Work Environment: An Important Piece of the ISDR Puzzle

The ISDR program is great in that it provides us the opportunity to not only explore different areas of IT at UPMC, but it also exposes us to different work environments and work cultures.Whitney Soldo

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years: babysitting, tutoring, retail, random on-campus jobs at college, internships, and now 2 out of 4 rotations in this program. I’ve worked in an array of settings with a range of employers, and with a diverse pool of team members and managers. However, until this point, I haven’t really had the chance to reflect on my ideal work environment and culture. To figure this out, I think it’s important to consider what has or has not worked for me in the past and what environment will be conducive to developing my skill set, networking, and furthering my overall career development.

While I could have some pretty high-maintenance, temporal demands like needing an all-paid yoga studio in the building, and a window view so that my plants have a chance of surviving (although I wouldn’t complain if those were available), I’ll be reasonable –

My ideal work environment is being surrounded by people I get along with, having people to eat lunch with, and one where everyone around me is supportive, helpful, open-minded, respectful, and not afraid of change.

We spend roughly 34% of our waking hours at work. That’s a LOT of our time! It is important that we find a work environment that provides us with what we need and expect, and ultimately is a good fit for us. For those of us just entering the corporate world full time, we have great ideas, we have energy, we are willing to learn and work (and work hard), we want to contribute, and we want to find something we love doing that we can help with. We want to be full speed ahead, but that may not be the environment we are walking into, so there may be an adjustment period of adapting and finding common ground, learning and mistake-making. In our deep dive with Tami Minnier, she said that “to be successful you cannot only be competent, you have to be confident.”  I know there will be people and places that make me question my confidence, but I also know that I have worked in great places with great people that through challenging work have fostered healthy environments and as a bi-product promote confidence. 

When considering future rotations and positions following the ISDR program, I will definitely be asking questions (and I would encourage everyone reading this to do the same!) to make sure I’m not only focused on content of work, but also work environment, and how I will fit in and contribute, because I believe work environment plays a huge role in productivity and functionality.

(But flexible work hours, a yoga studio, and other amenities at all of my rotations may help my morale, too!)

By Whitney Soldo, Systems Analyst – ISDR

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A Shift in Thinking: How the ISDR Program Shaped My Career Goals

The two rotations that I have experienced so far at UPMC have changed my perception of career goals.  Going into college, I knew what I wanted to study.  I knew for years that computer science was the road ahead of me.  Upon graduation, I had the same belief that software engineering would be my career path.  I decided that doing a rotation program would be a unique opportunity that I could greatly benefit from, and one that I would not have a chance to experience later in my career.  However, what I was really looking forward to was being in a software engineering role. KellyPhotoWhat I have experienced so far in the program has challenged the former clarity I once had about my career.  Working for such a complex organization like UPMC’s Information Services Division exposes you to so many moving parts.  There are a several different groups that I have encountered throughout my rotations of which I can envision myself being a member.  This has really led me to considering other possibilities for my career in the future.  I love software engineering, and still plan on doing so at some point in the future, but who knows?  This uncertainty used to scare me, however, with the insight I have gained through this program, I now find it exciting. The opportunities at UPMC are abundant, and with my experience from the ISDR program, I am well equipped for whichever one comes my way.  At the very least, I now have a much deeper appreciation for the other areas of ISD, and a sincere interest in experiencing different roles.

By Ryan Kelly, Systems Analyst – ISDR

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Lessons Learned as an ISDR

1. It’s harder than you would expect to coordinate with others. Coordinating with others while in college is fairly straightforward: “Hey do you want to grab coffee and work on our project after class?” – “Sure, that would be great!” Most of the time, this method is effective. Transitioning into a professional environment, the situation becomes similar to: “Hey do you want to grab coffee and discuss our ideas for our upcoming meeting?” – “Sure, I’m busy this afternoon and  tomorrow morning, and you are booked tomorrow… it looks like we both have a free half hour on Thursday so we can meet then!” Everyone has a busy schedule and trying to find time can sometimes be very difficult. This is increasingly difficult when trying to plan meetings with larger groups.

2. Public speaking is not as scary as it seems. When I started the ISDR program, I hated the idea of speaking in front of people. It was not something I felt I was particularly good at, or had much experience with. I was afraid of people asking questions and not being able to answer them. Luckily, I found out that speaking about your own accomplishments is far easier than giving a presentation that you had to research information for. Because you did all of the work, and understand the information you are presenting, the speaking aspect is not nearly as scary. Realizing that ‘I did this’, made the experience less nerve-wracking and has been easier ever since.

