Mid-Week Update

I’m writing this on the plane again.  That seems to be happening a lot lately.  Maybe a new trend?  I should really get better at posting during the week… hopefully I’ll be able to get into a groove/pattern with my travel and make that start happening.

Last weekend was great.  I was able to explore areas of St. Louis that I had really wanted to see.  Friday night I went out with some friends around Laclede’s Landing in downtown St. Louis.  I found some great places and a club and was able to enjoy music and dance – I was really looking for that.  Saturday night I explored the Delmar Loop at night with some friends.  It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, but still nice.  Sunday I played disc golf with a friend at a part nearby, which was a lot of fun.  I definitely have room for improvement though.

I spent the week working in Baton Rouge, LA.  I like the office there and have now met the Louisiana Healthcare Connections staff, with the exception of some consultants and contractors.  I definitely have a lot to learn still but things are beginning to make sense and fit together.  My projects are expanding and I am starting to talk to providers on the phone – although if they ask me questions, I still often don’t know the answers.  That will come though.

This healthcare business is extremely complicated.  There are so many moving parts and I am glad to be able to see what that looks like “on the front line” – i.e. in the field.

It seems though that many providers are missing what many today to be standard pieces of a business – most specifically email.  I have also been told by some that they do not have email at home or work.  My worldview is certainly challenged by this and I need to make sure that I understand context and culture to effectively serve the people with whom I am working.

I’m a bit surprised to say this, but so far I actually like Baton Rouge.  People are just incredibly friendly.  Even people at bus stops say hello as you walk by!  I stood at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capital Center.  I was a big fan, mainly because of the people.  It did have free internet and bottled water, which was nice though.  If I am there for a while, I hope to explore the city somewhat, even though I also kind of like spending time in the hotel.

I still need to convince myself to go to bed earlier.  I wish I wasn’t tired so much.  This week was better, but I need to get better about that.  I also need to start going to the gym.

Tonight, I am going to the baseball game.  I won tickets from Centene!  I am little worried that I will miss picking them up though because my flight is late.  Hopefully it works out!

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My First Business Trip

I’m writing this post while on the plane back to St. Louis to be posted once I get home.  I am wrapping up my first business trip for my new job with Centene Corporation.  It seems that I will be doing a lot of travel in my position so this is the first of many more trips to come.

What all I, specifically, am responsible for still seems to be in flux.  On this trip, I met the guy who is running development of the Louisiana network and shadowed two people who are managers in the trajectory I am on.  Both of them have 15-20 years of experience in healthcare.  We drove around and met with doctors and office managers at clinics and private practices.  We actually had pretty good results.  I like all of the people in Louisiana with whom I will be working.

I still have a lot of details to learn if I am doing what they are doing.  For now, I am focusing more on learning the contracting/negotiating role and serving more of a support function.  Right now that means developing tracking and reporting tools.  I should have a better ability to do that now that I know what it looks like in the field.  I will likely be traveling again next week and working out of the Baton Rouge office.  I was told that it’s easier to ramp up and ramp up faster if I am in the field.  It will be my second week traveling Monday-Thursday and I think that type of travel could be happening weekly.

I did get to explore New Orleans a little bit.  I’m hoping to be back there (I’m sure there is more going on in New Orleans than Baton Rouge).  I walked/ate on Bourbon Street, went by Jackson Square, walked along the Mississippi River, and ate at Red Fish, Pat O’Brien’s, and Café Du Monde.  I did hear some great musicians, but next time, I’d like to check out more live music.

Travel Preferences

I still need to figure out things like which airline and hotel chain I want to focus on.

On this trip, I flew Southwest, which was great, and stayed at the Marriott New Orleans.  The location of the hotel was great, but I wasn’t impressed by my room.

For the future, I’m leaning towards Hilton hotels.  I’m between Southwest, which only flies to New Orleans (I’d have to drive from there), but has a direct flight from St. Louis, Delta and American.  Both Delta and American fly to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other airports in Louisiana, but there are no direct flights and it takes longer to earn free tickets.  I will mostly be renting cars from National.  Centene lets me sign up for the Emerald Club.

Anyone have any recommendations on flights – quality of the airline and best rewards program?

Big Fan of this Picture

The post title says it all.  This was taken in Georgetown, Colorado at the end of July.

First Week On The Job

I recently completed my first week working at Centene Corporation.  It was a good week and I am happy with my job so far.  Working full-time is certainly a change.  I am definitely not used to being somewhere at 8:00 a.m. every morning (if not earlier) and doing the whole work thing all day.  It is going to take some adjusting, but I am enjoying myself after the first week.  Hopefully I will continue to do so.

Week one started with orientation.  I saw the videos and presentations on policies, procedures, standards, etc.  As the week progressed, I got setup with my equipment, sat in on meetings, and began to understand more about what my role as Contract Negotiator is.  I spent a good amount of time on the phone with the Service Desk getting everything set up.  I still am waiting to get setup in some systems (e.g. expense reports), but I am well on the way.

