I lived in Los Angeles for 10 years before moving to Knoxville. The lifestyle changes were dramatic—but very welcome. There is nowhere near as much traffic, for starters. Here I have access to a good music scene and shopping without driving far, and the city is surprisingly multicultural, so I have opportunities to engage with different perspectives and mindsets.
I can go hiking, camping, or horseback riding on beautiful trails not far from town. Or I can get inexpensive flights to Austin, Texas, or Boston for a weekend away. I feel safe here. I have two kiddos in a really good school, and there is a strong sense of community here. You can always find someone to help if you get a flat tire.
I’m new to the working world—I finished my undergraduate degree in psychology in May of last year at Maryville College, and then I started my master’s in data science and analytics at Clemson University because the job market was uncertain. We were early into the COVID pandemic at the time and everybody was struggling to adapt.
When I saw that CGI was coming to Knoxville, it seemed like a really great opportunity. There was a posting about recruiting from campus locations and looking for recent graduates, so I applied that way. I was very much interested in the social responsibility component of CGI; it matters to me that the culture of the company I work for meshes with my own, valuing people, relationships, and community.
CGI hired me as a business analyst and I went through the SOAR program with some other new hires. It’s a nice way to get to know people who are at the same stage as you in their careers. It helped me get very familiar with the culture of CGI and the way things are structured. SOAR also allowed me the opportunity to interact with and ask questions of people who are higher up in the company. It allows you to have conversations that you wouldn't necessarily get to have otherwise.
During my interview process, there was a lot of interest in my undergrad thesis. I expected to talk about my graduate work in data science, but people asked about my thesis for undergrad, which was about soft skill development. It felt good having conversations about something I was so passionate about; that I was interviewing with a company that recognized the importance of those things and how hard they are to measure and teach.I hope other people who are considering a career at CGI, especially recent graduates, will read this. My advice for them is, don't be afraid to ask – don't be afraid to have conversations. You can be comfortable asking for help, advice or opportunities. What I have found so far is that CGI really supports you, both the people you work with directly and the people up the chain. They want you to succeed, not just for the company but also for yourself. They want to give you opportunities to learn, grow, and have experiences if it’s possible. Do not be afraid to ask.
Feeling a sense of belonging
CGI’s mission and core values are amenable to my favorite thing professionally—building relationships. Interacting with people and networking, and building strong, lasting relationships really adds value wherever you work. That’s what you bring to the table: your reputation and the relationships that you've developed. That is built into CGI's business model. Everybody is respectful and kind and really wants to see others succeed.
Being part of one of CGI’s delivery centers is a privilege. Instead of targeting an area where there are already a lot of technology companies and tech jobs, CGI’s delivery centers provide services and opportunities to people in smaller cities and adjacent rural areas.
Some of the flexibility I’ve enjoyed came as the company adapted to COVID-19, but the company culture supports a healthy balance between work and life. They support you bringing your whole self to CGI, being a whole person. You don’t have to be one person at work and someone else at home. I don’t have to turn myself off to go to work. CGI doesn’t just accept its members; it supports and creates space within the company for them through social groups CGI offers, such as Pride@CGI and the Black Member Alliance.
I am still in training for the project I’ll be working on, but already I can see that working here I have access to different types of industries, different parts of the country, even different parts of the world. I think there's a lot of opportunity for learning laterally and moving into new positions if there's an opportunity. I feel like it is safe to talk to your manager about your aspirations for growth, and I doubt that is true everywhere.
I recently interviewed for and was selected as the chair for the CSR committee here in Knoxville. I am so honored I get to serve in this position, not just as a professional growth opportunity, but also because corporate social responsibility was one of the key driving forces behind my decision to apply at CGI. Even though I am new to the company and early in my career, they didn’t see those factors do be disqualifiers, and really believed in the thoughts and ideas I brought to the table in my interview for the role.
I'm also very excited to be a part of the mentor program when that cycle comes back around. However, whether it’s through a formal mentor/mentee program or just asking questions and having conversations, CGI provides opportunities to interact with colleagues supporting different industries and bringing different viewpoints. If you're learning, then you're growing.
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.