Alumni Career Spotlight: Ken Petschauer

Ken Petschauer is a 1991 Aeronautical Science and a 1993 Master of Aeronautical Science graduate from the Daytona Beach campus. Ken is now the E190 Fleet Captain at JetBlue Airways. Ken shares his experience as a pilot who has successfully been through several industry peaks and troughs.

You can meet Ken and ask him questions this week at the Alumni Industry Panel, to be held at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 3, 2011.

Ken Petschauer, DB 1991/1993

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career (so far) was being selected as the Fleet Captain of the E190 at JetBlue. This position allows me to use both my educational background and aviation experience to help the company operate a safe and efficient E190 fleet.  My position allows me to create procedures, train pilots, introduce new technology, interact with engineers, manufacturers, and the FAA and still fly the aircraft. The Fleet Captain position is proving to be very challenging and very rewarding.

How has the cyclical nature of the airline industry impacted you and how have you overcome it?

The cyclical nature of the airline industry has had a significant impact on my career. Initially, a “down” cycle in the industry caused significant furloughs which made finding a flying job very difficult upon my initial graduation from ERAU.  It was a future “up” cycle that occurred to provide the opportunity to be hired with Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1996.  As this cycle continued, it allowed me to gain seniority quickly and fly larger equipment.  The cycle reversed again and led to my furlough in 2003 after the acquisition of TWA by American Airlines. The cycles continued and afforded me the opportunity to be hired by JetBlue in 2004 and once again gain seniority in a relatively quick manner.

The cycles will continue and are inevitable.  We have no influence on them and as such have no control of how or when they will affect us. The best way to endure these cycles is to have a solid background in both education and experience and to seize any and every opportunity to gain more of either.

 What qualities do you value in a first officer?

The most valuable qualities in a first officer would be the same qualities I look for in a Captain or Check Airman.  I could list several but will limit my answer to two for this blog.  A good first officer should be knowledgeable and confident (but not overconfident). Knowledgeable in the procedures of both the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft and the company procedures (Standard Operating Procedures) and confident enough to “speak up” should there be any question as to whether the aircraft is in , or about to be in, and undesired state.

 How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you?

My Embry-Riddle education has very definitely opened doors in my career.  I can think of two clear examples.

The first example was when I walked into a flight school looking for a flight instructor job.  I spoke with the Chief Pilot and was asked about my experience and where I completed my training.  I told him, “ERAU” and his next words were “you’re hired, we hire all of you guys”.

My next example was in my interview with TWA.  I had more than the minimum flight time to be hired but was significantly below the average flight time that the other candidates had.  I was also fortunate enough to be younger than most.  The first question asked of me was related to my ERAU MAS degree and why I chose to take that path, as it set me apart from the other candidates.  I have no doubt that my education had an impact in their hiring decision.


Salary Negotiation in a Tough Economy: Factors to Consider

by Omayra Pearson, Assistant Director, Career Development Services, Lake-Sumter Community College 


Salary negotiation requires research and an awareness of the environment you are negotiating in. First, in order to effectively negotiate, you must know what type of salary ranges are typical for the type of position you are applying. There are many resources and websites to assist you in conducting this type of research, including Once you know what the average salary is for your position then you can look at additional factors such as your previous experience, your educational background, geographic region, etc.  However, one of the most important factors you must assess during the negotiation process is the state of the economy. When the economy is booming you will find more positions available than qualified candidates to fill them. In this type of setting employers are aggressively seeking candidates and competing to get the most qualified person into their company. In addition, you as the candidate will have more negotiation power and therefore may be able to command a higher salary and/or may be able to ask for additional benefits.  However, when the economy is down, candidates lose negotiating power. For one, there are a lot more qualified and competitive candidates seeking employment than there are positions available. This allows companies the freedom to pick and choose from their candidate pool more selectively (this also means that candidates now have to more aggressively seek employment opportunities than in years past). In addition, companies are also on tighter budgets and are less able to provide additional salary. However, you may instead be able to negotiation additional benefits (i.e. additional vacation time, earlier evaluations, travel allowances, professional development, etc).

Other things to be aware of when you are negotiating are how the economy is impacting that company’s business as well as industry. If you are seeking employment with a company that has not be as impacted by the economy then you may have more leverage. However, if the company you are seeking employment with recently laid off employees or have been cutting their budgets, then you will have an idea of how much room you may for negotiation.

The tough economic times we are currently experiencing does not mean that salary and/or benefits cannot be negotiated. However, it does mean that you must have more realistic expectations of your negotiating power. As the economy starts improving in the coming years you will be able to adjust your negotiation skills accordingly.

