We are eagerly following the MBA class of 2022 as they embark on their new career adventures following their graduation in May. Raleigh Woods, who took a job with SpaceX after graduation, gives us a look inside her new position and explains how the Walton MBA program helped prepare her for this opportunity.
Ever since childhood, Raleigh had been interested in the space program and becoming an astronaut. In first grade, her parents enrolled her in Space Camp. Raleigh and her dad spent a few days doing moon walk simulations, watching movies about Mars, participating in a rocket launch to the international space station, and building small toy rockets.
When it was time for Raleigh to go to college, she was still passionate about space but chose an undergraduate major in business. She explains “I know that no matter what the industry, anything from art to healthcare to space exploration, there are business roles that help support them.”
Raleigh continued her education at the University of Arkansas and received her MBA from the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The experience was life changing for Raleigh. “Each year, I would look back and say, I’ve learned so much -- look how much I’ve changed. By the end of the program, I had grown academically, personally, and professionally. There were three elements that were the base catalyst for these periods of growth.”
“First, the people. The diverse group of people with different life experiences and backgrounds helped me understand the different ways people approach life. I got to peer into their lives and see what shaped their perspective on elements of life. These conversations helped me gain an understanding on various viewpoints.”
“Second, there were critical professors on my journey that challenged me. Undergrad professor Dr. Rapert set an excellent example of how to be a great, respected, smart, and kind female leader who excelled at her job! MBA professor Dr. Anand always sought to push students to be the best versions of themselves and installed the belief in us that we could do grand things. There are many other professors who shaped me, and I am so grateful for them as well.”
“Finally, there were the study abroad experiences. I had the privilege of studying in Italy, India, and doing Model United Nations in Germany. I was exposed to a whole different way of life. In India, we saw people’s daily lives, we experienced rural villages, we walked the halls and talked with executives from India’s largest companies, toured factories. The time I spent traveling, observing, and learning helped me put the pieces together of how the world works and give me a much broader view of life.”
Once Raleigh was equipped with the education and life skills learned through the MBA program, she was ready to tackle the business world and SpaceX. Raleigh shares how she discovered the opportunity at SpaceX and the power of a well created resume and networking “I had a conversation with a friend who challenged me to apply for the industries I really loved. I have been following SpaceX and was regularly checking job postings. Having a personal contact at a company can be helpful, so I went on LinkedIn and searched “SpaceX + University of Arkansas” and 2 people came up. One was a lady in supply chain. I reached out to her asking if she would have time to talk and share her experience with SpaceX. She bypassed the get to you know parts and just said send me your resume -- we are hiring.
Raleigh had to go through a grueling interview process with SpaceX. “I did three 30-minute phone calls and then was flown to Seattle for the final interview. There I did a 20-minute presentation and 6 one-on-one interviews! It was a very exciting process but also rigorous.”
Raleigh also shares what set her apart from other candidates.
“Beyond feeling confident in my skills and experiences, I believe I set myself apart by showing my curiosity. The role I will be doing interfaces with engineers, and while I love logical thinking and building things, I don’t have any experience in manufacturing. I expressed excitement about learning the processes and being able to translate between engineers and suppliers.”
Congratulations, Raleigh! We wish you success at SpaceX and all your future endeavors!