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Networking Your Future
Networking and telecom companies offer a wide array of career opportunities for engineers.
With the growth in smartphone usage, demand for mobile technology, the explosion of wearables and IoT, and more, the telecom sector “continues to be a critical force for growth, innovation and disruption across multiple technology industries,” says a recent outlook report from Deloitte.
And that means job opportunities.
Here, four engineers share their work, demonstrating the wide array of careers available in the telecommunications and networking field.
Lakhansingh’s Work Keeps Cricket Wireless Competitive
The goal of André Lakhansingh’s work is to keep his company’s customers smiling.
Lakhansingh is a principal product development engineer with Atlanta, GA-based Cricket Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T. He’s responsible for the successful delivery of the Cricket’s network-related services.
“I help develop new services that support the company’s evolution and increased competitiveness, along with initiatives needed to ensure that we continue to offer a nationwide network with more 4G LTE coverage than our competitors,” he explains.
For instance, the company has seen a significant increase in the amount of data that Cricket subscribers use over the last year due to the growth of mobile video consumption. In turn, Lakhansingh is working on projects to help ensure Cricket’s network can accommodate the continuing growth in data usage.
“Just like increasing the size of a highway to support increased traffic, we have to be mindful to increased data consumption,” he says.
He initially became interested in wireless technologies after working in management consulting with a focus on programming, databases and Unix-based operating systems right out of college. As he realized the emergence of mobile technology and how consumers were harnessing its capabilities, he pursued positions at AT&T and Cricket where he grew his knowledge and skills in technical architecture, network engineering and now product realization.
Lakhansingh was attracted to Cricket’s predecessor, Aio Wireless, in January 2013 as it was in the early stages of unveiling a national prepaid brand.
“I liked the excitement and innovation involved in the start of something brand-new and potentially revolutionary in the wireless space,” he says. “Since then I’ve enjoyed seeing Aio merge with Cricket to launch the new Cricket in 2014. Since then it’s been exciting in terms of my career and growth of the brand.”
With something of start-up mentality, Lakhansingh says the company’s culture - along with the high-caliber people it employs - makes Cricket a great place to work.
“It’s a culture of collaboration and the constant exchange of ideas among a staff of hardworking, driven and very talented people,” he says.
To find yourself among Cricket’s “very talented people,” Lakhansingh recommends dedication to education.
“I think those looking for growth in our industry should participate in open source development projects and take low-cost, online classes to help further their skill set,” he says. “Continuing to learn and grow your knowledge in the field is key to success to any career. Fortunately, we now live in a world where training opportunities extend beyond a classroom.”
While continuing education and on-going skill development is a must in this fast-moving field, he advises those seeking a career in the space to “never oversell yourself.”
Check cricketwireless.com/why-cricket/careers.html for Cricket Wireless careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Foursquare.
Paxton Connects Businesses at Avaya
Karletha Paxton works to ensure that businesses can connect with their customers.
Paxton is a sales-side systems engineer with Santa Clara, CA-based Avaya, Inc. focused on strategic accounts that have corporate headquarters in the western U.S. In this role she coordinates all technical sales activities for assigned accounts, leads discovery activities to understand customer and partner business requirements, and translates them into technical requirements.
“I design complex unified communications and contact center projects, leveraging the Avaya portfolio and industry technologies,” says Paxton, who’s been with the company for 17 years. “I provide our customers with thoughtful, solution-focused designs that ensure the outcome sought after in their enterprise environment.”
Right now, for instance, she’s working to update a company’s call center. With more than 100,000 contact center agents, Paxton is helping the company move from legacy equipment to a virtualized environment and consolidating the data centers.
“My team is tasked with helping them get through that transition. My job is to work with the customer, its systems and its environment, from the phone at an agent’s desk to equipment in the data center to connectivity,” she explains.
Paxton says she always had a knack for computers and engineering; she also enjoyed working with people and helping them achieve success. Fortunately, she says, “I was able to harness both those skills together and achieve success as a systems engineer.”
She appreciates that her job is both challenging and diverse, allowing her to collaborate with project managers, professional services, salespeople and developers to better manage and deliver high-quality, complex software solutions.
“On any given day I may be engaged in problem description, identifying success factors, solution analysis, implementation schedule, management approval, supporting documentation, project management, system implementation, client interaction, customer support and training, or traveling to customer sites to meet with executives and management teams to articulate the design from concept to contract,” she elaborates.
That depth of work, however, brings the challenge of needing to have technical knowledge across multiple Avaya products and solutions while at the same time developing in-depth expertise in a specific area or solution specialization.
For that challenge, she receives some assistance from her coworkers.
“The best thing about Avaya is the people I work with are dedicated and accountable,” notes Paxton. “Avaya is a very family-oriented company and a great place to work because the people, technology and evolving growth resonate with me. My team at Avaya is focused on achieving success, and I enjoy being a part of the culture.”
She also appreciates the flexibility that Avaya affords its employees.
One piece of advice that Paxton offers young engineers, particularly young female engineers, is that you need to be your own PR machine.
