Never stop learning and don't fear change.
If I'm giving my short manifesto of career advice, here it is: Never stop learning and don't fear change. Whether it is technology, a new process or a new area of the business, continue to grow your knowledge of the world around you. Branching out and learning multiple areas of the business is what has allowed me to have such a diverse career in such a short time. You cannot be afraid of what you do not know, so embrace it. And the fuel that makes this philosophy work for me is investing in meaningful relationships with true leaders.
Let's start from the beginning. I was going to school at Michigan State University (go Spartans!) and in my first big internship. Meanwhile, my best friend was an intern with the Snacks Innovation team at Kellogg. Whenever my friend and I were meeting up to work through our class projects, she was always bringing Cheez-Its that she got from work. As the Cheez-Its fan that I am, I liked the idea of being a part of the family of my favorite brands. Sure enough, next summer I was an Intern at the Kellogg Company. I worked hard, played hard, and after six months of being an intern, I found a letter on my desk saying, "Janelle, we have a job ready for you when you graduate."
That first job was an Assistant Food Technician; and since then, my focus on building relationships and learning has taken me on a career path I could have never created alone.
Being part of the startup team
From being part of the startup team for a completely new product line to taking the opportunity to work internationally with global project teams, the opportunities have just kept coming. With a constant supply of Cheez-Its, Special K Nourish Bars, and consistent mentorship from leaders within the company, I have been given opportunities to be in the limelight and show what I can bring to the table on significant "stretch" assignments. Since day one, taking the time to listen to the advice from people around me has truly paid off—in every new challenge, I am continually learning to be a better leader.
If it is not clear by now, relationships have been everything for me—the people at Kellogg are the reason I have been here for over a decade and had the chance to create such a diverse career. So, when you are looking for that new team or company to join, make sure you know what you are stepping into and leverage your network to get more information. Even the best job description can only say so much. Take your time to prepare and think about the questions you really want to know about the team's culture that you are considering. Know what is critical to your personal success and ensure the role is a good fit for both you and the team. That is when I have had the best success.