I started in the QAD Fast Track Program in the summer of 2012, barely a month after graduating from Harvey Mudd College with a BS in computer science and math. As a (very) recent college graduate, I was nervous about entering the “real world” for the first time, about meeting new people and being placed in new situations and proving that I had what it took to make it. I didn’t want to be treated like a newbie and not taken seriously, but I was also nervous that I would be plopped in front of a giant code base and told to figure it out, with no context or help or person who cared whether I succeeded or failed. I love learning, and I love being challenged, but as a lifelong team athlete, I value the learning opportunities that come from teamwork and collaboration, attributes which are lacking in many large tech companies. That is what drew me to QAD and the Fast Track Program in the first place. In the sea of big-name and start-up software companies, the QAD Fast Track Program offered a unique experience to learn, train, understand and prepare for a role in the software industry by working with and learning from others in various roles at QAD.
What Makes the QAD Fast Track Program Different Than an Internship
What’s great about the Fast Track Program is that you’re not starting day one in a brand-new position, having to figure things out as you go. At the same time, it’s also not just an internship where you’re given meaningless projects or treated like you can’t contribute. It’s a program that sees you as an investment, that teaches skills and tools from a variety of perspectives and roles. It provides a 360-degree view of QAD, the manufacturing industry and the software lifecycle in order to give you the necessary context and understanding for you to get up to speed in your potential permanent position at QAD.
In each of the rotations (R&D, Support, Services) Fast Trackers work side-by-side with teams of experienced QADers on real projects and contribute to the success of the teams and the company as a whole. As a Fast Tracker, you learn a lot. Those who come from Industrial Engineering or Supply Chain backgrounds learn the fundamentals of computer programming and software development, while those who, like me, come from a computer science or other technical background learn all about the manufacturing process and business application of the software. Everybody also has to study for and take APICS tests to pass the certification in production and inventory management (CPIM).
As a Fast Tracker, you are challenged and pushed outside of your comfort zone: for some, the challenge comes from learning the technical programming requirements or figuring out how to balance their assigned tasks with studying for APICS. For me, the biggest challenge was overcoming my fear of talking on the phone in the Support rotation. Thinking on my feet and responding to live customers sounded terrifying at first, but the great thing about the Fast Track Program is, regardless of your background or skill set, there is always a safety net of help and support to catch you if you need it. Every team member, in every rotation, cares about your success and is willing to help you learn and grow.
What I Got Out of the QAD Fast Track Program
Ultimately, the Fast Track Program helped me forge connections with people all across QAD, and provided me an understanding of my role in the context of all the various functions within QAD, the manufacturing industry and the software industry. I now work as a Software Engineer in the UX R&D team, and I’ve been involved in various interesting projects, including web and mobile development for our Channel Islands user experience. The skills I learned in the Fast Track Program have given me the ability to come up to speed quickly on new projects, and the understanding I gained of how our software is used by customers has given me insight into how to build a better product and a better customer experience.
If the QAD Fast Track Program sounds like the next step in achieving your career goals, I highly recommend that you check out the QAD Careers page and apply for one of the Associate Engineer – Job Rotation positions. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to work together!