Pursuing Passion: Taking a Chance on a Career in Tech
March 23, 2017 | Express Scripts
For Jay, his love for computers started at a very young age. Growing up in China, he fondly remembers writing love letters with Microsoft Word and using computers heavily in school. When it came time for middle school, Jay took a programming class to learn Visual Basic. While he could easily follow what the teacher was doing, he had a difficult time understanding the coding aspect. “I began to get discouraged and thought I was never going to be very good at programming so I sort of gave up,” Jay shares.
Switching it Up
When it came time for Jay to start college, he came to the United States to attend school at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “Even though I felt a tug to major in something computer related, I ignored it and decided to choose a field that would be easier to get a job in come graduation. I landed in accounting,” he says.
Given the language barrier, Jay had a hard time understanding many of his teachers and the accounting material. However, he admits that his heart just wasn’t in it. “I saw other international students all around me majoring in fields they were passionate about, regardless of the ease of getting a job post-graduation,” he recalls. Jay decided to take a chance and switched his major to Computer Science. “At the time, I had no idea that computer and programming related positions would become such hot jobs,” he shares.
Making a Connection
During a hackathon hosted at his university, Jay met a representative from Express Scripts. “We started talking at the event and I expressed my interest in becoming an iOS developer,” he recalls. “I was impressed by the rep’s passion for the technology industry and how open-minded he was when it came to adopting new practices and programs. After our talk, I knew I wanted to work there after I graduated.”
A week later, Jay sent an email to one the contacts he met during the hackathon containing links to all relevant projects he worked on during college. The contact forwarded the email to another leader who brought Jay in for an interview. A few weeks later, Jay was extended an offer. “I’m so thankful the contact took an interest in me,” he says. “After all, she’s one of the main reasons I was noticed.”
After graduating in 2016, Jay accepted a position as an associate programmer analyst with Express Scripts in the company’s newly opened Austin office. “The job is never boring. I feel like I learn something new every day and I’m always challenged, which – as a programmer – is crucial,” he shares.
Jay and his team recently had the opportunity to work on building the company’s Digital Benefit Guide (DBG). This application allows members to download a digital member ID card to be stored on their mobile devices. Any updates to their health plan or benefits will automatically update the digital card on their phone, eliminating the need to mail members a new card every time there is a change.
While this was a fascinating project for Jay to work on, he was able to experience the advantage it gives patients and members firsthand. “I have allergies that require me to take medication regularly,” he shares. “ When I went to my pharmacy the last time for a refill, I was told the card I presented was expired and unless I could produce one that was updated, I would be unable to get my medication.”
Fortunately, Jay was able to download his member ID card through the DGB, show the updated card and receive his medicine. However, this was a teachable moment. “I realized that without the DBG I helped build, I could have gone without my medication,” he says. While it may not have been a huge issue for Jay, it could have been life-threatening for other people with far more serious conditions. “I was extremely proud to be working at Express Scripts that day because I was able to experience firsthand the impact of the work we do as a company,” he comments.
Thinking back to college, Jay is so thankful he decided to follow his passion and trade his major in accounting for computer science. “My problems with programming in middle school disappeared in college. I understood the content perfectly,” shares Jay. “Now, it is my sincere belief that in most cases, people are good at what they are passionate about. My advice to others is to choose a job or a field you love so that you can wake up and say ‘yay, it’s Monday’ rather than ‘yay, it’s Friday’.”
Jay is an associate programmer analyst in Express Scripts’ Austin office, working to document, design, develop, and test web applications and services.
Ready to do what you’re passionate about, like Jay? Check out our career site for a list of our open positions!« Boot, Scoot and Boogieing into Austin, Texas|
Boot, Scoot and Boogieing into Austin, Texas
March 21, 2017 | Express Scripts
In December 2015, I sat in an interview listening to how the position I was applying for would help the company evolve in coming years. As I listened, the wheels in my head started turning. You see, the needs and goals being described to me suggested a gap in the company’s technical talent. I shared my vision on how to solve this problem and was given an intriguing offer a few days later: join Express Scripts and help the company build an office in Austin, Texas dedicated to filling the gaps around technology, usability and user experience.