My second day on the job I was listening in on a conference call and sitting in on a meeting.  By the end, some of it was making sense 🙂  I’ve also had my first WebEx meeting in a corporate setting.  I’ve got a company laptop, BlackBerry, and aircard, and should receive my corporate American Express card soon.

As a Contract Negotiator I am building provider networks for managed Medicaid plans.  I have been assigned to help develop the network for Louisiana.  As such, I will be spending much of my time on the road traveling around Louisiana.  I will be functioning as a Network Development Specialist for Louisiana Healthcare Connections – a Centene subsidiary.  It is headquartered in Baton Rouge.

My job has best been described as follows: when you enroll in a health insurance program, you may be given a book of providers (doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc.) that you can visit and which are covered by your insurance.  My role is to get those providers to be in the book.  From what I’ve gathered around the office, there are a lot of pieces to making that happen.  Some are designated by the company and some are designated by the state.  I will be interacting with quite a few corporate departments including legal, credentialing, business development, and more.

The people are great so far.  Most people do seem to be older than me, but that’s okay.  And I’m sure there are more people to meet.  My first business travel begins tomorrow morning.  I’m headed to New Orleans and then around Louisiana.  Hopefully I’ll have an even better idea of where I will plug in when I get back Thursday night.  I’m sure I have a lot to learn. 🙂

Pre-Work Update (with Denver Trip)

I start working full-time on Monday!  What a crazy idea… I’m excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful, scared – just about everything.  I am confident that my job with Centene Corporation is going to be a great next step in this life journey.  I’ve had a few weeks since accepting the job offer from Centene to get back in touch with people and begin the process of re-establishing myself in St. Louis.  It seems like it will be a long process, but I am looking forward to rekindling friendships and building new ones.  Things sure have changed here in the past five years.

I had planned on making a trip to Denver (if I wasn’t going to be working there) before beginning work and it worked out for me to spend about a week in Denver recently.  It was great spending time with friends and seeing the University of Denver again before I begin my professional life.  I was also able to spend time with people who I had hoped to see before leaving Denver but timing with finals and graduation prevented it.  I’m glad that happened.

I had a “mental checklist” for my time in Denver.  Everything I had hoped would happen happened and then some.  It was a great time!  I spent time with my “adopted” Denver family, the Cohen’s.  I went camping off of Guanella Pass with some friends where we also went hiking and met some really great people (including some from England and Ireland).  Camping there was really fun though.  I was at Chabad for Mendel’s 10th birthday.  I went out downtown with friends around LoDo.  Several of us went up to Loveland to visit another friend.  We went swimming and bought a slip ‘n’ slide at Wal-Mart.  We felt grown up (haha), but it was a lot of fun!  I hung out with a friend around Capital Hill.  I went camping with my cousins at Chatfield Reservoir. I spent a day and a half around DU seeing more friends and people I used to work with.

I was able to spend time with some great people during my time in Denver.  I hope that we are all able to stay in touch and continue to be a part of each others’ lives as we all begin this next stage of life.

This weekend will be quite busy as I spend time with old friends and begin the process of making new ones.  After an amazing week in Denver, I am hopeful that this next step in St. Louis will continue my trend of fortunate and blessed experiences.  I am excited for what the future holds.  Thank you to everyone who has, continues to, and will be a part of my life!

Recommendations for Job Seekers and Recruiters

As I mentioned when I wrote about the job offer I accepted, I have some thoughts on the recruiting/hiring process that I want to share.  I certainly am not a licensed expert, but these are recommendations based on multiple articles I’ve read and my personal experiences.

For Job Seekers

  • Make a list.  Keep track of what you applied for, you status for the position(s), and when you applied.  Keep each record up to date.
  • Do your research.  Know about where you are applying.  Be sure you can explain why you are applying there and for the specific position.
  • Send a thank you note.
  • Follow-up.  Maybe follow-up again.  But don’t be pushy and be sure to feel out the customs of the company and the recruiter.  This is especially applicable for smaller companies.
  • Network, network, network.  Meet people.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Use your connections, your friends’ connections, etc.  This is incredibly important.
  • Use LinkedIn.
  • Know your resume.
  • Everyone exaggerates.  Make sure you know your limits.  Don’t lie.

For Recruiters/Hiring Managers

  • Treat people like people.  I know you have choices in who you hire, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind in your communication or your demeanor.
  • Send rejection or position closure emails.  As much as it sucks not to get a job, it sucks even more to be left in the dark.  Most recruitment software allows you to do this with the click of a button.  Please click that button.
  • Let interviewees know a timeline of when they can expect to hear back about next steps/an offer.  Stick to that timeline.  If you can’t, let the person know.
  • Give feedback.  Building a relationship with an unsuccessful candidate now can create a successful candidate later.

Basically, all of this can be summed up as follows: utilize common courtesy.  Keep people in the loop, follow-up – communicate.  It will make the whole process the stressful and more manageable.

This whole process is like a game.  Games are made to be won.  You just have to find the right way to the end of the board.  Everyone is looking for a best mutual fit.  Prove that you are.