“People will judge you based on what they see, so you have to manage yourself. Be prepared, be on time and dress for success. Show stability and always present yourself in your best light. Everything counts,” she says.
In addition, to work in the field, Paxton emphasizes that one should ensure that he or she acquires the necessary certifications: “It’s important to have the credentials if one is going to be respected and afforded opportunities.”
Access careers.avaya.com for Avaya jobs. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
Solis & Her Team Serve Frontier Customers Well
Leticia Solis and her team help keep SoCal connected.
Solis is Frontier Communications’ director of field operations for the Beach Cities area in southwestern Los Angeles (CA) County.
Her team of 150 field operations staff handles the telecommunications needs of residential and small business customers from Santa Monica down the coast to Laguna Beach, including installing and maintaining the voice, data services and TV services that Frontier offers.
“Together, my team ensures we can deliver the best customer service possible, whether it's ensuring that we’re meeting the demands of our customers for timely new installations or quickly responding when they need our help to get our customers back in service,” she says. At present, she’s part of a project expanding data speeds in one of her service areas.
Long interested in telecommunications and with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UCLA, Solis first joined the industry with GTE in 1996. Through industry changes, mergers and acquisitions, she’s now part of Frontier Communications, which is headquartered in Norwalk, CT.
“Frontier really encourages us to have a presence in our community. To me that’s challenging and important because being engaged is how you continue to increase your credibility as a company. We have a lot to offer and we need to have a strong presence in our communities,” Solis points out.
“Even though we’re large company, we still have that hometown feel. I think that's especially important in metro Los Angeles, the area my team services.”
Throughout Solis’ career, she’s always heard one key piece of advice from fellow engineers: always learn as much as you can and be a sponge.
“No matter what position or what level a person attains, they can always learn something….Continual learning is how you continue to sharpen your skills and how you continue to leverage your skills.”
She adds that there are two major characteristics needed for engineers to succeed today, regardless of the discipline in which they work. The first is the ability to communicate effectively with a broad, non-technical audience.
“It's important to be able to explain things in layman’s terms so customers can better understand,” elaborates Solis. “Even though I mostly work with technical people, now I'm interfacing more with customers who may not be as technically savvy. Customers may not be tech-savvy, but they just know they want their services to work to get whatever they need done.”
The second characteristic: collaboration.
“People may think ‘I just need to be in my cubicle and work behind my computer,’ but that approach doesn't work anymore. Not in this environment. Today, you have to be very collaborative. You have to be able to share your ideas and share in a way that people can understand,” she stresses.
Once in the field, she especially encourages women and minority engineers to give back.
“One of the important things I’ve found throughout my career and in my studies is that it’s so very important to give back…it’s always important to look around and make sure you’re always pulling someone along as you continue to move through your career. To be constantly making sure that you’re giving back to the community,” emphasizes Solis.
“This advice is valid for women and people of color. There are a very few of us even now, and I've been in telecommunications for 20 years and in the technical field for 25….It’s important to go into disadvantaged communities because young people don't have a lot of role models that look like them to say, ‘Yes, you can do this, too.’”
Follow frontier.com/corporate/careers/overview for Frontier Communications career paths. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.
Mitchell Delivers for Juniper Networks
Michele Mitchell works as an engineering program manager at Juniper Networks, responsible for the coordination and delivery of releases for Juniper’s Junos OS, the operating system that powers Juniper’s broad portfolio of physical, virtual and security products.
“The coordination requires developing schedules and actively managing the content of software releases from the initial requirements phase through development, testing and to deployment,” shares Mitchell.
Her role also requires actively collaborating with engineering managers, product line managers and project leads across various product teams and business groups, identifying risks, managing mitigations and delivering status reports.
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Juniper Networks supports the world’s top 10 telecom companies, 10 of the top 12 global technology companies and more than 1,400 national government organizations around the world.
With the company since June 2007, she was drawn to the field and the company due to the satisfaction of knowing she could make a difference. “At the time,” she says, “Juniper was building a release management team. I was the first release manager hired….The best thing about Juniper is that I work with the best and most experienced release managers. My department is exceptional.”
One of the things Mitchell appreciates most about her job is the flexible work schedule and the balance it allows: “Balance between work and home, work schedule flexibility, employee benefits and a very competitive salary make Juniper a great place to work.”
The ability to expand professionally is another attraction. “I enjoy…the opportunities I have to learn and improve skills outside of project management. For example, I have the opportunity to learn how to use tools for data analysis, a subject that I am very interested in,” she points out.
What’s needed to succeed in the field is a question Mitchell has been asked many times by interns and new employees. And the response is always the same: To succeed as a program manager, strong project management skills, knowledge of software development lifecycle concepts, leadership, listening and analysis skills, and excellent written and verbal communications skills are a must.
But “last, and I believe most important,” she adds, “a program manager in my field must be able to bring order to ‘chaos.’”
Mitchell further offers some advice she’s personally heeded and that has paid off for her: “Choose a career or job that makes you happy. Always consider opportunities that will challenge and stretch your abilities and skills.”
Just go to juniper.net/us/en/company/careers for Juniper job opportunities. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Glassdoor.
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