Fast forward about 14 months and Express Scripts’ location in Austin has approximately 30+ employees in design, user experience, usability and research and software engineering. We are right in the heart of Silicon Hills, Texas at the Domain. While the progress we’ve made has been tremendous, there is still much to accomplish. Over the next few years, we are focused on continuing to move Express Scripts further into the digital space. With our emphasis on technology, we expect to see the Austin footprint grow to about 200 employees. We’re on the lookout for visual designers, UX research experts, UI engineers and architects, technical product owners, scrum masters, content writers and technical writers to help with this digital transformation.
We’re TECHnically Awesome
It’s a really exciting time to be part of the Express Scripts team for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, our senior leadership is counting on us to design and build new software platforms to support our digital products, which make an impact on 85M+ lives regularly. The talent we are in the process of bringing on board, although new to our organization and often our industry, are highly skilled experts from various technology verticals.
The organization has recently adopted common development tools (like JIRA, Confluence, HipChat, Git, Jenkins) and continues to look for areas to further improve legacy processes and overall developer culture.
We are also heavily invested in test and behavior driven development, while leveraging build automation tools, to help improve speed to market velocity and the quality of products we offer our clients and their employees.
A Push Towards Digital
As we work to move the company further into the digital space, there are several exciting initiatives we are focusing on in 2017. First, we are looking at things like client communications, which are being sent in letter form today. Over the next few months, we want to put these messages into a digital format that can be received through various digital channels (e.g., email, SMS, etc.).
Additionally, we are implementing a Content Management System (CMS) for various healthcare applications across the company, which will be at the core of our transformation efforts. CMS will enable the company, as well as our clients, to react quickly and deliver health critical and life supporting information to consumers in a rapid fashion.
We did something similar late last year when we created a digital benefits guide, an application which allows members to download a digital member ID card to be stored on their mobile devices. Any updates to their health plan or benefits will automatically update the digital card on their phone, eliminating the need to mail members a new card every time there is a change.
It’s All about Collaboration
When stepping into the Austin site, it doesn’t take long to realize it looks and feels much different than traditional office settings. Instead of the typical cube farms, we have long tables, writable walls and several TVs throughout the office space. It’s an “open seating concept,” offering a unique start-up feel.
Implementing such a workspace has allowed collaboration between teams to flourish. You can often find people gathered around a TV or a white board wall drawing pictures, graphs or workflows, while discussing a new concept or an idea.
Work Hard Play Hard
As a leader at the Austin site, I live by a work hard, play hard mentality. If my team members are working hard and delivering great work, they’re going to be recognized. There’s a lot of transparency, trust and empowerment going up and down all levels and across different teams.
When employees need some time to reset their minds or are stuck on a problem that needs solving, you might find them taking some time to play Ping Pong, challenging a teammate to a gaming battle on the office Xbox, or simply spending time solving puzzlers from our “brain teaser” wall.
Our goal in Austin is to create an environment where people don’t just clock in, clock out and go home. Instead, we want to create an environment for employees to feel comfortable and challenged to not only do great work, but also be able to recharge when they need a break.
Connect with Us
Over the last few months, we have gotten ourselves equipped to life in Austin and can focus on hiring great talent to take an active part in our technology transformation efforts. Throughout the year, we will be hosting a series of hackathons to network with individuals in Austin. If you would like to be involved in our upcoming hackathons, or if the work we are doing sounds appealing, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn or visit our careers site for a complete list of open positions.
Igor Krasnykh, Director of UX and Web Development Strategy – working on building winning teams and a stellar culture.
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My Secret Sauce: How to Stand Out in a Sea Full of Interns
March 7, 2017 | Express Scripts
After 15 years of recruiting for positions across a wide variety of industries, my all-time favorite candidate pool has always been interns. A few years ago, when management expressed an interest in growing our internship program at Express Scripts and creating a team specific to hiring university talent, I jumped at the opportunity.
I think a lot of college students are clueless about what they want to do when they graduate, except for the tugging feeling to “make a difference”. That’s where I come in. Talking to students and hiring interns allows me to find their true passions and hone in on their strengths. Being able to guide a student to a new area they’ve never tried, but find they excel in – like Operations or Technology – is when I get the most joy from my job.
