How One Company Builds Strong Technical Teams Made Up of All Majors, From Humanities to Engineering

Learn about McMaster-Carr's innovative approach to creating high-performing technical teams.

For many college students, a career in technology seems unattainable without a four-year degree in Computer Science or extensive internship experience. Students with a knack for problem-solving and a passion for learning, however, will find a unique opportunity to grow their career in tech at McMaster-Carr, a business-to-business e-commerce company. Their innovative approach to creating high-performing, technical teams involves seeking out problem solvers from many academic backgrounds and providing immersive training and a culture of development.

To learn more about McMaster-Carr’s approach to building their technical teams and this exciting career opportunity for new grads, we spoke with four current employees. Each joined McMaster-Carr through the Development and Design track, a training program that teaches the fundamentals of programming and system design. With academic backgrounds ranging from Philosophy to Computer Science to International & Human Rights, these employees shared how McMaster-Carr’s unique approach to hiring has brought them a rewarding and challenging career in tech.

McMaster-Carr is intentional about building teams that leverage different backgrounds and experiences.

Good design relies on thinking about problems from different perspectives. Students develop viewpoints and capabilities that are unique to the subjects they explore in school. That’s why McMaster-Carr is intentional about including people with different majors. While teammates’ knowledge and experiences vary, they share a passion for learning and problem-solving that help them achieve ambitious goals together. 

This approach to building teams is what brought Janine, who has a degree in International and Human Rights, into the Systems department. Janine originally applied for a business role, but the recruiting team was intrigued by her nonprofit work teaching programming languages.

“It never occurred to me I would be qualified enough to try for a role in software engineering,” said Janine. “The McMaster-Carr team told me that they look for people with the ability to learn.”

Eric, an employee in Systems who majored in Computer Science and Economics, appreciates how the diverse backgrounds of his colleagues directly impacts how teams work together and what they can accomplish.

“It brings a different perspective to the work,” Eric said. “It’s really interesting talking to people who have a business background or Psych or the arts, as they think differently about how the company operates.”

Building strong teams that include different perspectives and skills isn’t only the result of McMaster-Carr’s targeted approach to hiring – it’s supported by the company’s investment in training employees through the Development and Design track.

A robust training program sets people up for career-long success, whether it’s a first foray into coding or exploration of different tech stacks.

MaCheaux, a Philosophy, Astronomy & Astrophysics major, heard about the Development and Design program when a friend recommended it to her. MaCheaux never pictured herself becoming a software engineer because she felt she lacked the experience. McMaster-Carr’s training program intrigued her.

“I had some CS experience in college, but I did not feel grounded in my ability to code. When I heard software engineer as a title, I never imagined it could be something I could pursue after graduation,” MaCheaux said. “Because McMaster-Carr gives you the support, knowledge and space to ask questions, I felt comfortable pursuing that role.”

For Taylor, a McMaster-Carr employee who majored in Mechanical Engineering and minored in Computer Science while in school, the training program allowed her to deepen her computer science skills and apply them to a real career.

“In my junior year of college, I became increasingly interested in Computer Science. But since I wanted to graduate in four years, I only had time to minor in CS,” said Taylor, who now manages a team of engineers. “The fact that McMaster-Carr offered the tech training program where I could continue to learn to code and learn to design systems was a big selling point.”

The training period offers new graduates the unique opportunity to hone their foundational skills and receive tailored training to help them succeed in McMaster-Carr’s technical ecosystem. This dedicated support and culture of learning is intended to develop lifelong learners.

McMaster-Carr cultivates a culture where employees continuously expand their skill sets and work with new technologies.

McMaster-Carr employees come from different academic backgrounds, but all value the supportive culture of growth that exists at McMaster-Carr, especially in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

“We really emphasize working in different stacks. I have worked in application security, publishing systems, the public website, and in a handful of languages,” said Janine. “Something that sets McMaster-Carr apart from other tech jobs is that McMaster-Carr wants you to be flexible and learn a lot of different things. So this is a great opportunity for people who want to always learn something new and don’t want to get too comfortable in their knowledge.”

There are an abundance of learning opportunities in the work, as new projects demand new expertise. McMaster-Carr has invested in building teams of curious people that are excited to expand their knowledge base because, “Every project we work on is an opportunity to learn,” according to MaCheaux.

The culture of learning goes beyond workplace projects. Employees have the opportunity to join professional development groups called ‘Guilds,’ where they can connect with mentors, discuss books on cutting-edge technologies, build new projects, and share learnings on tech topics like databases or infrastructure.

People in Systems also carve out the career path that’s right for them while developing as tech generalists. Taylor, for example, was promoted to the role of Project Manager after she became interested in management during her three years as a software engineer.

“The familiarity I had with the team and technology from my time as a software engineer was a huge advantage and I felt confident I could succeed,” said Taylor. “Now, my day is less focused on coding and more about designing systems, supporting engineers, communicating processes, and keeping stakeholders across the department and company informed on progress.”

Amidst their targeted approach to finding great candidates, the training program, and their overall culture of learning and advancement, McMaster-Carr has developed a unique framework for building high-performing teams where anyone – regardless of academic background – can succeed and build a lasting career if they have a passion for learning and a curiosity for how things work.

Learn more about McMaster-Carr here.


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