On June 9th, 2015, I hit a milestone as officially one year had passed since my first day of working full time in the real world. I’ve learned a monumental amount of things since then, but looking back on the past year not everything went quite how I expected it to. The first and arguably biggest transition I had to make was my sleep schedule. I quickly realized that it was impossible me to make the 5 hour shift of getting up at 11 am on average to getting up at 6 am every morning during the week, which is why I learned to become a coffee person. Another disappointing realization of having to get up that early was also having to go to bed much earlier, meaning that I couldn’t stay up to watch most sports games that started later than 8:00 PM unless I wanted to be extra tired the next day. Apart from these two things, I actually enjoy the work schedule better than the college schedule. I am very much a routine oriented person, so it was very easy for me to get into the routine of 9-5 each day during the week and then having the weekends off.
I enjoy having an important job and being treated as a professional each day, and it is refreshing to be respected as a member of the corporate world rather than being looked down upon as a college kid who just wants to party. I very much love the freedom and indepedence that comes with working in a corporate environment. No one is checking to make sure you worked exactly 8 hours or looking to see if you took a long lunch break. There is a clear understanding that you have responsibilities that need to get done, and no one is going to tell you what you need to do all the time. It’s your responsibility to ask questions or seek help, and to figure out how you can be best that you can within your position. There are annual evaluations, but you’re not taking tests and getting graded like in college. The challenging part is that work is much harder than what you learn in college. There is a big learning curve, especially in the first year, and it takes a lot of patience to be able to succeed. I expected this coming in, but was anticipating more of a linear curve of consistent improvement. For me, it felt more like I sucked during the first 3-4 months and then all of a sudden things just start clicking around 5-6 months and you make a dramatic improvement.
As for Blue Cross Blue Shield in particular, I think I am very fortunate to be able to work at this company. I realize that the health insurance industry is always looked on as a scapegoat for the recent struggles with health costs, but I really do get the impression that leadership at this company is doing the best they can to improve the situation. I’m sure they are not perfect, but examples like the Alternative Quality Contract which incents providers based on quality rather than quantity have been proven to slow down costs and that is a concept unique to this company. BCBSMA is not afraid to address its weaknesses either. CEO Andrew Dreyfus has said on more than one occasion that we need to adopt more of a retail model when it comes to helping our members. He realizes that the company is still sending out a ridiculous amount of paper statements as opposed to digital, and how confusing those statements can be, and has launched initiatives to try to fix that. This isn’t a criticism of the people who work in those areas, but rather a representation that the health care industry as a whole is way behind when it comes to some important areas of the business. It has been fascinating to see how a health insurance company operates from an internal perspective, and also how hard it is to fix a system that is complicated beyond belief.
From an employee’s perspective, I think BCBSMA is great company for people to work for. One example of this was our recent move from Landmark Center in the Fenway area to 101 Huntington in the Prudential Center. This was a huge upgrade for everyone who worked there and, in addition to some long term cost savings, was exectured primarily to give employees a better working environment. The cafeteria has many more options and emphasizes health eating. The cube walls are lower to encourage more interaction among coworkers. There is natural light and windows everywhere to create a positive environment. On top of all of that, employees have access to over 50 discounts for stores in the prudential center in addition to $275 per month of transportation reimbursement, which is even more convenient in a location that is easily accessible by public transportation. Work life balance is an important part to everyone as well, which I witnessed when the company gave us an extra 2 days off around the holidays in December and frequently lets us out early the day before a holiday or holiday weekend.
Finally, I think I work in the best department in the company, Actuarial and Analytic Services. During my first year, I have had the opportunity to gain exposure to several different areas of the comapny, which has made me appreciate my department even more. Nearly everyone is in their 20s or 30s, and is always very nice and very helpful at all times. It is such a hardworking yet positive atmosphere and has really impressed me since I’ve been there. We often have several social events during each month and the department is very supportive by organizing wedding showers or baby showers during work to celebrate major life accomplishments for its employees. Even when I was an intern, everyone was very nice and very helpful to me and I felt like I was treated just like a full time employee. People in other departments were amazed when I described some of the things that the actuarial department does for fun. Having a group made of young, motivated, hard-working people definitely creates a positive atmosphere both inside and outside of work.
Overall, it has been a very challenging but very rewarding experience during my first year working in the real world at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. I look forward to gaining more experience and being even better during my second year and for years to come.