By: Rachel Root
At the start of my senior year at Kansas State University, I remember preparing for what would likely be my last career fair on campus. I would be graduating with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in less than ten months, and it was crucial that I make a list of companies I was interested in speaking with prior to the 2-day event. That summer, I had completed an internship that focused on technical design. Although I enjoyed the experience, I found the 9 to 5 schedule of desk work unsatisfying, and it left me discouraged. I knew I wanted to lead teams, and to have the opportunity to work in a hands–on environment; I wanted more than a desk job. One of my classmates recommended I investigate career options in manufacturing and operations. She described how her summer internship sold her on the daily fast-paced and challenging atmosphere. I knew a technically challenging role, with the chance to lead teams, excited me. So, I mapped in as many manufacturing companies as I could into my career fair plan. This was going to be my path.
At the career fair I visited the PepsiCo booth and after a great conversation with PepsiCo representatives, I was confident that Pepsi had everything I was looking for in terms of the hands-on and team-centered career. I sought out to learn more about the leadership opportunities, how I could apply my engineering degree, and opportunities for professional growth. Between my conversations with the employees at the career fair and my interviews with Pepsi leadership, I was thrilled to accept a full time offer at the Pepsi Beverages plant in Burnsville, MN.
Fast-forward, my first week at PepsiCo was exactly as I had hoped for and I jumped right in with a sense of excitement. I was introduced to the manufacturing floor and began learning from the experts who have been making beverages for decades. I learned quickly that my engineering degree would be my foundation of understanding processes, procedures, and supply chain. As I navigated my first role, I learned how important it is to work alongside your team, to listen with focus and intent, and to commit to a group effort. I also joined PepsiCo’s Women in Operations (WIO). WIO’s mission is to “encourage and educate women to empower themselves to take ownership of the manufacturing professional journey and take PepsiCo to the next level.” After joining, I was given a mentor and introduced to women with years of manufacturing experience and advice. By the end of my first year with PepsiCo, I had a network of support and was accepting a promotion into my next role within the company.
Looking back on my four years with PepsiCo, and as I begin my fourth role and third location with the company, I have been introduced to many facets of PepsiCo’s operations and supply chain and, most importantly for me, been given the early opportunity to lead. Every day has brought on the potential for new challenges, and I have enjoyed making quick yet informed decisions in the fast-paced environment of bottling and canning. During my career with PepsiCo, I have embraced the guidance my parents instilled in me as a child, that “I can do anything I set my mind to”, and I am grateful to work for a company that has believed in me every step of the way. I continue to appreciate the wonderful and inspirational women and leaders I have learned from and collaborated with and look forward to continuing my career in manufacturing at a company I am proud to work for – PepsiCo.
If you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities in Manufacturing or Research & Development at PepsiCo, register here for our Information Session on September 14th. Information about PepsiCo’s virtual career fair on September 21st, along with intern job postings can be found at this link.