The path to success is not always easy. Campus Greensboro Fellow Alumni use their internship experiences in a variety of ways to navigate the job market after graduation. However, the path to a full-time position is not always clear and can be difficult to navigate. Abhaysinh (Abhay) Gaikwad is a 2018 Fellow Alumni who embodies the spirit of persistence, hope, and career diligence after graduation. After his ITG Brands internship, Abhay did not find a job right away in the midst of a competitive job market, but after a substantial amount of effort and perseverance, the right opportunity came his way.
Learn more about Abhay’s story and how the opportunities provided through the Campus Greensboro Fellows Program, and his internship at ITG Brands, prepared him for his new position at Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing. Not to mention, he secured a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering in May 2020 from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University!
Read more about his incredible journey here:
Could you describe your Campus Greensboro Fellows experience? What did it mean to you? What did you learn from being a Fellow?
The Campus Greensboro Fellows Program gave me much-needed exposure to an industrial environment. I learned a lot in terms of how to conduct yourself in industry and social events. The leadership essentials that I learned from the Center for Creative Leadership workshop during the program has helped me immensely in terms of team building and how to work with and lead cross-functional teams. I have been able to apply lessons from the program to my current professional work. The Campus Greensboro Fellows Program gives students like me an opportunity to apply the theory that we learn in school to find solutions and ideas to the existing problems in our respective industries.
How did your internship experience with ITG Brands help you with your current career goals? What experiences did you have with the company that support your current role with Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing?
Working at ITG Brands LLC as a Continuous Improvement Intern and then Co-Op, I got an opportunity to experience a challenging manufacturing environment. I had an opportunity to explore various aspects of manufacturing industry. I worked on multiple projects which not only gave me deep insights into working of operations facility but also helped me apply learnings of lean -six sigma methodology that is important to my type of work. I am very grateful to Monte Lawrence (Manager of Continuous Improvement) and Ronnie Bevins (Continuous Improvement Specialist) for building a brilliant team environment at ITG Brands. While working and discussing with both Monte and Ronnie about various projects, I was able to realize the nuances of continuous improvement within the organization. I would also like to thank Antonio Gutierrez, Executive Vice President of Operations and rest of the ITG Brands team for their continuous help and support. This experience of my continuous improvement internship at ITG Brands has helped me to quickly understand how to implement innovative concepts, like the lean manufacturing philosophy, in my current role at Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing.
How was the job search process between your experience with the Fellows program and being hired at Herbalife? How did you stay confident and committed to the job search process during that time?
During my internship and co-op at ITG Brands I was still working on my Ph.D. dissertation on the weekends because I did not want to lose the momentum of my research work. After my internship and co-op, I continued my Ph.D. work more intensively and graduated in Spring 2020. During my last semester, I started applying for full-time jobs, attended career fairs, applied on company websites and other social platforms such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed. The job search became difficult due to the pandemic, but I did not lose hope and kept trying. I was confident that I would eventually find a position that I would enjoy; fortunately, I got a job in the environment where I like to work the most – in manufacturing!
How have you used your Fellows experience since finishing the program? How have you found mentors in your new role? How have you been engaged in the Winston-Salem community?
The fellows experience has given me confidence and helped me to stay positive throughout the job search and remaining semesters of my Ph.D. At Herbalife, I have found mentors in the leadership team of the operations facility Phil Williford (Sr. Director of World Wide Operations and Continuous Improvement), Gentry Ellis (Sr. Director of World Wide Manufacturing), and Lance Buchanan (VP of Manufacturing Operations). They have helped me transition smoothly into the industry from the world of academia. I am learning new things every day at my job and am really enjoying working with my team. I am understanding the specific process, language and terminology needed for my job while also working to find creative ways to solve complex problems in my role.
Now that you are two years out of the program and in a professional role, what advice would you give to the Fellows who are just now completing the program? What do you wish you could have known when you were a Fellow?
I would like to tell the graduating fellows to keep learning from what you do and to try to connect the practical experience with their course work and theory in school. If you can relate and connect with what you have learned already, it will encourage you to learn new things quickly and efficiently. Try to learn from the conversations with your peers, managers and people you work with too!
Would you like to add anything else about your Fellows experience or time in the program?
I want to thank the Campus Greensboro team for their tremendous efforts to provide a unique platform for university students to gain work experience and connect to the current growing industries in the Greensboro area.
Thank you for sharing your story Abhay – we are so proud of you and wish you all the best in your new role!