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How INFORMS Helped Me Get a Great OR Job

By Walter DeGrange posted 08-18-2014 20:32


After working for the US Navy for 21 years, the time had come to retire from the military to civilian life.  As one of life’s major crossroads, the prospect of career transition was daunting. Fortunately, my participation in INFORMS over the past seven years provided an excellent source of networking and career opportunities to kick-start my job search.

First, participation in INFORMS offered many networking opportunities. Through INFORMS, I met an incredibly diverse group of analytical professionals. Many served as invaluable mentors to me throughout my career transition. Some of them had gone through their own transition from the military and passed on their experiences. Others worked at companies that were actively looking for someone with my skillset and experience. I had presented to many of these folks at the INFORMS Annual conferences which allowed them to become familiar with my analytical portfolio. This familiarity opened the door for interviews discussing what projects at their companies were a good fit for me -- something I found more productive than the traditional "is the interviewee qualified for the position" conversation. Personally, I found having the company communicate how they saw you fitting into their analytical organization was key to deciding whether the position was a good fit.

Second, I used the 2014 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference in Boston to add potential employment opportunities to my job search. Visiting the career fair was helpful in determining what skills and qualifications companies were looking for and also gave me practice interviewing. Additionally, I used this conference to continue building my network and even found an opportunity while attending the awards banquet.

So what were the data and final result from my job search? I interviewed with twelve companies; INFORMS played a key role in my connection with eleven of those. The companies ranged from software to consulting, single to multi-industry, government and commercial clients, and included both large and small companies. I felt that four of the opportunities would have provided an excellent fit. In the end, I selected a position that was the best possible match and was confident in my selection. I never used a job search website and, more importantly, the search expanded my OR network even further. Best of all, the experience allowed me to hear more great stories of how companies are using OR to change the world.