Salary Search Links and Resources:

The Value of a Thank You

by Kristy Amburgey

If you attended the Industry/Career Expo or had an interview with one of the exhibiting companies, did you send them a thank you note?  If not, I challenge you to immediately send an email to the connection you made or your interviewer, thanking them for their time.  If you did not attend the Expo, I challenge you to follow up on a recent interaction, networking connection, or interview with a note of appreciation.

I may be insisting on an old-fashioned action, but sending a thank you note or email is still an effective way to further your standing with a potential employer.  A thank you can convey your excitement and desire for a position, help you stand out from other candidates, reiterate a key skill or accomplishment or even remind the employer about your abilities one more time.   At the same time, a thank you note can further build your relationship with a person who may have provided you information, support, advice or guidance in your career development.

Some rather savvy job and internship seekers handed their interviewers thank you cards after their interviews the day after the Expo.  One of those savvy seekers mentioned that he could see the appreciation on his interviewer’s face, and he felt that that the thank you card made a difference in being invited for another interview, this time on-location.

Do you still question the value of a thank you?  My challenge to you still stands.  Use the power of a thank you to your advantage, responsibly of course, and send a well-crafted note to your interviewer or any employer who may have provided you valuable information.

Note: You can review a sample thank you on our website.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Nathalie Hildingsson

Nathalie Hildingsson was an international student working on her degree in Business Administration when she was selected for a Route Network Planning internship with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta during the summer of 2010. The following spring, Nathalie then completed an internship with Lufthansa Systems Americas in Miami, FL.  When she graduated in Spring 2011,  she applied for OPT work authorization.  Lufthansa offered her a full-time position on the Bid Marketing and Management team and Nathalie accepted.

While at Embry-Riddle, Nathalie was a member of Delta Mu Delta, International Honor Society in Business and a member of the College of Business Student Advisory Board.  Her extracurricular activities included the Embry-Riddle Track and Field Team, working as a student assistant for the College of Business and serving as a Peer Mentor for First Year Programs.

Nathalie Hildingsson

Nathalie Hildingsson, DB 2011

What are you working on now, and how did you get where you are today?

I am working as a Bid Manager for the Americas region at Lufthansa Systems in Miami. Lufthansa Systems is an IT provider for the airline industry and we provide products that cover all of an airline’s business processes. We have products and services for everything from infrastructure services, like hosting and desktop services, to applications for revenue management and revenue accounting, weight and balance, flight planning, navigation charts, and more recently, wireless in-flight entertainment.

I started my full-time position with Lufthansa Systems in June 2011 after completing a five-month internship with them. During my internship, I was working with marketing and event planning, but a few months before the end of the internship, they offered me a position as a Bid Manager. At first I was nervous since I did not have any background working with bid management; but at the same time, I was excited for the opportunity to prove myself in a different field.

When I accepted the internship with Lufthansa Systems in January, I had no hopes that it would lead to a full-time opportunity. First of all, I was an international student which means that it is a longer process to hire me when compared with a US citizen. Second, I knew that Lufthansa Systems is a German company, and my German skills were, so to say, very limited. What I realized afterwards is that Lufthansa Systems is a company that operates all over the world and my daily working language is actually English, but also that companies will be willing to look past shortcomings, such as not speaking German or even being a US national, if you can prove to them that you will be an asset and your services will help improve their chances of success.

What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?

Be professional, personal, and always work a little harder than people expect from you. This has been my motto during school, professionally, and also as a Track and Field athlete. Everyone knows that it is important to work hard and be professional, but I truly believe it is always important to be personal. There might be several candidates that are qualified for a position, but, at the end of the day, they will pick the person who they believe they can sit next to 40 hours per week and enjoy it.

What career advice would you like to share?

Get a job on campus – it will give you an opportunity to connect to people that you normally would not have a relationship with. In my campus job, I worked with students, professors, and visitors to the campus. I developed a really good relationship with my professors and the staff at Embry-Riddle while working for the Dean in the College of Business. I still keep in touch with some of them and I know that I could ask for a favor if it was ever needed. Working on campus also prepared me for my internships, and even for the job that I have now.

Network – if someone gives you an opportunity to network with people, take it! You never know who you will meet, and how those people can help you in the future. It will also give you a great opportunity to learn from others.

Do an internship or two – I did my first internship with Delta Air Lines in Schedule Planning, and it was a great experience. First of all, I had flight benefits for a summer and was able to fly to Brazil, Denmark and to several destinations within the US. That was just a perk though! The most valuable experience was learning to work for management and live up to their expectations. When I came to my second internship with Lufthansa Systems, I already felt comfortable working with management, and I was able to impress them more than during my first internship with Delta.

Find your passion – I sometimes thought that the aviation industry just had one type of job to offer, and I had to pursue that to become successful. I later learned that this industry has so many different opportunities; you just have to find what your passion is and then go for it. In my opinion, you will only be truly good at your job and be most productive if you enjoy what you are doing. This is something that I found when I started working for Lufthansa Systems and I think the feeling will continue to grow in the future.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you?

