Join us in celebrating Kayla Woitkowski, Director of Global Early Career Talent Acquisition at SAS, as this month’s Handshake Honor Roll 2022 winner. 🎉
Kayla has spent more than a decade working with future leaders to help them start their careers. Keep reading to learn more about Kayla's journey and why she's so passionate about working with early talent and shaping their future.
What was your first job outside of college and how’d you find it?
I had a co-op position in college where I spent time at BMW Manufacturing supporting the university recruiter with planning for interview days, and through this experience discovered it was the career for me. This prompted me to target university recruiting roles as I approached graduation. My first job outside of college was a University Recruiting Specialist position at NetApp. I started this job before officially graduating and found the opportunity through a “university recruiting jobs” Google search. In this role, I supported the sending of offer letters (yes, paper letters in FedEx envelopes!), registering for career fairs, posting jobs to university job boards (thank goodness for Handshake now!) interview scheduling, shipping swag to events, and really any other administrative need of the University Recruiting team. Key takeaway: internships/co-ops are a great way to uncover your passions!
Why are you passionate about recruiting early talent or increasing DEI?
I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of being in the early talent space now for over a decade. The opportunity to align passionate students with their very first career opportunity is so meaningful. The purpose behind our work and ability to truly change a student’s life for the better, forever—inspires me every day. This is especially true for those who may have grown up thinking that working for a Fortune 500 organization wasn’t in the cards for them. I’ve experienced countless students who worked hard and were brought to tears when they received their “dream job.” Nothing beats that!
How did you land in your current role? What’s your favorite part of the job?
I joined SAS in 2014 as their Intern Program Manager. A year later, I was able to establish our first ever university recruiting function and built the team from the ground up. Now, over half a decade later, I have a remarkable opportunity to scale our best practices across the globe. My favorite part of the job is absolutely the brilliant, caring people I get to work with every day. We have fun, care deeply about one another, and make a significant impact on the students we support and our business.
What are some accomplishments you’re particularly proud of this year?
This year, I’m particularly proud of how our newly established US team came together to recruit over 175 incredibly qualified and diverse students for our first ever hybrid internship program. We launched our first ever “Internpalooza” which was a high-energy and informative onboarding experience at SAS HQ. Preliminary survey results show that the experience we provided our students was superb, so far we have a Net Promoter Score of 79 which is considered excellent.
Who are the people you turn to for inspiration?
My older brother has always been one of my greatest inspirations. He also works in HR and has a very different frame of mind than I do. He’s very, very analytical—in fact, he oversees an HR analytics team. He inspires me to continue to improve my thinking and also pushes me to be the best version of myself outside of work, too.
What advice would you offer to today’s jobseekers? Particularly new graduates entering the workforce for the first time.
I’ll quote a member of my team: “it’s ok to not have it all figured out.” I recognize that students graduating now have been through more than most given their experiences throughout the pandemic. It’s ok to not have a 3- or 5-year plan. It’s ok to not know where you’ll be tomorrow. Surround yourself with people who know you and challenge you to be the best version of yourself, and be open minded. The rest will work itself out.