Why cross-functional learning shouldn’t end with a diploma

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By Davina Mazaroli & Alexis Unwalla, Anheuser-Busch

Diversify your skillset – common advice given to students these days. But if cross functional learning & development is a no-brainer in the classroom, why should it end once you have your diploma? To reach your peak professional potential, it’s important to find a company that actively pushes you to learn through versatile opportunities and job experiences.

The U.S. Department of Education has found an 85% increase in the number of college students earning multiple majors over the last 10 years. Students are interested in broadening their knowledge during college in order to optimize the types of job opportunities available after graduation.  Multiple majors could mean multi-disciplinary career paths!! Which is fantastic… but you need to stop and evaluate what those career paths actually look like.  Many job opportunities presented to college grads come with a one-path-fits-all structure. Banking analyst program? After 2-3 years you might be given an offer to become an Associate.  Have two years as an Advertising Assistant Account Executive under your belt? Congrats, you can now move up one rung to an Account Executive role. Yes, upward mobility is important but sometimes it comes at the cost of flexibility, speed, and cross-functional jobs.

Cross functional learning is one of the driving factors behind career planning at Anheuser-Busch and our global parent company, AB InBev. Just like you wouldn’t only take economics courses in college, we don’t believe all employees should just stay in one area of the business (like trade marketing or accounting).  Ambitious college students become ambitious employees and we fundamentally believe you need to constantly challenge yourself.  To keep our talented employees challenged & engaged, we need to give them the opportunity to learn new skills – which requires going outside of their comfort zone…taking a job that they’ve had no experience in before.  An employee might start in Finance before moving over to Logistics or Procurement.   This kind of cross-functional training begins on day 1 for recent grads accepted into our Global Management Trainee and Global MBA programs.  But don’t take my word for it, click here to listen to some employees discuss their career path.

Remember – don’t climb the corporate ladder with blinders on.  Moving up is important but early on in your career it’s important to learn as much as you can about different parts of the business / industry and take jobs in areas you never thought you’d be interested in.  You’ll be a better employee for it and, who knows, you might find a new job you are passionate about along the way.

To learn more about our culture and Global Management Trainee and Global MBA programs, head to our website: http://www.anheuser-busch.com/careers/student-programs.html

Davina Mazaroli is the Vice President of People Continuity for Anheuser-Busch. She has a B.A. from Emory University and a M.A. from New York University.

Alexis Unwalla is an Employer Brand Managers at Anheuser-Busch. She has a B.S. from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.

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