RealJobs: Alex Walker

“Wow, Sociology, so how did you end up here?” 

Some rumors have it that once you’re in college no one asks you what you scored on the SAT, and that your major may or may not become insignificant once you tack that diploma up on the wall; that details of the internship you had are superfluous, but the fact that you had an internship is key.  At times, life in college, or maybe life in general, seems like a series of “check the boxes.”   Well regardless of your outlook on checking the boxes or leaving them to fate, I can promise you your unique string of boxes, no matter what they are, will matter far beyond graduation day.   How you choose to check the boxes will absolutely determine your future—but that’s really nothing to fear.

Nearly three years out of school and far from the world of Academia I still am asked probably twice a month what I studied, more commonly from the older generation than from my fellow gen-Y’ers.  I have come to love the look of shock and bewilderment when I tell co-workers at BMW of North America, LLC, that I, Alex Walker, majored in Sociology.  If they had some retort about the application of Sociology (“What is that exactly?”) in the Business world, they surely have the wind taken out of them when I tell them in the next breath I doubled minored in Environmental Studies and Spanish.  With that rare combination, I give them no bones to grab onto, only a resume they have never heard of; when people hear of a series of boxes they are unfamiliar with they are not sure how to react, nor do they immediately understand why I was a great candidate for this position.  What’s exciting to watch unfold at BMW is the immediate need to diversify the work force, not so much by gender or ethnicity as by background, character, and global competency.  And now that I’ve used my “Qualitative, Sociological, Communicative” way of introducing myself and my job, I’ll use what I’ve learned in the past two years and state the facts:

Title: Management Associate
Position Type: International Rotational Management Program
Duration: 24 months
Location: New Jersey, USA: 15 months; Munich, Germany: 6 months. Mexico City, Mexico: 3 months.

Cars have been my lifelong hobby but in terms of thinking about a career in cars, I was a bit later to the game.  Interestingly, long before I dreamed of working on the corporate side of a major automotive company, or even thought of a career in cars, or even understood the expression, “checking the boxes,” I was already checking the boxes for a career in the industry I love.  Sometimes forging a path to your future is easier than you think, and while there are many means to the same end, your unique path will always be a part of you; and in my experience, that’s worked out okay.

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