Although interns are a great and plentiful candidate pool to recruit for, it’s not always easy for candidates to land an internship position. Competition over internships is fierce. Sometimes your resume isn’t always enough – getting noticed is the key. But how exactly do you make yourself standout in a pile full of resumes? Here’s my secret sauce.
LinkedIn is the New Resume
When I meet a student at a career fair that I find interesting, the first thing I do is pull up their LinkedIn page. Though it’s 2017, you would be shocked at how many students aren’t on LinkedIn – or they may have a profile, but it’s extremely outdated. Not having a rock-solid LinkedIn presence is a HUGE missed opportunity.
LinkedIn allows me to see a more complete person versus just a paper resume. I have a chance to read their elevator pitch in the summary section, easily evaluate a presentation or project they’ve worked on using the rich media content section, or understand their interests based on groups they’ve joined.
Take Phone Screens Seriously
While initial phone screens at Express Scripts are quick – about 30 minutes long – they are crucial in determining if a candidate is a potential right fit. My team and I try to make the interviewee feel comfortable and relaxed, but sometimes we’ve had candidates get a little too comfortable and their filters have gone out the window.
Even if a recruiter is taking a casual tone with you, you should still watch the language you use. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be yourself. Just make sure to watch the ‘yeahs’, ‘craps’, ‘uh-huhs’, and ‘shits’. Oh yes, I’ve heard it all.
Do your Homework
In almost every interview I give, I ask candidates to tell me what they know about Express Scripts. While I don’t expect you to rattle off the results of our latest quarterly earnings or drug trend report, I do expect you to give me something – even if it’s as simple as what industry we are in or the name of our current CEO.
With access to the internet on people’s phones and even watches, it’s never acceptable to say ‘I don’t know’. If you don’t understand the business or how the company makes money, you can say something like, “I saw online that Express Scripts makes formulary recommendations, can you tell me a little bit about how this helps members save money”. This shows you made an effort to research the company and are eager to know more.
Make a Personal Connection
While oftentimes, recruiters are seen as the gatekeepers between you and a new job, we are people first and foremost. I LOVE making a personal connection with the candidates I meet and I appreciate when they make an effort to get to know me and not just the job for which I am recruiting.
This can be as simple as seeing me at a career fair and saying, “oh, I saw on your LinkedIn page that you like 80s music, what’s your favorite band,” to start a conversation. At the end of the day, we all have to work together as people and making a personal connection will make it a bit more enjoyable.
Always Follow Up
Following up is great way to let the recruiter know you enjoyed talking to him, or her, and it reiterates your interest in a position. A quick ‘thank you’ email – sent within 24 hours of the interview – is an easy and stress free way of following up. Handwritten notes, however, are my personal favorite. In today’s digital world, we recruiters don’t get many of these anymore, so we remember when we do.
Additionally, I’ve been asked quite frequently if I find it weird when candidates connect with me on LinkedIn after an interview. My answer is no. In fact, I usually expect it. Now, if they asked to be my friend on Facebook, that’s a different story.
When it comes to internships positions, it’s all about staying top-of-mind.
Allison is a Sr. Manager in University Relations – Talent Acquisition. The mission of University Relations is to identify, attract and retain innovative and diverse career entry talent for Express Scripts.
Are you ready to stand out? Check out our careers page for complete list of internships.« Man with a Plan: From Working in the Call Center to Running It| Boot, Scoot and Boogieing into Austin, Texas »
Man with a Plan: From Working in the Call Center to Running It
February 28, 2017 | Express Scripts
Rich W., site director of our Patient Care Center in St Marys, Georgia, is a prime example of how to move up the career ladder. Over the years, he worked his way up from an entry-level call center position to a director-level leadership position. Now, he hopes his story will encourage others to strive for the same success he’s had.
Thirteen years ago, Rich joined Medco (which was later acquired by Express Scripts, in 2012) as a patient care advocate in the call center, and he came in with a plan. “I based it on showcasing my talent,” he said. “Every two years, I wanted to be promoted, with the ultimate goal of becoming an executive vice president in the company.”
The first thing Rich did was meet with his supervisor to discuss this plan and start learning the complexities of both the company and the industry. “I read about our competition and where we fit in the market,” he said. “Understanding market realities helped me think at a larger scale and be more strategic in my thinking. I knew I needed to assess the business at all levels. I immersed myself in the business by volunteering to help lead service initiatives in various lines of business across the organization.”
