the challenge is what makes it a lucrative career path.

What were the stepping stones that led to your current career?

I have worked construction and supervisory type positions since I was in high school. I feel this job was a natural progression.

How have any changes in your life situation affected your career path? 

My wife has always been supportive of the changes we have made.  This career path necessitates open communication with your spouse.

What were the major lifestyle changes your first year out of college that made the transition hard from college to the world of work and how did you adapt?

Adjusting to the money increase was a big change.  The most important thing is to have a financial goal and stick to it before you adjust to the increase in pay.  Remember your 401k and start early. Seek out financial advice from people that you see as successful.

What was the one thing you did in college that has had the most impact on your life or career?

Seek out a mentor(s).  They will have a positive impact on your life.  I still keep in contact with many of the mentors that I had during college. They will become friends and help you beyond college. 

What tips do you have for current undergrads about opportunities they should definitely take advantage of while they are in school?

Enjoy your experience; enjoy the education and enjoy the social aspect, but remember to foster the education piece first.

Was there a specific class you remember that sparked your interest in your career direction?

I don’t believe that one class defined my career path, but a class that has defined the type of professional that I strive to be was my business ethics class (Management 596).

Was there a specific person in college who had a significant impact on your life or career?

Dr. Ehie has driven my desire to continue my education beyond the classroom.

What didn't college teach you that you wish you would have known before you started your career?

I felt KSU College of Business prepared me for what to expect. 

Do you keep in touch with your college classmates? How have those relationships influenced your career?

I keep in touch with a few of my classmates.  They have become good friends and we talk about struggles and successes in our chosen careers and how they relate to each other.