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Finding Your Path

Maggie Weefur

Age: 26

Job: BNSF Railways Marketing Management Trainee

Location: Dallas, Texas

The YoPro Know has become very well-acquainted with YoPros from Georgia State, thanks to one of our original interviews with Nick Miller. Tigi is responsible for connecting us to Maggie, who I know will inspire you with her unique career path.

Can you give an overview of your background?

I went to Georgia State University and got two bachelor's degrees, one in marketing and one in managerial sciences. Right after I graduated, I got a job as a store executive for Kohls. My position included running the code department and overseeing the management of the district. This job wasn’t a good fit, because the position wasn't necessarily what I found myself doing in the long run. Because of this, I decided to go back to school and get a master's of science in marketing. Immediately after graduating, I got my current position at BNSF Railways.

What was it about this job that drew you in?

When I originally went to school to get my bachelor's degree, I ended up in a management role that I didn't necessarily want. I realized that I genuinely enjoyed marketing more, so I then decided to explore some more jobs in the field. As I gained more experience, I realized I wanted to do marketing on a much higher macroeconomic level, for a business or a transportation company. When I went back to school to get my marketing degree, it was specifically to get a PMI masters of marketing, so I could gain more experience, training, and knowledge. I also wanted a job that would present more of a challenge, and marketing to higher-level clients, who already know the market, can be challenging. When I got to BNSF I was extremely happy with my choice because I knew it would challenge me.

Can you talk about a hardship that you've had in your young professional career, and what learned from it?

If you are an engineer, financer, or if you have a finance degree, it's a very linear path to where you're going to work, what you're going to do, and the trajectory of your career. However, I think when you have more broad degrees, such as marketing, English, or journalism, the trajectory of your career is not as strict because there are many routes you can take. Figuring out what I wanted to do with my degree, was definitely a hardship of mine. When I was first starting, post-graduation, I started taking whatever position I felt like I had to because I never really sat down and thought about what I truly wanted to do. Sometimes you do have to get in there and just see whether or not you like a position, but for me, I hopped into a position and thought to myself, “well, I have a job and this isn't what I want to do, but I'll figure out something else.” I did not realize at the time if I would have taken a step back and sat down and said to myself, “What do I want to do? Where do I see myself going?", I would have shifted my career midway through my first few working years. Sit down and figure it out, reach out to people, find mentors, and find internships that can tell you whether or not you’ll like a certain job. That was something that I didn't do, and then when I got into some of my careers I realized it was not a job I wanted to be in.

What would your advice be for somebody that's looking to get into your industry?

If you are someone who's interested in any area or avenue, within the transportation, there are multiple departments that you can join. These are big, sustainable companies, that have been around for hundreds of years, so they're not going anywhere. There's a lot of longevity working for a company that has that type of history. I think it is great for marketing professionals that are looking for a role that is a bit more challenging, and not only content creation and your typical day to day pricing and product management. You will learn things that a typical business or consumer marketing executive wouldn't. When I first started working, I had a six-week class that taught me the basics of the railroad yards. Once you get to the higher level, and you’ve been working in the company for about 34 years, they do not want to lose you because that means they’ll have to reteach someone everything you learned during your 34 years. Working in a company like mine, you’ll have more leverage, as opposed to if you were doing something that didn't necessarily require such a specialized knowledge base. You're not as expendable as a professional within the railroad transportation and logistics companies.

Are you impacted by the current pandemic, and if so, how?

Railroad companies have been essential during this pandemic. The majority of products most people consume have been transported through the railroad system at some point. We call ourselves the invisible lifeline of the United States of America because people don't always see railroads unless you live by them, but they're always moving products. We're an essential service, an essential business, and because of that, nothing stops. At the same time, we are subject to what people want to move because all we do is get products from point A to point B. We are the shippers, and the customers are the catalysts for how much we move. So if certain areas are on national lockdowns, then the volume goes down on our end. There are a couple of our headquarters that aren't completely closed, but the majority of us are working from home. There are some essential trained dispatchers that have to be at BNSF headquarters. Throughout the duration of the Coronavirus, we have seen how important the role of our company is because there are certain manufacturing plants or facilities, that are going to be shut down if they don't get their products which are used for people to eat or to help store essential goods. We have to apply more effort and take our business dealings much more seriously. It has been humbling to see how the work that our company does is impacting the country. Sometimes you see products moving, and they just seem like moving products, but with what’s been going on, makes you realize the importance of a product arriving at its destination.

Any last-minute words of advice?

I'm extremely driven and motivated, and what motivates me is my future and the potential for my future. I've always had a very high standard of what I wanted to achieve, and what I wanted to pass down to generations. I think it is important to have a futuristic outlook in order to motivate yourself to keep moving forward.

YoPro Know's Takeaways:

– Don't be afraid to ask yourself 'what do I want to do?" and "where do I see myself going?"

– Find a career that will constantly challenge you.

– When searching for a job, look at the sustainability of the company, and see if it could provide you with a long-term career.

Check it out: BNSF Railway

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