1. How did the foundation of NRC’s Talent Incubator program help you begin your career?
At the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, my focus was on computer programming. When I graduated, it was really difficult for me to find an entry-level development job right out of school. Most companies were looking for two to five years’ experience, so I took the first entry-level job I could find. While it was a great starting point, the company offered no opportunity for growth; I didn’t even really have the ability to expand my skill set, take training, or even have the opportunity to develop a career path. After about two years I started exploring my options to see what else was out there. The opportunity to be a part of the Talent Incubator Program kind of fell into my lap; it was essentially the opportunity for me to start my dream career as a software developer. NRC was willing to sponsor me; they put the time and the effort into training. The NRC Talent Incubator program was literally exactly what I was looking for to advance my career.
2. How did the structure help you feel comfortable with the client that was ultimately your employer?
At that point in time, I was very early in my career; I was still really learning how to navigate the corporate world. But now I had a mentor at NRC, which was helpful to both me and my client. We would bounce ideas off each other and work through issues, so I didn’t have to bother the client with my questions. It was incredibly helpful for me. We also had these weekly training sessions which helped me become a more well-rounded member of the team. The NRC Talent Incubator program offered Business and Consulting 101 classes which helped me understand my purpose. I learned things—important things—they don’t teach you in school. It was the perfect, well-rounded training program to jumpstart my career.
3. What did you learn during the program?
The program helped me understand the functional side of PeopleSoft, which is a game-changer when it comes to being a well-rounded employee. A lot of the developers that I’ve worked with since the NRC Talent Incubator program are solely heads-down developers—if you don’t write requirements perfectly, they’re going to develop exactly what you asked for. Learning a bit about the functional side of accounts payable and purchasing and travel expense in all the different modules within PeopleSoft helped me be a much better developer; I actually understood what I was developing in the various modules. When I started to understand where the project managers were coming from, it helped me be a better team member. We even had people from within the company join the training sessions.
4. What would you say to others who might be looking at the program?
From a candidate’s perspective, this is truly an amazing opportunity. You get the opportunity to work side-by-side with experts, expand your skill set, and learn things that you couldn’t learn in college. Everything I’ve learned that made me the person I am today I learned from the NRC Talent Incubator program. I’ve met all sorts of people through NRC who have helped enhance and grow my professional life.
From a client perspective, the world of IT is essentially a never-ending To-Do List, and there’s a revolving door of conflicting priorities. Every single time that my team gets to the point of needing additional resources, the number one concern is always, “How are we going to get these people up-to-speed on top of everything else we have going on?” The NRC Talent Incubator program takes the pressure off of the client and the internal employees; it builds a program to create exactly the resource that that the company needs.
5. Any additional reflections on the program?
It’s been over a decade since I came to the program trying to become a PeopleSoft developer—and I’m actually still with the client that offered me a job right out of the program! The company has been acquired twice since then, but I have worked my way up, first becoming the Manager of the Development Team and, now, the Director of our entire Enterprise Applications Team. I have the Talent Incubator Program and its mentorship to thank for where I am today. It was the jumping-off point; it opened me up to so many opportunities and business relationships that will stay with me for the rest of my career.