Crystal Ball vs. Pleasant Surprises
Author: Vanessa Fugate
Those that know me won’t be surprised to hear that I was one of those weird kids that went into college with that grand master plan, but when I graduated in 2007 I was reminded that life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect. I came out of college faced with a dilemma that many of my classmates seemed to share. I had my Bachelor’s degree in a specialized field, where prospective employers wanted more. More experience and more education. At a time where much of the population, including more experienced people, were also looking for jobs. This meant that those of us without experience were out of luck. After months with no luck and an accumulation of debt from pursuing said degree, I went from looking for a job in my field to anything that would pay the bills.
After a couple more months of temporary positions, with numerous companies, I ended up at the front desk of R&W. I did not know what to expect. The closest I had been to an engineering environment before was through a work study job in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science office at Oregon State, where I felt completely out of my element. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by a wonderful group of people. This would be my last temporary position. After 3 short months R&W was kind enough to offer me a permanent home.
I quickly learned that R&W is a company that expects a lot from their employees, but makes sure to give just as much in return. Even working at the front desk, I was encouraged to ask questions and learn new things. After about four years at R&W a fellow co-worker decided to change career paths opening a position in the office. Instead of looking to someone outside the office, quite possibly with more experience, my supervisor approached me instead. Giving me the opportunity to challenge myself even further to do something completely new. They offered to train me as a Utility Coordinator and in AutoCAD as well, to assist with drafting workload when needed.
As much as I appreciated their faith in my ability to tackle a task that was extremely foreign to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be more fiscally beneficial for them to bring someone in with experience instead of trying to bring me up to speed. I was surprised to find that R&W is not alone in their thoughts about hiring from within. Other companies seem to be making this a common practice as well. A study done by assistant professor Matthew Bidwell at Wharton showed that external hires made 18% more and were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than those who were promoted from within. Bidwell also mentions that promoting from within not only creates a more loyal employee, but it can also prove to be more efficient since existing employees already “know the ropes” (Adams, 2012). I believe that this was true in my case as well.
At the front desk, I was exposed to all the services that R&W provides: Electrical, Mechanical, Automation, Commercial, Industrial and everything in between. I firmly believe this familiarity with R&W’s services and culture, along with the training of several (extremely patient) individuals, helped ease my transition into my new tasks. Even though I wouldn’t always have the answers for a client about a project, I knew exactly who to ask to get them. This took a great deal of stress off my shoulders and allowed me to learn as I continued to move forward. I continue to learn new things about my position and R&W as a company. I’m happy to say I just celebrated my ninth anniversary with R&W and look forward to what the future holds for me here.