An article by Kya Laulainen, Class of 2012
In the few months I have been working after graduating from McCombs this past May, I have noticed three recurring themes:
1. Play nice with everyone else in the sandbox – for real this time.
Your career is not a class where you are thrown into a team, muddle your way through a project and then can wave ‘sayonara’ to your team after grades are posted if you didn’t get along. This time it’s for real. You may end up working with your teammates for the next year or ten; they may be your manager one day, or you may be their manager. Help yourself in the long-run and be a team-player who people not only enjoy, but can rely on to get the job done in a pinch. Being a team-player, sharing your toys and teaching the other kids in the sandbox new tricks, is a great way to make friends, or at least establish a good working relationship with others on your team. It makes it easier to learn more and ask questions when everyone is playing well together and ultimately makes for better results as a team.
2. Be as succinct as possible, and as detailed as necessary.
Bullet points, bolding, highlighting and various other sneaky tactics are your friend. Remember how you always had a captive audience in your professors and TAs to get feedback and responses to every little woe in your MIS heart? That doesn’t exist in the real world. If you need something, you need to be proactive and get it. If you send out an email and need an answer by a certain time, you darn well better bold it, make it red and be clear. Oh, and that device that sits on your desk and rings every now and again? Get cozy with it. Nothing beats getting on the phone with someone you are working on a project for/with to clarify parameters and requirements. Some things just can’t be communicated in email. Seriously.
3. Client management is key.
Every situation I have been in relates back to this. Whether I am working with my manager on starting a new project, talking with a field rep or working with my team to improve processes, there is always a client. From managing expectations when you are new to a job and are running up the learning curve as fast as you can, to being thorough in establishing project requirements, there is the infamous triple constraint, and every now and then I want to do the Scope Creep dance. My MIS 374 skills (learned through much trial and error), have served me well in being able to quickly and thoroughly establish and, if necessary, adjust requirements and prioritize projects to ensure on-time delivery that meets or exceeds expectations
I have realized the greatest gift McCombs has given us is developing in each of us the capabilities to think for ourselves creatively and analytically, to question and be curious, and to never stop demanding not only the best of ourselves, but also the best of those around us.
Kya now works as a Business Management Associate at General Mills.