Rachel Grandell always had a passion for engineering. When she came to Michigan State University, her coursework in the College of Engineering helped her narrow her interests, leading her to pursue a degree in Biosystems Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering. She also worked as a career peer for the College of Engineering and participated in a variety of STEM organizations on campus.
After graduating in 2015, Grandell accepted a position with General Mills, where she works today.
Grandell credits her many internships with preparing her for her full-time career. She began working in undergraduate research as a first- and second-year student in the Biosystems Engineering Lab. Shifting her focus from lab work, Grandell garnered manufacturing experience during her time as a production engineering intern with Perrigo. Each of her undergraduate experiences taught her to “be open-minded about [her] career journey” and to acknowledge the breadth of opportunities available to graduating students.
To secure positions after graduation, Grandell recommends students attend career fairs. She learned about her full-time position while attending a fall career fair. The ability to interact with different employers helped her network and learn more about each company’s culture and environment. After securing an interview with the General Mills team, she was extended an offer to work as a manufacturing and engineering associate in their rotational engineering program.
Similar to other rotational programs, Grandell was exposed to a variety of experiences in engineering and operations. Working in several roles for short periods of time helped her identify her passions. After her two-year rotation, she began her work as a project engineer, collaborating on corporate-led projects and equipment design. These roles led her to her current position as a global packaging project engineer. Grandell now focuses on supporting North America’s General Mills plants, with the opportunity to travel and meet many different teams.
Speaking to her experience traveling for work, she advises people to “take advantage of travel on a personal level” and experience the local culture of the locations one visits. Though travel can be exhausting, she finds that there are many benefits for one’s personal and professional growth, including networking and exposure to different cultures.
To maintain and build connections, Grandell said, “Never underestimate the power of your network.” For her, the relationships she has made during her professional and academic journeys have helped support her continued growth and learning. She recommends students and alumni alike reach out to people who have interesting career journeys, even if you have not previously met.
When reflecting on her time at MSU, Grandell credits her core classes and senior courses with helping her learn to solve problems and “be effective if you don’t have all the information” about a scenario. Her professors pushed her to think outside the box and be open to creative solutions to the problems presented. MSU’s academic environment helped her feel comfortable to ask questions and to reach out when she needed help.
“Never lose your curiosity,” she advises. The desire to learn that is cultivated during college can take a person far in their professional journey. Continuing to engage with new ideas and opportunities helped Grandell grow into the professional she is today.