An honorable mention All-American and a three-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion in the breaststroke events at Albion College, Tyler Kimbrell, '20, is used to being independent.
The skills he has developed throughout his swimming career – setting goals and then moving the bar higher and the importance of paying attention to detail – translated this summer as he worked as a manufacturing cost accountant intern at the Midland, Mich., headquarters of the Dow Chemical Company.
Kimbrell was put in charge of the financials for one of the company's manufacturing plants where he had to communicate with workers at the site to ensure the figures were reflected accurately.
"I was intimidated when I started because instead of receiving project work throughout the summer, I was tasked with a job that impacted day to day operations and had a lot of moving parts that could impact other parts of the business.," Kimbrell said. "This was great though because there is a good chance this is exactly what my job will be like when I return.
"It has been a big transition," he added. "I'm not turning away from swimming, but I'm taking on more responsibility for the next step in my life."
And, like many transitions, it presented challenges. Kimbrell was honest in reflecting that it was near the midpoint of the internship when a period of self evaluation revealed the importance of becoming an independent person on the job.
"Swimming has set me up with soft skills that were easy to carry over to this new territory. I can be critical of myself," Kimbrell said. "I learned how to solve problems by myself before going to someone else."
That's not to say Kimbrell lived in a vacuum devoid of outside interaction. In addition to making the internship valuable by giving college students like Kimbrell an authentic experience of running an account, Dow Chemical has created a culture where executives take time to share the steps they took to start a career.
A member of Albion's Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, Kimbrell credited the Dow executives for the bravery to be vulnerable enough to discuss the steps they took to advance in the company, and he put the networking skills he has gained to work.
"There were three breakfasts during the first six weeks of the internship with executives or people from different parts of the organization and there was a networking event at a Great Lakes Loons baseball game," Kimbrell said. "Dow wants you to go out and meet people in order to jump start and build networks."
With a goal of achieving All-America status in the pool as a senior, Kimbrell noted coming into the academic year with a job offer would give him peace of mind as he concentrates on March and his program for the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships.
"With the job offer I can relax, go into the season and know it is going to be OK at the end," Kimbrell said. "(For my senior season) I'm more focused on nationals and finishing strong in March."
For the latest information on the team, follow @AlbionSwimming on Twitter and albion_acsd on Instagram. General athletic news can also be found at gobrits on Twitter, AlbionAthletics on Instagram and Albion College Athletics on Facebook.
Joe and Julie Serra have given a $5 million leadership gift to launch a fundraising initiative to make two dreams a reality. The first is a newly expanded fitness and student activity facility at the site of the current Dow Recreation and Wellness Center. The second is a new or renovated competition facility for the volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball teams that currently call Kresge Gymnasium home.
The College is continuing to raise funds in support of both projects. To learn more, call 517/629-0446 or email email@example.com.