Sticking to his two-year plan, he applied for a call center supervisor role and landed the position. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to senior supervisor, and then manager.
“When I became manager, I came to a crossroads in my career and had to make a decision,” he said. “I could have moved to another department, like the Service Center or Front End Pharmacy, but I chose to stay the course in the call center so I could be an influence for change.”
Rich continued his rise through leadership and was named call center site leader in Las Vegas and site director in Dublin, OH, before assuming his current role as site director in St. Marys.
When asked what advice he has for people who want to follow in his footsteps, he shared three words that are very meaningful to him: Live and learn.
“Everyone has strengths and opportunities, but to be honest, we can’t really do anything on our own,” he said. “We need to gather and use the wisdom and experience from others to help us proceed.”
Additionally, Rich urges others to get out of their comfort zone, be receptive to feedback and be open to new opportunities. “By positioning yourself the best you can, the rest will fall into place,” he shared. “It all starts with a plan.”
Rich is a site director at Express Scripts’ Patient Care Center in St. Marys, GA.
Learn more about opportunities with Express Scripts on our career site.« From Express Scripts to Brazil and Back Again: Creating Opportunity through Meaningful Reporting Relationships| My Secret Sauce: How to Stand Out in a Sea Full of Interns »
From Express Scripts to Brazil and Back Again: Creating Opportunity through Meaningful Reporting Relationships
February 8, 2017 | Express Scripts
My tenure with Express Scripts has been nothing short of eventful. Over the course of nine years, I’ve held positions in four offices in three different cities. While I’ve learned a great deal during my time here, the one lesson that stands out is the need to create meaningful reporting relationships. Without that lesson, I may have never been able to return after leaving the company in 2015.
Saying Goodbye – For Now
After celebrating our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to live out a long nurtured passion and embark on a missionary trip to Manaus, Brazil. It was a journey we both had on our bucket lists before we met and we felt it was time to bring to fruition.
With a heavy heart, I made the tough decision to leave Express Scripts in September of 2015. Although I knew I was making the right decision by choosing Brazil, it didn’t make leaving any easier.
Prior to my departure, I made a personal promise to myself to keep in touch with a few leaders in the Human Resources department in hopes of finding an opportunity to return to Express Scripts at the conclusion of my trip.
While in Brazil, I sent emails back and forth to a few of my past co-workers and leaders. This was just my way of saying hello and keeping in touch. In some I shared pictures I took throughout my trip and in others I shared stories about my experience.
After six months in 115 degree weather and strenuous conditions, my husband and I returned to the States with humble hearts and an immense appreciation for life at home. I discovered that while I was away, I had received an unexpected, but highly anticipated, email from one of my past leaders at Express Scripts. To my surprise, she told me there was an HR Senior Advisor position open within Employee and Labor Relations and she thought I would be a perfect fit. I was overwhelmed she thought of me after all this time – and thankful I kept my promise and managed to maintain relationships through email while I was gone!
Accepting the job was a no-brainer. After all, Employee Relations was my passion. I felt that way when I left for Brazil and, in all honesty, the trip only cultivated my passion even more. Being immersed in a new culture and expected to find ways of building rapport with people in all walks of life was an incredible experience. With the new appreciation and perspective I gained, I knew I was ready for anything.
Appreciation and Compassion
From day one, I have always found Express Scripts to be a place where I can build a life I love. Coming back has only made that feeling stronger. My time here has enabled me the balance of growing personally, as well as professionally.
I returned with a newfound compassion for the people I come across on a daily basis, and that only makes me better at my job when helping employees bring forward their concerns.
My tenure here, albeit full of change, has been extremely rewarding. While I might not encourage everyone to take the path I did, I would advocate doing what you can to educate yourself and have the courage to make the moves that fit your lifestyle. If you do decide to take the leap and make a move, always remember to create meaningful reporting relationships. If you do, I promise it can take you miles.
Karina is a Senior HR Advisor within the Advisor Services Team.
Ready to make a career move, like Karina? Take a look at our open positions and see what may be a fit for you.« My “Aha” Moments: 4 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self| Man with a Plan: From Working in the Call Center to Running It »