From Entry Level Engineer to Project Manager in Just Two Years
Meet Jake Wilson, a senior staff product engineer with Motorola and recent MEM graduate. Most people enter the MEM program with the intention of improving their career after graduation but Jake has shown that achievement is possible even while still completing an MEM degree. Before graduating in June 2012, Jake obtained a promotion and garnered a great deal of positive attention from important managers in his company, including his vice president. Check out Jake’s story of success below.
When I first entered the MEM program I was an entry level mechanical design engineer. I spent a lot of time designing individual parts for products and had no managerial or business experience. I wanted to have the ability to move up in the company but saw no way of gaining the experience to allow me to do so. I considered an MBA but as an engineer my company wouldn’t approve reimbursement. My manager at the time was an MEM alum and recommended the program to me.
Immediately after starting classes in management, product development, leadership, negotiations, and networking I started to adopt new practices in the work place. I took on extra tasks and negotiated better and more challenging projects. Most importantly, I improved my professional network by creating a big impact during every small interaction with other employees. I might only work with a person for a few days, but ensured that I made a lasting impression and continued to keep in touch even after the project ended by saying hi when we passed in the hallway and using electronic tools I learned about in my networking course, such as LinkedIn, to keep in touch on a more regular basis.
While I was making positive steps forward and creating a great impression at work, I was also learning to balance my full-time job with school work and personal challenges at home. During the four years in which I completed my degree, I bought a house, got married, and had a son while the housing market crashed and the company experienced massive layoffs for a few years. MEM professors were understanding and did what they could to make things easier on us while not compromising the material. The results I experienced at work certainly provided inspiration to keep going.
Within two years of starting the program I was offered another position within the company by an acquaintance in my network, which eventually yielded a promotion into a product management role. During the remaining half of my MEM experience I was awarded incentives and told personally by my vice president that they want to keep talented people like me. I believe the MEM education I received, the extremely successful instructors I studied under, and the experiences I shared with the other students is what helped me obtain my current level of professional success.