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Part 1: About TheYoungRetireeBy33
I had made my final decision to accept the job with Walmart’s eCommerce division. It was time to move up to Bethlehem, PA and begin the real world. I was full of nerves and excitement as my starting date began to creep closer.
Instead of graduating and going straight to work, I decided to take a two week trip to Europe with a few friends. And may I tell you, that was the right decision. Here is a picture of me getting some hang time in front of the Colosseum in Rome!
After a fun two weeks in Europe, it was time to come home and head to Bethlehem. Luckily I was a little familiar with the area from traveling to play Lehigh’s Men’s Tennis team when I at Buffalo. I arrived in Bethlehem and prepared myself for the beginning of a long two years.
What My First Job Entailed
A big reason I took the first job I did was due to the responsibilities of the project I would be taking on. As a field engineer in Bethlehem, I lead construction of a $350 million fulfillment center. This entailed managing construction and mechanical installation crews from over 10 different companies.
What did I know about construction going into this? Nada. I definitely learned a ton over the course of the first year leading the construction. I am a firm believer that you create your own fate. I could have thrown my hands in the air and given into the fact I had no idea what I was doing. Instead, I decided to take advantage of this situation and continue learning. It is amazing what you can learn if you have the willingness and drive to learn. My responsibility continued expanding as I continued driving results for the business.
The physical construction was now completed and it was time to transition my focus. I then turned to designing the workstations our associates would interact with. This was a completely different task that I again had no previous experience with. My main goals were to design cost effective, ergonomic, and efficient workstations. This took 5 months, and during the process I negotiated a $200k discount on the workstations. This was also another thing I had never done. Who thought a young 22 year old could negotiate with a large scale provider of workstations, but I did.
Now the workstations were complete. It was time to again transition to a new focus. This time it became a focus to assist in the development of the Warehouse Management System (WMS). A WMS is a system that manages your inventory within the warehouse and allows you to receive, pick, pack and ship orders. This was an impactful experience. I was able to begin the design of how the Warehouse Management System would work for the entire network.
I began to learn the ins and outs of how a system should work. I would direct the team designing the WMS to develop critical functionality. Helping lead this development allowed me to become a Subject Matter Expert (SME). A SME is well that, an expert at something. This gave me the upper hand and was one of the most critical things that set me up for future success.
How To Create Value In Your Role
I became the go to guy for all the operations teams to come ask questions and solve problems. Teams knew they could come to me, ask a question, and I would listen and then develop a solution. Have you ever heard the quote from Elon Musk: You get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of problems you solve. I was able to not only identify problems, but also come up with solutions. This is critical to adding value in your company.
Many individuals can identify problems, but few individuals can solve them. You add the most value when you do both. Want to speed up your career? Do both.
- Identify problems and develop solutions for the problems. Identifying a problem is not going to help you progress in your career at a rapid pace. Go one step further to develop a solution to help solve the problem.
- Take time off after college before going to work, especially if you plan on being in the rat race for a while. I took two weeks off to explore Europe and it was an incredible experience I wouldn’t change for the world. I recommend doing something similar.
- Have the drive to be thrown at things you know nothing about and come out with knowledge on the other end. There were many times in my first role where I changed my focus entirely to something I knew nothing about.