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Semiconductors and electronic components: you may not see them, but they’re pert near everywhere, connecting the dots across sectors. And engineers devising them are in demand.
Semiconductor and electronic component companies support practically every industry. Even traditional segments, such as civil engineering with their truckloads of asphalt, are enabled by computers and other electronic components.
The prevalence of semiconductor solutions is clearly one of the considerable appeals of a career in this field since you won’t be pigeonholed: you’ll have ample opportunities to electronically empower people with advanced technology, from doctors to soldiers to teens with smartphones.
Another attractive benefit of this industry is that salaries reflect the importance of the work, with average semiconductor engineering salaries surpassing the $100,000 mark. In fact, EE Times reports that electronic engineers receive the highest compensation for their work - surpassing software engineers - and that those in the semiconductor industry “take home the largest paycheck.”
Here are profiles of five professionals thriving and devising semiconductors and electronic components that connect sectors.
Azurin Rises via Networking at Arrow Electronics
Arrow Electronics empowers a breathtaking array of other companies. “Arrow is not just a distributor of components and computing solutions: We guide innovation forward for over 150,000 of the world’s leading manufacturers of technology used in homes, business and daily life,” according to Dana Azurin, field application engineer for the company.
Arrow’s deep portfolio has Azurin reveling in her work and forever enhancing her skill set.
“I love that I’m not doing the same thing every day. I get to meet with engineers from various industries, and they challenge me to learn new things constantly. Because of this I get to stay abreast of the latest technologies.”
Azurin works with customers to help them design their tech products and maintain them through the product life cycle. One of 18,000 employees, her work has tangible rewards, not only for her, but also for the billions of consumers who use electronics enabled by Arrow.
“I love that I get to help our customers bring their products to life,” she says. “Using my engineering background, I’m able to help make products more secure, more stable and easier to maintain.”
Azurin also appreciates Arrow’s foresight: “I love that Arrow is always looking ahead and paying attention to how technology is changing so that we can best advise our customers.”
Networking helped Azurin reach this good place in her career.
“My first year of college was really overwhelming. I was taking too many hours and had to work on top of that. But I formed a great study group, and we really helped each other study and prepare for tests. I also joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where I made great friends with upperclassmen who guided me through the years,” she relates.
Azurin urges you to continue to network through your career.
“The technology field is vast, but the community is small. Establish yourself as a trustworthy person, and maintain the relationships you have. You’ll be amazed at where that will take you.”
And protect each relationship, Azurin further advises. “Never burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how small the world is after you start your career, so being able to work well with people and being reliable becomes even more important.”
Headquartered in Centennial, CO, Arrow has more information on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+. Explore careers at arrow.com/en/careers.
IBM’s Mackin Found That One Door Opens Others
Charles Mackin is a research staff member at IBM, as well as a Ph.D. candidate at MIT, who focuses on analog memory hardware accelerators for deep learning. But he traces his positions to an award won long ago.
“I received the Flinn Foundation Scholarship, an award given to 20 of Arizona’s top students each year. It provides in-state tuition, mentorship and a number of other benefits,” details Mackin.
That scholarship led to other opportunities and achievements. “I still see that event as a major catalyst for me graduating with a 4.0 GPA in electrical engineering in undergrad, and conducting research over the summers at Georgia Tech, Cornell [and] Stanford, and studying abroad in Hong Kong.”
All of that opened more doors for Mackin. “This, in turn, helped me get accepted to MIT and earn my Ph.D., which led to my current (and amazing) research position at IBM in Silicon Valley. It’s been a butterfly effect of sorts, and it’s interesting to note that one of the major catalysts actually occurred in high school.”
Having studied and worked at so many different entities, Mackin knows how to move from situation to situation.
“It’s very important to manage transitions, such as the transitions from high school to college, undergraduate studies to graduate school, and academia to industry. Each presents a new environment, expectations and culture. Navigating these new environments can be challenging at first, and perhaps even stressful,” he relates.
So Mackin suggests dipping one’s toe into the new pool before making the leap.
“Get exposure to them beforehand. If you’re in high school, then try to take a course at a local college or participate in a summer program at a university. If you’re an undergraduate student considering graduate school, then get exposure to research by joining a research group on campus or by participating in a summer research program at another university.”
And intern! “If you’re planning to transition to industry, then try to intern at several companies to get a feel for what the transition from academia to industry will be like. Periods of transition can be some of the most challenging, but they also represent some of the best learning opportunities, and opportunities for personal and professional development.”
