From Intern to Regional Manager: Career tips for internal career growth
Claire A., Regional Manager
New South Wales, Australia
She | Her | Hers
Although her first exposure to Stryker was over a decade ago, Claire remembers it like it was yesterday. During a class tour of the Stryker facility, she sat through a presentation about Stryker’s mission, values, and culture. The energy radiating around everyone speaking led her to think “I’ve got to work here someday!” Fast-forward to 2023, and not only does Claire work at Stryker, she’s been here since her internship in 2011.
Since starting at Stryker, Claire has been in nine different roles across five different departments. With such a varied career path with one company, she has unique insight into navigating internal mobility.
Here are a few tips on how to set yourself up for success.
1. Build your network and use it
Using her internal network has served Claire well throughout the course of her career. Initially, when her internship in our Regulatory Affairs department wrapped up, Claire still had a year left before finishing her degree in Biomedical Engineering – this left her with a big problem. . . she wasn’t ready for her Stryker journey to come to an end.
Instead of just going back to school and hoping to get a full-time job at Stryker after graduation, she reached out to managers she had built relationships with to see what opportunities were available. Not only was she able to secure a part-time role working one day a week on the Operations Team, she was able to work alongside the Head of Regulatory Affairs to complete her thesis.
Following graduation, Claire knew she wanted to find a permanent role at Stryker. Once again, she connected with various managers within Stryker to find opportunities that were aligned with her skills and interests. The end result? Her first full-time position as a Supply Chain Coordinator.
2. Don’t be afraid to advocate for what you want
“As a recent graduate, I had ambitions of traveling the world for an extended period. I was worried chasing this dream would require me to resign from my job. Before resigning, I decided to talk to my manager and see if it would be possible to take a leave of absence so I could fulfill this dream.”
Claire and her manager worked with her local HR team to map out a plan allowing her to take the desired time away, and return to Stryker at the end of her trip. As it turns out, Claire wasn’t the only employee with travel dreams – her conversation with HR was the catalyst for implementing a new employee benefit called Career Break which enables Stryker employees in Australia and New Zealand* to take up to a year off allowing them to pursue other areas of life they’re passionate about. “I am still so proud that I was able to advocate for myself, and help Stryker develop an initiative that allows others to follow their dreams!”
3. Lean into your strengths, even if they surprise you
After returning from her global excursion, Claire’s manager presented her with a new role in Operations leading a project focused on process improvement and change management. The Head of Learning and Development recognized Claire’s natural talent for training and presentation after attending one of her training sessions. Seeing this strength in action, led him to suggest that she consider a role on his team as a Learning & Development Associate in Human Resources. “I had a manager once tell me that everyone should do a stint in HR at some point in their career to help learn more about how a business is run, and how to manage, influence, and lead people. With this in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to learn new skills and broaden my knowledge!”
4. Know when it’s time to try something different
After four years spent gaining experience in HR, Claire decided she was ready for her next challenge. “I realized that I was yearning to be in a customer-facing role.” After recognizing her desire to try something new, she approached her director and together they formulated a plan to utilize Claire’s skills and transition her into a customer-oriented marketing position.
Through the evolution of her role, Claire eventually became a Product Manager for Stryker’s Neurovascular Division. “I absolutely loved this role and team. I loved being able to get in front of customers and be a product expert. During this time, colleagues would tell me I would do well in sales because of my “people skills”. At this time, I had no intention of changing career paths.”
However, the opportunity came up for a Sales Territory Manager in Claire’s home State, allowing her to continue to work with the team that she loved. She decided the time was right to apply. Today, Claire is still working in sales for Stryker’s Neurovascular division.
5. Show up as the fullest version of yourself
During Claire’s time with Stryker, a lot has changed. She’s taken time off to travel the world, held numerous positions with multiple departments, she’s worked part-time and full-time. She’s been a leader of self, of process, and of people, and has taken the time to focus on raising her children. She’s recruited her husband to join the company, has been involved with Stryker’s Women’s Network, and more.
But in that time, one thing stayed constant - her ability to continue to show up as herself and advocate for the career and life she wants. “Stryker has been so supportive of me as an employee and as an individual. In the last eleven years, I have led a full and varied career due to the opportunities at Stryker and the internal support system here”.
6. Immerse yourself as much as you can
Staying with the company you intern with is a unique opportunity. You truly grow up with the organization. Claire’s number one tip for interns considering accepting a full-time role at Stryker? “Immerse yourself in every opportunity. Put yourself out there to expand your network beyond who you work with on a daily basis. The people at Stryker are what keep me here. I have never been part of a team that I don’t love. The people amaze me. I keep myself surrounded by people who are excellent at what they do, and that is what lifts me up and makes me better at what I do.”
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*Note: Stryker benefits vary by location