Currently working on the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro, Jeremy Kearney, Interior Design Release Engineer, General Motors Co., is responsible for the definition of requirements, design, analysis, development, and control of interior components. Outside of his engineering responsibilities, he mentors GM's JumpStart Employee Resource Group and has been instrumental in organizing the Future Leader Program (www.sae.org/events/convergence/futureleader) at SAE Convergence 2012. AEI Assistant Editor Matthew Monaghan recently spoke with Kearney to learn about this exciting new program and his passion for engineering:
What does the JumpStart program offer new employees?
The whole purpose of JumpStart is to engage, develop, and connect GM’s newest talent. Typically, new employees when they come into an organization such as General Motors can get lost in the shuffle, so this brings together those new employees and helps them get a better understanding of what GM’s really about. Most times you are not put in a group with another new employee, so you’re working with a lot of people that you don’t necessarily relate to that may be a little older and have a little bit more experience. JumpStart not only helps you develop professionally but also gives you that social aspect where you can just talk and meet new people and also learn new things about GM.
How do you balance your engineering workload with these added responsibilities?
Of course, the job comes first; you have to excel there first. Because I’m passionate about it, putting in the extra hours after work isn’t a difficult task. One of the reasons I’m passionate about it is because I know how much it helped me when I came into GM. I’m from out of state and didn’t really know anybody when I came here, so having the opportunity to meet new people and see things outside my normal job helped me stay. With a lot of new employees, we want to get in, hit the ground running, and really get in there ... There are a lot of great leadership responsibilities when you’re a part of JumpStart, so it helps fill that void.
What is important to remember as a young engineer just getting started?
You have to be patient; you can’t expect to get everything when you first walk in the door. At the same time, never get complacent with where you are—always want more, always want to push the envelope.
As a young engineer, why is professional development so important?
You have to always develop professionally. The day you stop going forward you start to go backwards. You have to always have the attitude of, there’s always more I can learn and always more I want to learn, which is a reason why I’m a huge supporter of higher education—not just getting your undergrad but getting your master’s, whether it’s supported by your organization or not.
What advice do you have for young people entering the engineering profession?
Most people look for the job that gives them the money, and they may get the job and be very skilled and use those skills in that area, but they’re not always happy. When you’re working, you’re going to spend eight, nine, ten hours a day, sometimes even more than that, on this job, so the best thing to do is do something you love doing. It’s not about the money; it’s really about finding what you’re passionate about and definitely going to that field.
What are your expectations for the Convergence event and how did you become involved?
When I was President of JumpStart, I was asked to come in and help them market the event for a broader demographic. I came to them and asked if it's a possibility to have me do a little more than just help advertise it. Maybe we can put something together that will provide more value to the younger demographic to make them want to come to Convergence. We put the team together and we came up with what I believe is a really phenomenal program, and we presented it to SAE and said these are the things that we want to do, and they loved it.
What value do you see from the mentor-mentee relationship?
The biggest takeaway is a better understanding from both sides. Sometimes I think our generation sees corporate America as stale, black and white, and we need to go in and change the whole system. Many times the older generation sees us as not willing to listen and wanting to come in and just take over. I think this mentor relationship brings two sides together and allows you to talk and get a better understanding of each other’s perspective, so that way it’s not a division between each other but a better understanding.
What are your career goals moving forward?
Just continue to advance within the organization and to make a mark wherever I go. I grew up loving cars; that’s the only reason I came to Detroit. The only companies I ever applied to were auto companies. I don’t want to be known as somebody who comes into an organization, gets a job done, and then goes to the next thing; I want to make wherever I go better than it was before I got there.