By Contributing Writer Kylie Cooper
Five successful women engineers shared their career experiences during the fifth annual Women in Engineering Panel Discussion, presented on November 29 by the Society for Women Engineers.
The event, held in Woodland Commons, began with an hour-long Q&A discussion and was followed by a reception that gave students the chance to network and expand their career opportunities. Moderating the panel discussion was Abigail Keith ‘20, President of the Society for Women Engineers, who posed questions ranging from what inspired the women to become engineers to advice they’d give seniors starting their career search.
“I encourage you to go to job fairs,” said Liudong Xing, PhD, a professor of electrical and computer engineering here at UMassD. “Networking is also important.” Networking was highlighted by the other panelists, as well. For Meghann Noonan ‘13, networking was how she obtained her mechanical engineering job at Hasbro, where she is now a senior project engineer on the Star Wars brand.
“Network as much as you can,” Noonan said. “Make sure you follow up with those connections, too.” Noonan also encouraged students to make their resumes stand out in some way, noting that she spends about “30 seconds max” looking at a resume.
“Tailor your resume for the job posting,” said Allie Goodman, a mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin. Goodman advised including exact keywords mentioned in the job posting, for some companies run resumes through a computer system that searches for certain phrases before passing on the most qualified applications to HR for review.
Taking advantage of internship opportunities was another key takeaway from the panel discussion. “If you can get an internship and you like it there, definitely work with them,” said Caty Duncan ‘15, an electrical engineer at Lockheed Martin. Duncan began as an intern at Lockheed Martin and then accepted the company’s offer to work full-time upon graduating from UMassD’s electrical engineering program.
“I recommend getting an internship if you can,” said Talia D’Ambruoso ‘17, a biomedical engineer at Becton Dickinson. She realized what she actually wanted to pursue because of her first internship experience. Aside from career tips, the discussion empowered women pursuing engineering or STEM fields.
“If we look at the kinds of problems we need to solve in society, they’re very complex,” said Dr. Jean VanderGheynst, Dean of the College of Engineering, on increasing women’s presence in engineering. “More diverse teams are better able to solve challenges than teams that are not diverse.”
“As the majority of engineers are demographically white males, to come out and support events that are promoting diversity is really important,” said Gabriel Lurz ‘20, an engineering major. Lurz was one of many students who attended the event, and was not alone in supporting it.
“I think that [events like these are so important because] they show the students what’s possible for the future,” said Mabel Trager ‘21, a bioengineering major. While the Women in Engineering Panel Discussion was aimed toward engineering students, the takeaways of the event could be of use for students of any major. “You have to think of college as your job,” D’Ambruoso, the most recent graduate out of the panelists, advises all students. “Your end goal is going to be to get a job, so you have to put yourself first.”