3. Excel is your friend… and your enemy. If you think you will not use Excel in your career (like I did), you are mistaken. Whether you are working on a budget, or using it to keep information together, you will use it. Excel is a powerful tool. Having an understanding of Excel is one thing, but being an Excel wizard is an entirely different story. Pivot tables can be your best friend, putting together complex formulas from multiple spreadsheets can be your worst nightmare. I have a love/hate relationship with Excel, and it’s very likely to stay that way.

4. There is way more to corporate IT than what I originally expected.
There are many different groups throughout ISD that work together to run the business. Learning how these groups work together takes some time figure out. Who is in charge of what? Who needs to approve this before it can be moved forward? The amount of areas can be intimidating, but they become easier to understand as time goes by.There are many different groups throughout ISD that work together to run the
business. Learning how these groups work together takes some time figure out. Who is in charge of what? Who needs to approve this before it can be moved forward? The amount of areas can be intimidating, but they become easier to understand as time goes by.

Antonio Greco Image 25. Network, Network, Network. Networking is very important,
especially when moving from one rotation to the next. Your client in one rotation could be could be your team in the next. Networking is also beneficial when you are looking for more information. If you know someone in a particular area, you can feel comfortable reaching out to them for advice or to point you in the right direction. It’s also good to build relationships with everyone you meet, because you never know where you might end up when the two years are over.

By Antonio Greco, Systems Analyst – ISDR

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Life in the Cave

Gone are the days of interns fetching coffee, filing papers and stapling for hours.  As any Summer Associate knows, internships at companies like UPMC are coveted positions of which we prepare ourselves for up to a year in advance by seeking out the most desirable programs, stalking HR representatives and rewriting our resumes to the point of perfection. Most of my expectations were met as I look back on the program: involvement in big and important projects, corporate events, dress codes, networking events and more.

Anne MerrickHowever, one aspect I never saw coming was sitting in a square formation with 11 strangers staring at one another into a medium sized conference room with no windows.  Fondly labeled as “The Cave” or “the S.A.C.,” (Summer Associates Cave), we Marketing/Communications Summer Associates quickly got to know each other very, very well.  It would be misleading to say that this was not a challenging arrangement for everyone, but it was a situation that was clearly an invaluable preparation for any professional working environment.

For some reason, people in the office seem to have the impression that The Cave is a quiet place.  This is likely due to our innate ability to stop mid argument or laughing fit, whenever anyone other than a Summer Associate walks in.  Little do they know, they probably missed by seconds a heated argument about the Royal baby, a flying stress-ball or everyone reduced to tears of laughter from our witty dialogue.  I’m not exaggerating when I say, we all know everything about each other.  We should probably make a pact, in case anyone ever wants to run for office someday.

The Cave is our war room.  It’s a place of solidarity and teamwork, where we celebrate each other’s wins and challenge each other’s losses.  And it’s not like we all love each other, but the atmosphere became one where we couldn’t help but be there for each other.  Everything took place against a backdrop of ambition, perfectionism, and dedication.

The Cave experience was invaluable.  It was full of those intangible lessons that at the time are annoying and frustrating but in retrospect were the highlight of the summer.  There probably isn’t a single work experience we couldn’t handle.  In a lot of ways we were legitimately like puppies.  We honestly had to watch our group sugar consumption so we didn’t get too wound up, and we poked and prodded at one another to no end.  We learned to love it, we got sick of it and each other, but ultimately we were made better for it.  And while The Cave helped us in a larger, professional sense, it truly fostered lifelong friendships.  My fellow Cave-mates inspire, motivate, infuriate and comfort me and I will miss them all very much.  So here’s to the cave life!

By Anne Merrick, Summer Associate

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Career Goals and My Progress at UPMC

 “Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe, and it will come naturally.”
 -David Frost

Petro,%20ElanaGrowing up, I always heard those words around me say, similar to “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.”  I never understood the value in this statement until I began my professional career.  Coming into my internship with UPMC this summer, I had no idea how much I was going to learn or the advances in my career I was going to make by pursuing what I love to do.  I arrived with the expectation to learn a lot about finance and gain some new experiences, but I have since learned many things beyond what I expected.  Not only have I learned a lot about finance in my position, but I have surprisingly learned more about healthcare than I ever imagined.  I have also learned many things about working in a corporate environment as well as understanding the dynamics that come into play when working with different people.  I have made many new friends, enabling me to develop as an individual.  Through service events, I have come to understand the beliefs that are at the core of UPMC.  My career goal was to one day work in finance, and I never knew it could lead me to UPMC.  I never saw myself loving this kind of work, but my summer at UPMC has given me the ability to experience something new and succeed at it.  I have learned that sometimes your career goals change as your experiences enumerate.  Often times, an experience can enable you to better understand yourself and shape your goals.  My summer here at UPMC has given me that ability.  While the work was valuable, the ability to better know myself and understand my goals is an experience that will always be of value in my life.

