A wise man once told me all great stories start with “So there I was.”
… So there I was… the year 2019 and I was enjoying my last few months as a student at Arizona State University. Like most students in their senior year, it was time to figure out what my next steps in life would be. But unlike most of my friends, I had little idea of what career path I wanted to pursue.
It seemed like such a big choice to make, and I wasn’t sure where to begin. Luckily, I was able to find a program that aligned with what I wanted to do.
Read on to learn more about my career path, and insight into my Cross-Functional Leadership Development Program (CFLDP or LDP) journey and how it’s provided me and many other recent grads a successful career path.
Before diving into my experience with this program, let me give you a little of my background. My name is Ethan Barlow, and I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. For college, I made my way to Phoenix, AZ where I attended Arizona State University. Here I decided to major in Engineering Management with a focus in Industrial Engineering.
One fateful day during my senior year, I was exploring my profile on Handshake. I then noticed I received a message from a recruiter from a company named Schneider Electric. This message described the company was launching a new rotational program which aimed to give its members the opportunity to gain cross-functional business experience over a 3-year period. This program allows participants to experience 3 different roles, in a variety of business units, and in locations all throughout the United States. After reading this, I knew I had found what I wanted to pursue and would do anything to make it happen.
Learn more about career opportunities with Schneider Electric.
What Interested Me About Schneider
While this program seemed like a perfect fit, it was only right to determine if Schneider Electric was going to be a good company for me. Prior to applying, I was not familiar with the company and what they did. There were two key things I was looking for in my future company: a company that performed well in their respective markets and strived to provide opportunity for growth and development. I was highly attracted to the fact Schneider Electric has an extensive portfolio of products and offerings and is a market leader in many of those spaces. Additionally, they have acquired many other renowned brands over the years. You can really see a Customer First mindset in everything the company does.
I was also drawn to the focus on development the company possessed. From what was visible on the web and the interactions I had with people throughout the interview process, I could tell the company truly valued their employees. It was apparent people were truly proud to say they work for Schneider Electric. Now, 3.5 years later, I can certainly say the same. The fact that this development program exists is proof that Schneider Electric wants its employees to grow and thrive!
My Development Program Experience
One of the most unique parts of our development programs is the rotational element. As part of the Cross-Functional Leadership Development Program (LDP), employees rotate through a variety of roles to gain experience and exposure in different areas. Below is a snapshot of my time in the program and my specific rotations. However, there are many different roles and locations available across the country.
- Rotation 1: Inside Service Sales Consultant – US Services
West Kingston, RI (July 2019-June 2020)
- Rotation 2: Transformation Project Manager – Digital Buildings
Carrollton, TX (June 2020-July 2021)
- Rotation 3: Business Development Manager – Power Products
Carrollton, TX (July 2021- current)
As I approached each rotation, I looked at it as an opportunity to learn a new skill or to further develop a trait I already possessed. Each of these rotations provided me with a vastly different experience which allowed me to grow into the young professional I am today. Throughout, I was able to lead meaningful projects, many of which live on and continue to have a lasting impact on the business.
… What Next?
Entering my year 3 rotation, I knew it would be the perfect final rotation. It would allow me to get back in front of our customers, gain a better understanding of business development and learn how to own and manage a portion of our business. When accepting this rotation, I was told that given the relationship-based nature of this position, they hoped I would be willing to stay come the end of my time in this program. And as alluded to above, I am pleased to say I stayed in the role post-program.
Reflecting on the past 3 years, choosing to join the Cross-Functional Leadership Development Program was the best decision I could have made. Coming out of the program, I now have experience with sales, business communication, change management, strategy development and implementation, and much more! While my time in this program has come to an end, my career at Schneider Electric has only begun. The new skills and competencies I’ve acquired over the years will continue to drive my career, but the most notable takeaway has been the relationships I have developed. I have been blessed to have the most supportive leaders and teammates throughout all my rotations. The sky’s the limit at this company and I cannot wait to see how far I’ll go!
Transitioning from college to a full-time career can be a very daunting task. Even navigating your day-to-day in a role can be a challenge. Over the years, I have learned a lot about what keeps me grounded and I hope these help you as well.
- It’s okay not to know: Whether it’s determining your first job out of college or next career move, it’s okay not to know what you want to do next. That is the great thing about the rotational nature of this program. Even within your current role, you do not need to know everything! College teaches us HOW to learn so use those skills, stay curious, and utilize the support systems around you. If you do that, nothing will be able to stop you!
- Be Yourself: It’s easy to compare yourself to someone else and say, “Well if I was just like them, I’d would be successful”. Wrong… While it is important to focus on continuing to develop yourself, it’s the unique skillsets, hobbies, and personality traits that will be your greatest assets! Never shy away from who you are because at the end of the day, it will be those things that make you successful!
- Stay Patient: If things in your career are not progressing at the pace you expected, do not be discouraged. The promotions and money will come. Keep an eye on the future but focus on being present in the moment. Challenge yourself and work hard and I guarantee you it will not go unnoticed.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself: One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was “Do not forget to take care of yourself, because if you are not right, everything else will suffer”. Things in life can very quickly become difficult and overwhelming. So, if you need to take a day of paid time off (PTO) on a random Tuesday to get away and recharge, do it! Schneider Electric truly cares about its people, and your well-being will always be a top priority!
If you’re looking for a company to jumpstart your career, apply today! You can apply for the United States Cross Functional Leadership Development Program now, and search for other openings in the Schneider Electric jobs portal.
About the Author
Ethan Barlow is a Business Development Manager at Schneider Electric. He is an avid golfer, Boston sports fan and eye glass collector.
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