It was fall 2018, and I was a senior in college preparing to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering (BSE), double majoring in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from Miami University in Oxford, OH.
…. but I didn’t want to be an engineer.
After experiencing several engineering internships in operations and manufacturing, I realized I was not interested in engineering in the traditional sense. What I really enjoyed was taking a complicated problem and using the framework of my knowledge to try to solve it.
… but now what?
The Job Hunt
Through all my classes and experiences, I realized that I wanted to look beyond the traditional mechanical engineering roles to see what other types of jobs I could apply those skills to. I decided to pursue more of a technical sales or sales engineering role. That way, I could focus on solving ambiguous problems without the detailed engineering work. My ideal job would be more customer facing, where I could understand the big picture instead of one specific equipment or design.
During my senior year of college, I stumbled upon a job posting for Schneider Electric’s Sales Development Program. I had been looking for job opportunities in Nashville, Tennessee, and this position was based in the Franklin, TN office. While the location was what initially caught my eye, as I learned more about the program it seemed like a place where I could pursue my interests and grow both personally and professionally.
Beginning My Career at Schneider Electric
In 2018 I was hired into Schneider Electric’s Sales Development Program (SDP) and moved to Nashville. The SDP is an early career development program focused on Energy Management and Industrial Automation offerings and the soft skills required to jumpstart my career.
I loved the energy of Nashville. There was so much going on in the city, and the population was full of other people just beginning their careers and moving to the area. It seemed like the place that everyone wanted to be. When I first set foot in the Franklin office the atmosphere was great. It seemed like a fantastic place to start my journey, and Schneider Electric felt like a place where I could continue to grow and develop.
The program provided me with the ability to enter the workforce in a low stress fashion and develop lasting connections with many of my peers from the cohort as well as my first manager all of which I feel were vital to my career success here at Schneider Electric. I spent 8 months total in Nashville – 3 months in training and 5 months as a temporary backfill as a Project Specialist for an employee on maternity leave. After 8 months, I moved to Cleveland, Ohio to expand my responsibilities and stepped into a Project Manager role. There, I supported a local Field Office sales team in the execution of medium and large projects.
In 2020, I was promoted into my next role as a Territory Sales Engineer covering the Greater Cleveland market where I was responsible for supporting our channel partners and contractors in greenfield and brownfield construction projects. This journey then led me to my current role in 2022 where I became a Software Sales Executive within our Digital Power Organization.
My Current Job
As a Software Sales Executive, I act as the link between ETAP (a recent acquisition) and our core business units at Schneider Electric with the goal of driving synergy growth. This latest step in my career was something outside of my comfort zone. Coming from a mechanical engineering background and experience selling and executing physical projects, software was going to require a completely different skillset. However, this is one of the important things about Schneider Electric – you should never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone!
Relocation to Boston
When I was about 18 months into my role, my fiancé Nicole received an opportunity to advance her career in Boston, Massachusetts. We were living in Cleveland, Ohio at the time and saw this as an opportunity for us to step outside of our comfort zone and take on a new challenge. This also would provide me with the ability to move closer to one of our Schneider Electric hubs in Boston.
I approached my manager and let him know about our situation and the idea of relocation. My manager was extremely receptive and saw this as a positive thing. Because of the nature of our team, realistically doing this job from anywhere near a major city would be fine. We are a remote first team – my manager is in Atlanta, and I have teammates around the US in New York, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California.
I was so fortunate that this was not a difficult discussion – everyone was so supportive. In September 2023 we moved to Cambridge, MA with our dog Sasha. It was intimidating at first but after getting into the city, we loved the activity and energy in the area. It was amazing to see that the Boston office was bustling with employees and activities, matching the energy of the city. I am confident that moving closer to a hub location will also aid in my career progression because of the exposure, opportunity and resources that comes along with it.
A Sense of Pride
What I am most proud of in my current role is the ability to drive change through a large and complex organization. My team and I are responsible for working with our leaders, sales, and support teams to ensure that the organization is trained and comfortable with bringing these latest offers to our customers and partners. We also work directly with the same customers and partners to provide modern, digital solutions for their electrical needs. Schneider Electric is a big ship that takes time and effort to turn, and it is amazing to see what a small team of motivated individuals can accomplish!
It also provides a sense of pride to work at a company that is front and center in the transition to electrification, conversion to renewable sources of energy, improved efficiency, and more resilient systems. Schneider Electric and the people here can make an impact on the world, which is why we consistently rank as one of the most sustainable companies by Corporate Knights and have recently been ranked as one of the most innovative companies in the world by Boston Consulting Group. It is no surprise that it is a certified Great Place to Work!
Limitless Career Opportunities
What I really appreciate about working at Schneider is the people that I get to work with and the limitless career opportunities that are available. Across every position that I have held within the company, my managers and teammates have been incredibly welcoming and supportive. They will take the time to teach you new concepts and help in demanding situations. Outside of your immediate team, leaders make themselves available for coffee chats and mentoring which is a fantastic way to learn about the organization and create new connections.
There are countless paths that you can take when it comes to your career. Between the different business units, functions, and geographies that Schneider operates in, you can take your career wherever you want it to go. By moving into a new business unit, you can start to build new skills and expand your comfort zone while staying under the Schneider Electric umbrella like my most recent role change.
Schneider Electric also does an excellent job of supporting employees’ growth both through internal development programs and through tuition support for relevant undergraduate and graduate programs. The internal development programs are typically in partnership with a university or other organizations and are focused on developing applicable skills in the areas of leadership, strategy, and communication. They can be region specific or global in nature and provide you the ability to take concepts straight from the classroom and apply them in your day-to-day work. Through these fantastic opportunities, I have been fortunate enough to complete both our North America and Global early career programs while pursuing and recently graduating with my Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Carnegie Mellon University!
Advice to Readers
When reflecting on my career over the past few years, one of the biggest pieces of advice I have is to be curious. Because I work in a customer facing role, there are times when I am confronted with a problem that I do not know the answer to. It’s important to have an intrinsic curiosity of wanting to solve a problem and understand your customer’s’ issues. If you don’t know an answer, be comfortable and confident in your ability to be open and honest with your customers and let them know you’ll investigate and get back to them.
I am fortunate that I get to be curious every day, and that every day is an opportunity to learn and make a difference for my customers while working with the best people in the industry.
Come work with us!
If you’re a recent or upcoming graduate in the United States interested in one of our development programs for 2024, learn more and apply today. Jobs will be posted until programs are filled.
- Sales Development Program (Square D) – Southern Region
- Sales Development Program (Square D)
- Sales Development Program (APC)
- Sales Development Program (Industrial Automation)
- Sales Development Program (Inside Services Sales)
- Digital Engineering Development Program
- Finance Advanced Development Program
- ASCO Sales Engineer Development Program
About the author
Software Sales Executive
Donald embarked on his Schneider Electric career journey in 2018 starting in the Square D Sales Development Program. He has enjoyed a wide variety of opportunities along the way and is currently a Software Sales Executive within the Digital Power organization. He lives in the United States with his fiancé Nicole and their dog Sasha.