Senior operations management major reflects on transferring to UA, preparing for workforce
By David Miller
University of Alabama senior Megan Anderson will soon begin a job as a production control planner in Lockheed Martin Corp.’s engineering propulsion lab, where she’ll manage materials inventory and production deadlines for engineers in their space program in Colorado.
Stepping into a pivotal role with the nation’s top defense contractor carries lofty expectations, but Anderson isn’t nervous. She made a decision two years ago that would prepare her for this moment: joining UA’s Army ROTC program.
Anderson, who will receive her undergraduate degree in operations management in May, craved the camaraderie she’d achieved through sport after transferring to UA from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, where she started all 16 games as a defender for UAH’s soccer team in 2014. She also wanted the chance to lead and be challenged daily, knowing the experiences would help her transition smoothly into a new work environment.
Spending more than a month surrounded by unfamiliar faces in the woods at Fort Knox was the ultimate preparation. Like all cadets, Anderson participated in Advance Camp the summer before her senior year. The monthlong Army immersion is a test of how capable cadets are before they commission.
“Coming out of that gave me so much confidence going into senior year, knowing I can go into a new job with uncertainty, knowing I did Advance Camp at Fort Knox,” Anderson said.
Anderson will commission into the Army Reserve as a second lieutenant in May. She’ll work full-time at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, and with her Army Reserve unit in Denver.
“I’m more nervous for my new second lieutenant position,” Anderson said. “[Cadets] have been in ROTC for the last two to four years, and now after commissioning we’re in the real Army as officers in charge of soldiers and their lives. That’ll be more nerve-wracking in all the best ways.”
Anderson said her milestone moment at UA was the day she received her ROTC contract. She joined just before her junior year, considered a “really late” start for a student seeking a contract and scholarship. Then, on the last day of her junior year, just before finals, she learned her contract was approved. The news culminated an intense year of hard work, she said.
“I’d found my place,” Anderson said. “It was a good day for me.”
Anderson would ultimately become first sergeant of Army ROTC’s alpha company, where she would lead up to 50 cadets this semester. Her ROTC traits would help her stand out from other applicants at Lockheed Martin during her interview in January.
“I initially interviewed for a buyer role for the company,” Anderson said. “While I was there, they asked candidates to introduce themselves and give a fun fact; mine was being in ROTC and the Reserves. Then a hiring manager came and talked to me about my major and about ROTC. We talked a lot about other people that worked for him that also served – some retired captains. I ended up with the job as a control planner because we both thought I’d be a good fit there.
“Had I not introduced myself as an ROTC cadet, it would have gone completely different.”
Anderson’s new career will also serve as a homecoming. Her family originally moved from Colorado to Huntsville when Anderson was in high school before moving back to Colorado two years ago.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.