What will the future of work look like five years from now? 10? 15? And more importantly, how can we prepare today’s students to be ready for it?
It’s a question Shaina Wright ’08 has spent the last several years researching, and it’s work that’s led to her new role as a strategy program manager in People Operations at Google.
“The types of employees that will be attractive to employers in the future are those with skills that cannot be automated by AI or outsourced to robots,” Wright said. “These are skills like critical thinking, problem solving and strategic communications. These human skills allow us to focus on high value work.”
These are also the core skills that Wright learned at Gettysburg. They’ve helped her navigate her career across industries.
“I started my career consulting for large federal government agencies and now I work in the tech industry in Silicon Valley,” she said. “At the end of the day, I love solving complex problems and I learned how to do that at Gettysburg."
For Wright, it was advisors like Political Science Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw and experiences such as spending a semester abroad studying the political landscape in South Africa and competing on the Women’s Soccer team that taught her these core skills and instilled the importance of curiosity and learning.
Gettysburg also provided her with an opportunity to reflect on her own personal values in a First-Year Seminar that tackled a complex subject that people are hesitant to discuss—“Death and the Meaning of Life,” taught by Religious Studies Prof. Charles (Buz) Myers. The crux of the course is that you must confront the reality of your own death in order to live your life according to things that are most important to you.
“This course was a life changing experience for me,” Wright said. “The books we read, the opportunity for reflection and the different perspectives in class really challenged my own views of the world. It provided me with an opportunity to plan with the end in mind and come up with a personal mission that has helped guide my decisions throughout my life.”
After graduating from Gettysburg as a political science major and religious studies minor, Wright continued her education at George Mason University and then started her career in consulting. She eventually joined Deloitte as a management consultant and had the opportunity to work and learn from fellow alum, Board of Trustee member, and Deloitte Consulting Principal Lindsay Musser Hough ’98. Hough encouraged Wright to pursue projects and clients in tech.
Now at Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, Wright is thrilled to work for a company that she views as transforming almost every aspect of human existence.
“I’ve always admired Google,” Wright said. “I can’t think of another company that has changed the world at such a massive scale in the way that Google has, and for me, it’s very exciting to be part of a place with such aspirational goals.”
Situated in Silicon Valley, employees have access to Google-branded bikes to commute across campuses and can enjoy the organic gardens and art installations that scatter the grounds. Inside the buildings are cafes and creative spaces to support collaboration and innovation. Yet as amazing as Wright has found the actual workplace to be, what really impresses her is the mission-oriented culture Google has cultivated.
“Google is on a quest to make the world’s information accessible and useful to everyone. I’m really impressed with how often this mission statement comes up in everyday conversations and decision making,” Wright said. “I have the opportunity to work with some of the smartest people in the world that are focused on making a positive impact on people’s lives; it’s incredibly motivating.”
Wright’s work is focused on ensuring Google remains a great place for employees to grow and learn to help advance this mission.
Wright maintains that her career success hinges on the core skills she learned at Gettysburg as well as her liberal arts education and experiences. Her passion for curiosity doesn’t hurt, either.
“I was curious, I saw an opportunity and I wanted to give it a try,” Wright said. “It’s been a great experience for me so far, and I’m excited to see what more I can do here.”
By Kasey Varner ’14