One could call 2009 Aerospace Engineering graduate Jamil Suleman an experiential expert, considering that he has completed six semesters of internship/co-op experience with four different companies and while pursuing his education. In addition, to help finance his education, Jamil gained even more professional work experience through his engineering-related jobs at two local companies. The extensive experience he obtained as a student helped pave the way for a successful start to his career in engineering.
What is the secret to your success?
I believe there is no one particular key that gains you success. It requires a multitude of things to come together and give you the ability to reach a destination. Philosophically, I break down the journey into 3Ds: Desire, Dedication, and Discipline.
A student cannot take on a challenge without first developing a passion for it. So a huge desire to take on a difficult task must pre-exist. Once the passion is there, it has to be maintained and nourished, that is accomplished through one’s dedication. Finally, having the dedication to follow through on your desires is great but there are always distractions that influence us to deviate from our chosen path, discipline is the last key to get you home to the promise land.
From an engineering standpoint, my education at Embry-Riddle has been pivotal. Commitment to understanding the principles and all that homework really helped me. I must emphasize to every student, no matter what happens, do not skip your classes.
Lastly and most importantly, do internships. All the internships and co-ops I completed paved the way for me to be more marketable. My journey began by first working at Boston Whaler as a Design Engineer, a co-op I got through Career Services. Later on, I obtained a three-semester rotational co-op at the career fair with Delta Air Lines as a stress engineer. Lastly, at another career fair, B/E Aerospace offered me an intern position as a stress engineer.
At that point in my life, I had no parental support. The co-ops I completed provided the means to pay my educational debts. In between, I found other jobs at local companies such as Davidson Sales Company, where I designed electrical wiring schematics on AutoCAD, and Absolute Engineering Group, where I corrected engineering drawings and performed hand calculations for hurricane wind loads on coastal residences.
While working on my graduate degree, I did an internship at MidCoast Aviation as a Stress Engineer, a position which I also acquired at the career fair. It was this internship that led to my first full-time stress engineering position with Jet Aviation, a General Dynamics company, in Basel, Switzerland.
After working there for two and a half years, I decided to pursue a more challenging position as a Fatigue and Damage Tolerance Engineer for Premium Aerotec (E.A.D.S) in Augsburg Germany. This opportunity starts in May 2012. So for now I am back here at the Embry-Riddle Hunt Library, still learning. I read somewhere once, “Learning is like rowing against the current; the moment you stop, you drift backwards.” Passion for learning is a key, no matter the field we are in.
What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?
The most important advice to all students: please do as many internships and co-ops with different companies as possible. Do yourself a favor, delay your graduation and do more internships. Students have no idea how helpful it is to have internship experience. It not only teaches one all the latest things that are going on in your field, but it also demonstrates if one wants to work for this organization in the future. It is a great chance for students to evaluate the company. It places the students at a huge advantage.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
I just started my professional career and I believe my best is yet to come. As such, I will answer this question ten years down the line.
What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?
This question can have a wide variety of answers, as it may be specific to each individual’s talents and job profile. In my case, believe it or not, the most important skill is to write grammatically correct English. It is a major problem for a lot of really smart and intelligent engineers. They all can solve complex equations and paste pretty pictures from finite element analysis tools into their reports, but what is largely missing is an explanation for the reader to comprehend the train of thought that governs the analysis. The ability to properly convey the analysis process is almost a lost skill. So I urge students to really develop their technical writing skills.
Additionally, from an engineering standpoint, learn at least one of the following tools really well. I guarantee you that you & your family will not go hungry in life:
- Catia Design Program
- FeMap/Nastran Finite Element Program
- Matlab/SimuLink Mathematical Language Program
Almost 80% of the jobs tend to fall in these engineering fields. The remaining 20% go into aerodynamics and CFD, propulsion, and electrical engineering. The aerodynamics and propulsion jobs are well suited for students who are American citizens and as such, I recommend foreign students to be careful in how they decide their major. For instance, I really had a strong liking towards aerodynamics and CFD but I soon found out that I would not get proper work opportunities due to security clearance issues and stringent defense requirements. The market for structural engineers was compliant, so I adapted and made the shift. This is all part of career planning. I suggest to focus on career paths that will offer rewarding opportunities, then develop your talents and go get them.