Mackin also suggests sustaining professional development with personal development. “STEM can be very demanding, so it’s important to maintain strong and healthy relationships with family and friends, and to develop hobbies that you can be passionate about outside of work. This is important for your quality of life, and tends to help you be more productive and creative at work, too!”
Wherever he’s been and whatever he’s achieved, Mackin was girded by grit.
“I think of my trajectory as a longer sequence of hard work and preparation in which I was fortunate enough to have certain people come along and open doors at opportune moments. A wise person once told me that success is the confluence of luck and preparation,” he shares.
And Mackin loves where he is today, one of 360,000-strong at IBM. “I love going to work every day with truly brilliant colleagues. As part of a highly collaborative environment, I continually have the opportunity to learn and become the best at what we do.”
If you, too, want to work at IBM, then Mackin offers some final advice.
“It’s important to visit, interview and engage with as many different companies as possible. If your university has career fairs, then attend as many as possible.”
And do your career homework before approaching a company.
“Employers are looking to find the best match for their company. This should be a two-way street. It’s important for you to find the best match for yourself, as well. When this process is done well, it works out best for both parties,” Mackin concludes.
Learn more about IBM, which is headquartered in Armonk, NY, via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. See what jobs are available at careers.ibm.com.
Adigante Enjoys the Diversity of Her Work at Skyworks
If you work for Skyworks like Sinchana Adigante, who’s a senior demand analyst, then you have a hand in just about everything that incorporates wireless connectivity. Skyworks’ semiconductors are utilized in aerospace, automotive, broadband, cellular infrastructure, connected home, industrial, medical, military, smartphone, tablet and wearable applications. And its product portfolio is as broad as the markets it serves, ranging from discrete devices to fully integrated, front-end solutions.
Skyworks has also won myriad awards such as America’s Top Public Companies from Forbes, Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies and Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces.
Adigante, one of 9,400-plus employees, provides in-depth analysis and high-quality reporting to ensure proper execution that’s in line with the strategic objectives of the business unit. However, ask her about her work, and you’ll understand why Skyworks is broadly acknowledged as a top place to work.
“I’m always encouraged and allowed to take initiatives to accomplish new projects. This role involves interacting with subject-matter experts to understand the problems,” she says.
Interacting with subject-matter experts might mean your voice is minimized, but not at Skyworks, which extracts innovation from collaboration. “My opinions matter, as do everyone else’s - which encourages innovative ideas,” according to Adigante.
Empowerment means happiness at work, day after day. “Since joining Skyworks, there has not been a single day that I have gone home unfulfilled,” she points out.
A large part of Adigante’s daily satisfaction is due to the diversity of the work. “No two days are the same. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities in terms of tasks, meeting people and learning something new,” she elaborates.
One of the new things Adigante has learned in her career is analytics, which is her current focus. “My interest in analytics stems from the data analytics and visualization classes I took during my master’s program,” she notes.
Skyworks is the perfect place to delve into analytics, according to Adigante. “Skyworks has a diversified portfolio that drives the business. This role involves working with multiple teams such as the business unit product line, program management, demand management, and sales and marketing to understand key metrics, as well as customer order trends, forecasts, sales quotes, backlog and product life cycle management.”
Via analytics, Adigante’s contributions are considerable. “This provides me with an opportunity to identify and develop technical solutions to improve business operations.”
To reach this place in her career, Adigante needed to adapt to the unfamiliar while acquiring her master’s degree.
“The most difficult part was when I came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree. Initial days were a little challenging as I was away from home,” she recalls. “However, once school began, I enjoyed my classes, and projects kept me busy. I was always keen on learning new technology and tools, which helped in obtaining an internship and full-time job after my graduation.”
If you’re still in school or looking for work, then Adigante has some advice for you: “In my opinion, in order to excel in this field, one should be able to analyze problems, think critically and create visual models. Students should have good knowledge and hands-on experience with the latest business analytics tools.”
Headquartered in Woburn, MA, Skyworks has more information on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor and YouTube. Apply for jobs at skyworksinc.com/careers.
Tadesse Loves to Represent Qualcomm
Ruth Tadesse, senior engineer at Qualcomm, is a software engineer in a machine-learning research project that’s part of the tools team. “I build internal tools, develop Android demos apps and do integration testing, as well as support other project members,” she details.
Supporting other project members isn’t just key to Qualcomm’s success. It’s also a pleasure, given the quality of those 33,800 Qualcomm colleagues.
“I am surrounded by a lot of incredibly smart and, at the same time, humble people,” states Tadesse.
