The K-State PFA recently caught up with Pierce Stephens, 2015 graduate of Kansas State University, to discuss opportunities at K-State that helped him be successful in his career. Pierce, a Manhattan native, received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, majoring in Business Management and Management Information Systems. While in college, Pierce was involved in Student Foundation, K-State Proud, Mortar Board Senior Honorary, K-State Sales Team, New Student Services, Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, and Pi Sigma Epsilon Marketing Club. He now works for Phillips 66 and resides in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Describe your transition from college to career. What were some of the major adjustments?
My transition from college to career was a lot quicker than anticipated. I started my full-time role with the Phillips 66 IT new hire program just two weeks after graduation. The new hire program lasted two months where my new hire class learned all about the company, oil and gas industry, and information technology. Upon completion of the program we were placed in our first “big kid” jobs, which was definitely an adjustment. The first big adjustment was learning how to best budget my time transitioning from college to a full time work schedule. Another adjustment was understanding the importance of work-life balance, which goes hand in hand with prioritizing and budgeting my time.
What resources at K-State, if any, did you utilize to help with your future career?
During undergrad I took advantage of services provided by the Career Center including resume madness, mock interviews, career fairs, and various networking opportunities with companies and corporate sponsors. Some of my most valuable resources at K-State were my amazing organization advisers, professors, and mentors. I owe a lot to my organization advisers, as they always encouraged me to think differently and played a huge role in my growth as an undergrad.
What role, if any, did your parent(s) play in your collegiate years as well as your transition to career?
I have to say that my parents were my biggest cheerleaders throughout my undergraduate journey. After changing my major twice, my parents encouraged me even though I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do when I grew up. I took my parents advice to connect with advisers and mentors and it allowed me to find something that matched my interests and passion. I’m not sure I could’ve done it without their support and encouragement along the way. I continue to seek advice from my parents since being in the “real-world.”
What advice do you have to current students as they finish their degrees and hope to start their careers in their given field? Any advice for parents?
My advice to graduating students would be to step outside of your comfort zone. Whether that means moving far away or taking a job with a heavy learning curve outside your expertise, do something that scares you because it’s a great way to grow. Additionally, I’d say learning does not end in the classroom, nor does it end once you walk across the stage to receive your degree. Seize as many learning opportunities that present themselves throughout your career because you never know where one might take you. Lastly, I would highly recommend seeking a professional mentor (or several) who challenge you to set goals as you progress throughout your career.
What experience at K-State best prepared you for life after graduation?
I feel as though my involvement with the K-State Sales Team and New Student Services both prepared me for life after graduation. Coming from more of a technical background, the sales team allowed me to refine my negotiating and persuasion skills while giving campus tours taught me how to be flexible and patient working with different types of people. Both experiences helped me realize no matter your background you’ll always need to be able to sell yourself and tell your story in the professional world.
Tell us about your current job and where you are now.
Currently I work in Information Technology for Phillips 66 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Specifically, I’m an SAP Analyst for our Finance and Accounting organization. Essentially I am in a business analyst type role where I support the finance business organization and I work between them and the technical developers to solve business problems along with support to current programs. I’ve been in this current role for three years and continue to learn and love what I do along the way. Outside of my day job, I am the K-State lead recruiter for IT at Phillips 66.
Thank you, Pierce! We appreciate you sharing your experiences with parents and families.