Most graduating college students don’t understand the workforce—nor do they know exactly what they want to do with their degrees. In fact, while 65 percent of college students say understanding how industries and companies work in the real world is important to them, only about 30 percent say they have the tools or information to put two and two together. Imagine how confusing choosing a career must be if you don’t even understand what kinds of careers—or companies—are out there. (Hint: Very.)
That’s why fellowships, apprenticeships, and internships are so valuable. These opportunities give students real world experience so they can figure out what they want before their work is tied to a more permanent paycheck.
Hitachi Energy takes that concept a step further. Wanting to provide recent graduates with extensive career exploration, the sustainable energy org offers the Power+ Graduate program, an 18-month rotation program that provides a unique opportunity for STEM majors to jump start their careers by exploring different work environments and technical career areas.
Participants explore various aspects of each business unit through three six-month rotations, finally selecting a path when the program is complete. Along the way, they’re met with mentors, colleagues, and peers dedicated to shepherding their growth, not to mention encouraging them to expand their horizons and their time zones. Want to work in Switzerland, China, Poland, Brazil, or another fun country? Well, through Power+, you could. In fact, one Power+ Graduate from the company’s North America program is completing her third rotation in Ludvika, Sweden, as an environmental impact manager in High Voltage right now.
We reached out to members of Hitachi Energy’s current Power+ class to understand the impact this program has made on their careers. Below, meet two women who've used Power+ to launch their post-grad lives and find their calling. Remember, this could be you.
How did you find out about the Power+ Graduate program?
Sydney Rogers: I learned about the Power+ Graduate program while I was completing my summer internship as a process engineer at Hitachi Energy’s transformer factory. At the time, I had met colleagues at the factory who were completing their first rotation in the program. I instantly became curious about the program, especially since I was due to graduate the following year and had no idea what I wanted my professional career to look like. Eventually, I decided the program would be a great fit for me because I would be able to travel and explore my various professional interests while simultaneously building an expansive network.
Kathleen Woodmancy: I was apprehensive about my career path and feeling overwhelmed. I found the program through my brother, one of my biggest champions. With my background in industrial and systems engineering and business, I couldn’t visualize a clear direction to take within a large organization such as Hitachi Energy, so I sought a role within the Power+ Graduate program.
Participants in the Power+ Graduate program rotate through three different assignments in the company before deciding which business area, geographical location, and team they want to settle with as a full-time employee. Describe that experience transitioning between roles and teams.
Sydney: Overall, each of the six-month-long rotations were stimulating and had their own relative challenges to overcome. Each rotation provided me with clarity and insight regarding the types of projects I enjoy working on. For instance, during my first rotation, I worked in the Grid Automation Business Unit under Quality and Continuous Improvement. I was able to obtain my Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification by leading a Yellow Belt project that reduced the lead time and improved the efficiency of the Return Material Authorization process. Then in my second rotation, I was a building information modeling coordinator and, in my third, a research and development design engineer.
Kathleen: These rotations have grown my confidence exponentially. I feel as if I have taken the time to not just achieve but also to learn. I have traveled, networked with countless individuals, and visited many parts of the company around the world. My third rotation was a major turning point for my career, as I took a leap of faith and joined the semiconductor factory in Lenzburg, Switzerland. In this role, I feel as if I have grown professionally and, more importantly, personally, working alongside various cultures while understanding and appreciating our differences.
Beyond job training, what kinds of support did you receive during the Power+ Graduate program?
Sydney: I was able to receive support from the program leaders and fellow Power+ Graduates whenever I had questions about anything. Additionally, all my rotation managers have been supportive of my career aspirations and worked with me to establish S.M.A.R.T goals to take actionable steps toward my objectives. I still reach out to previous managers and colleagues for advice at times to help me navigate through life’s obstacles or just to catch up casually.
Kathleen: In addition to the mentorship I have received from coworkers, managers, and leaders along the way, one of the major highlights of this program is the support I’ve received from current and past Power+ members. If asked to provide a one-word description depicting the Power+ program, without hesitation I would respond with “community.” With such a transitory 18-month period, we have created a support system, seeking advice from one another through weekly Power+ chats, kickball leagues, dinners, and more. I can confidently say many of these individuals have become friends. My favorite aspect of the program is that once you become a part of this group, you stay a member of this group. Current or former doesn’t matter; you can always find a connection with someone from the program, whether it is engaging factory tours, grabbing dinners, or just chatting over Microsoft Teams.
How do you think the Power+ Graduate program has affected your career path?
Sydney: I believe the program has expedited my career path within Hitachi Energy. I am grateful to have been exposed to a diverse range of perspectives from brilliant individuals who are at various levels within the company. Participating in this program demonstrated how flexible my career path truly is if I nurture my insatiable curiosity with intentional actions and clear thinking based on my experiences.
Kathleen: Before this program, I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life or at least for the next few years. It has completely changed my career path. We are extremely fortunate as Power+ trainees to be presented with these opportunities, as most of us just graduated from college and are entering our first positions. Although I am not sure exactly what my next steps will be, I know I would like to stay in grid integration.
What would you say to someone else considering the Power+ Graduate program?
Sydney: Having an open mindset to explore environments and willingness to connect with others who might have some useful insight is invaluable at this point in your career. This is the time to allow yourself some grace to make mistakes and figure things out while you begin your personal and professional journey to greatness. As cliché as it sounds, ‘Slow progress is better than no progress.’
Kathleen: Simply put, go for it! My biggest piece of advice for future Power+ trainees is to take chances. Don’t be afraid to seek something outside your comfort zone, whether it is moving to a new place or taking on a role that you are intimidated by. Connect with as many people as possible and ask as many questions as possible. These 18 months are truly an opportunity that not many people get to experience—learning about the company but most importantly learning about yourself and what it is you are truly passionate about.
Sustainability champion Hitachi Energy earns top scores for Ability to Telecommute, Learning Opportunities, and The People You Work With, all perfect or near perfect ratings. One very satisfied rater says: “Hitachi Energy continues to put DE&I at the front of everything we do. I am proud to work for a company that supports the unique backgrounds of their employees and allows you to bring your full self to work.” Explore employee ratings, company benefits, and open opportunities at Hitachi Energy now!