They’re also generous. “They’re willing to take time to help out,” she adds.
When so many smart people have your back, you’ll find your skill set being perpetually upgraded. “I have so far learned a tremendous amount while working in my project,” she shares.
Leadership at Qualcomm also has your back, according to Tadesse. “In our department we have a team lead where the top focus is project goals and a separate manager, often outside your project, to discuss project goals, but, more importantly, personal goals and areas for growth.”
The second manager is tasked with advancing your career. “This cultivates a process that enables individuals to advance in career goals that interests them and better suits their talents, since the manager’s role is geared toward the success of their managee.”
Tadesse also loves her work. “As part of my role, I love developing the project demos for conferences and showcases.”
Preparing demos connects her to diverse colleagues, too. “It’s been an avenue to work with different team members across the whole project,” she notes.
It also boosts her programming. “It helps me develop stronger software skills, as it requires to work with multiple programming languages, image processing, some knowledge in ML, as well as a bit of Android UI.”
And Tadesse loves being the proud face of Qualcomm: “It’s always a great feeling to represent your company at these big conferences and know your effort is part of what’s displayed.”
If you, too, want to play a proud part in this sector or at Qualcomm, then Tadesse has some advice: “Get experience in programming outside of course work, preferably an internship!”
And if you can’t land that internship? “If you find yourself in a situation where your resume just doesn’t have enough experience, as many internships are requiring (I know the struggle, been there), then go talk to professors to work in their research labs just for the purposes of gaining that work experience.”
That’s not your only experience-gathering option either.
“Go on GitHub and choose a project to contribute to or take courses online, anything that will show employers you’re truly interested in working in the field beyond your required classes,” Tadesse adds.
Qualcomm is headquartered in San Diego, CA. Learn more via Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Peruse careers at qualcomm.com/company/careers.
Oracle’s Bezuayehu Leverages Soft Skills Atop a STEM Foundation
Lulit Bezuayehu, global user experience research lead at Oracle, watches with transformative intent. “My job is to observe people using an application, and figure out how to make it better and easier to use,” she elaborates.
One of 138,000 employees, Bezuayehu embodies the adage, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
As she explains: “As a senior in college, I was struggling, juggling my engineering internship and taking three senior-level math classes.”
So, at first, Bezuayehu sought some guidance. “I went to have a meeting with my advisor to have him help me figure out how to stay on course and graduate. He actually told me to consider changing my major to ‘something easier.’”
Bezuayehu was disheartened. “At first I was very discouraged, but then felt determined to prove to him wrong. I went on finish my math degree that year, and continued on to get a second degree in electrical engineering two years later.”
And the payoff? “I love my job! I’m excited every day to learn and understand how people interact with our enterprise applications. Whether the user is in Hong Kong or Warsaw, Poland, I want to understand how they use our applications in context of their work, industry and region. That means I get to travel the world, wherever our customers are,” Bezuayehu answers.
Bezuayehu didn’t just develop a sturdy STEM foundation that she uses today. She also built people skills atop it. “As a high school student, I joined an organization called INROADS. I believe it was instrumental in giving me the soft skills needed to have a successful career.”
INROADS let Bezuayehu see what was in her future. “They helped us create short- and long-term goals, taught us both verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and ran us through mock interviews to prepare us to be placed in various large organizations as engineering and business interns, depending on our majors. INROADS was instrumental in shaping the person that I became, and helped prepare me for corporate world.”
Oracle does the same for many high school students, teaching them both STEM and people skills.
“Oracle has built a high school right on our headquarter campus in Redwood Shores, CA. Design Tech High School opened its new facility earlier this year. The school helps students innovate, and also helps them develop the skill set that’s critical to success in the 21st century, skills like collaboration, creativity, self-management and communication,” she points out.
And once you’re hired, Bezuayehu urges fellow engineers to use their people skills.
“Make connections and grow your internal network. Job opportunities and assignments often come through word-of-mouth, and you might never hear of these opportunities if you aren’t connected to those in the know.”
In addition, tap the sagacity of those senior to you. “Find mentors and sponsors or allies in higher positions who can guide you and give you advice. You also need these sponsors to advocate for you, even when you aren’t in the room when decisions are being made,” recommends Bezuayehu.
Lastly, seize opportunities to prove your mettle, she advises. “Don’t be afraid to raise your hand for an opportunity, even if you feel you don’t have 100% of the skills required. There’s always room to learn and grow.”
Oracle is headquartered in Redwood Shores, CA. Learn more via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Explore careers at oracle.com/corporate/careers.
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