Debarati Ray received her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle in May 2011. As a student on a F-1 visa, Debarati knew she would face many challenges in her job search, and she was successful at landing a position as a Systems Engineer in Flight Management Systems, Commercial Systems with Rockwell Collins. Debarati shares her experience and advice.
As an international student, you knew the challenges to finding employment in the US. What did you do to overcome those challenges?
Finding a job is a stressful process for all students. For international students, the lack of opportunity can sometimes be disheartening and discouraging. My most important advice for international students is to remember the reason and purpose for traveling so far away from home. My reason for coming to ERAU was to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a successful Aerospace Engineer, and I worked very hard to accomplish that. If you work hard to shape yourself into an exceptional student in your field of study, it is hard for companies to turn you down. I got involved and took up leadership positions in a lot of organizations like Sigma Gamma Tau, Omicron Delta Kappa, Order of Omega, Up ‘Til Dawn, Mentor in ERAU’s First Women’s Mentoring Program, Theta Phi Alpha to name a few. I gained a lot of time management, organizational, communication and leadership abilities from these organizations. Leadership involvement and organizational skills are one of the key things that all employers keep an eye out for. They are looking for all-round, exceptional students and not just book smarts.
What would you say to an international candidate that would like to pursue employment in the US?
Other than getting involved on campus and acquiring leadership experience, actively search and apply for internships and co-ops. Don’t get discouraged if you do get rejection letters; keep on applying. You never know when a window of opportunity will open up for you. For international students, try and get internships at companies back home for when you go back for summer or winter breaks. Any experience is good experience and will not go to waste. My sophomore year, I worked for 5 weeks as an intern at MSE Engineering Enterprises in Muscat, Oman. I learned how to electrically calibrate instruments and create verification certificates. I also had to observe and create a process flowchart of the calibration procedure. None of this had anything to do with my degree, but it still gave me the experience of working in a corporate environment. My junior year, I was lucky enough to get a semester-long co-op with the same company and team that I am working for presently. It gave me an insight to the structure of the company and its ways. I also realized that being a Systems Engineer was what I wanted to do.
If you cannot attain an internship or a co-op, ask your professors if you can help out with any research projects that they or the school are working on. This is a great way to gain experience as well. Don’t leave any stone unturned.
How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you?
I was told by a recruiter at my company that ERAU is one of the few schools where they hire new graduates without a master’s degree, as they are aware of our rigorous curriculum and all the hands on experience that we get. We have a large ERAU base at our company, and it is great working with the alums on a daily basis. Pursuing and achieving a degree at ERAU means that you have the discipline to work under any condition. ERAU has a great name and reputation in the industry, and you have to live up to it every day.
What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?
Even after getting a job, don’t stop learning. Acquire mentors in your company in fields in which you are interested and want to learn about. Don’t close any doors.