By Elana Petro, Summer Associate

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Expectations vs. Reality of UPMC and the Summer Associate Program

I applied to UPMC’s Summer Associate Program for the experience of working with an exceptional healthcare supply chain.  I had never worked for a large company, nor had I worked in a large office building, so I was unsure of what to expect out of UPMC and the Summer Associate program.  I was excited and nervous for my first day.  For some reason, I pictured my days being very structured and formal, like school, since that’s all I’ve known for 15 years. I was worried my manager and mentor would be unapproachable and the office would be too formal for me to really feel comfortable for the next 11 weeks; but after just one week into the program, I realized how irrational my thoughts and fears were.

Scanga,%20CamilleEverything about working at UPMC was positive.  It had a lot to do with the people I was around every day, and I’m especially thankful that UPMC hired last year’s Supply Chain Summer Associate, Jill Banko, because without her there to show me the ropes, I wouldn’t have had such a great experience.  My manager, Mike Figliolia, and my mentor, Kathy DeLacio, were also a big part of why I enjoyed my time at UPMC. They were very approachable and were always willing to dish out some advice and just talk with me about life in supply chain and my future career.  I learned a lot from them throughout the summer, both in casual conversation and in a formal setting.  I was also lucky enough to have a cubicle so close to another Supply Chain Summer Associate, and two Finance Summer Associates, so I always looked forward to coming to work.

I ended up being very comfortable with my position at UPMC, and it was mostly because the Summer Associate program allowed us to have a unique amount of exposure to our departments’ executives.  We had lunches, presentations, and outings designed especially for us to get to know them, take valuable advice, and not see them as intimidating figures. In fact, the Chief Supply Chain Officer, Jim Szilagy, was so approachable and willing to help me get the most out of my time at UPMC that he set up a special tour for me at UPMC Shadyside so I could see how their materials management works.  It is things like that which separate this internship from any other.

In addition, I was given a lot of projects that allowed me to work with different areas within supply chain, and also with a few different departments throughout UPMC which allowed me to gain perspective on what goes into running a top company and supply chain.  Those projects also gave me an insight into the type of work ethic at UPMC.  The office on the 59th floor of the Steel Building is built upon teamwork, and the supply chain is only exceptional because of the amount of cooperation that goes into it between departments and areas.  Everyone is patient, willing to work hard, focused, and laid back, and they passed those traits on to me.  I am proud to have started my career in UPMC’s Corporate Services and recommend the Summer Associates Program to anyone looking for a unique and meaningful experience.

By Camille Scanga, Summer Associate

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The Opposite of Busy Work

Two large projects comprised the majority of my internship – I loaded hospital statistics into templates, in two different forms, to be uploaded into the general ledger. This certainlyChisholm,%20Reid was important work and not an exercise to keep me busy. Other people relied on my information with the assumption my work was without error.

I also worked on many smaller tasks, creating various spreadsheets and charts. My manager would tell me what he wanted in the spreadsheet and why. After I completed the task, I would email it to my manager and we would go over it, checking for mistakes, explaining what everything meant, and the purpose for which it would be used. This brief meeting signaled the end of the project, and that was that.

For the most part, I was not sure what he did with my work, assuming he sent it to whoever needed it. But one day, he added one sentence at the end of our meeting that completely altered my view of my work:
“Send it to Ed.”

Ed Karlovich is the CFO of the Hospital and Community Services Division – the division I worked in – and my boss’s boss. I tried to hide my surprise, but a faint “really?” managed to slip out. The spreadsheet I put together was for Ed Karlovich, CFO of one of the largest divisions of UPMC, someone whom all of the hospital CFO’s report to. And the work I, a simple Finance Summer Associate, put together was directly for him. My surprise shifted to excitement, then to nervousness. I quadruple checked to make sure my work was correct and sent it off, to Ed.

That is the benefit of the UPMC Summer Associates Program, something that differentiates it from all other internships in similar fields. The work you do actually matters. It does not get shuffled into a manila folder and placed in the bottom of a desk drawer, nor saved on some obscure server never to be seen again. Your manager uses it, or sends it off to someone who needs it. And that someone could be anyone; even a CFO.

By Reid Chisholm, Summer Associate

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