Embry-Riddle has definitely opened doors for me, and I am sure that it will continue to do so in the future as well. My first contact with Lufthansa Systems was at the Career Expo in 2010; they were exclusively looking for Embry-Riddle students since they were aware of the aviation experience and background we have. At Riddle, we are exposed to the aviation industry in a way that other schools cannot compete with.

I meet and talk to people constantly that are somehow connected to Embry-Riddle. It really does feel like a family out there of Embry-Riddle alumni. However, do not fool yourself and think that you are better than others because you have an Embry-Riddle degree. We earned the degree and now we have to continue to impress and prove why we are the leader in aerospace education.

Employer Advice from the Industry/Career Expo

Every year at the end of the Industry/Career Expo, we survey employers to get their feedback on the event. We assess everything from the helpfulness of the Career Services staff to how happy employers were with the candidates with which they met.

This year, we also asked employers if they had any specific job search or career advice that they would like to share with students and alumni seeking job opportunities.

Industry/Career Expo 2011

Photographer: Andrea Hooper

Here is what they had to say…

regarding internships:

  • We need more ERAU students doing internships. They are more prepared. – Mark Lyden, Boeing
  • An internship is essential for grads to have under their belts, to then look for full-time employee roles for after graduation  – Dana Fortuna, StandardAero
  • Complete as many internships as you can – Ethan Croop, Lee County Port Authority

regarding career fair preparation:

  • Research companies you’re interested in. Know about them and be prepared to share. – Eric Poole, JetBlue Airways
  • Be specific. Research company and tell us why we should hire you (technical qualifications). – Annelise Deatherage, Jamco America, Inc.
  • Don’t just wait for a company to call you. Be active and apply! – Sara Gilder, CTS International
  • Introduce self with firm handshake, not death grip. Improve appearance and discuss qualifications and unique set of skills – don’t share resume [verbatim]. – American Airlines
  • Have an open mind; do not discount opportunities presented – Labinal/Safran
  • Would benefit from additional research on companies and more focused responses – GE Aviation
  • Sell [yourself] more; don’t wait for company reps to ask all of the questions – GE Aviation
  • Refrain from using the term, “you guys” when referring to employers. Always address the employer by company or by specific name. “What do you guys have to offer?” is not a good approach, or opening statement. – URS Corporation
  • Be a little more specific on your resume, not “work in a position where I can grow for a dynamic company.” – Jamco America, Inc.
  • Communicate and think about your career goals for the next 3-5 years. There are many areas of expertise to specialize in within aviation/aerospace. – StandardAero
  • Get help from Career Services; it shows when you do – Boeing

 regarding the interview process:

  • Concentrate and prepare for check rides – Scott Swanson, Air Wisconsin
  • Tie your experience to the job requirements – Pat Dunagan, Aero Simulation, Inc.
  • Please emphasize personality; in a competitive environment, it’s what sets you apart from the rest! – Peter Schroeder, Jet Support Services, Inc.
  • Have [realistic] views/expectations regarding salary and first job level. – Amy Southerland, Safran

regarding dressing for career fairs and interviews:

  • Dress to impress. Think twice about displaying body piercings or inappropriate tattoos. – Don Horn, Cessna

regarding skills:

  • [Work on] public speaking – Jason Wescott, NASIC
  • Take leadership [roles] on campus! – Tyler Chini, GE Aviation
  • Maintain high GPA, highlight leadership – get involved – James Wilson, American Eagle Airlines
  • Improve talking skills – GE Aviation

What Companies Want

by Kristy Amburgey

Seeking someone with great communication skills, enthusiasm, passion, technical knowledge, professionalism, energy, maturity, and analytical skills.

Sounds like a perfect partner, right?  It is!  These are some of the qualities that employers who recruit from Embry-Riddle look for in their prospective employees, and these strengths are what they often find in the best ERAU candidates.  Based on feedback from employers, there were a number of skills that were sought by the survey respondents.  Review some of the top categories and ways that you can prove your value to a potential employer.

Preparation: research the company, products and values thoroughly; the employers valued the candidate that knew information about their organizations and how, as a candidate, he or she could contribute to the overall goals

Experience: internship, lab, practical, etc. – the type of experience was secondary to the candidate’s ability to describe and apply his or her experiences to the company’s needs

Positive Attitude: talk about previous jobs, classes/faculty and experiences, even the challenges, as ways you grew and learned and not as a detriment or excuse for your past; candidates with positive attitudes stood out to our employers and made the candidates appear more hirable; professionalism was also mentioned as a valued attitude

Enthusiasm/Passion/Excitement: the easiest way to show enthusiasm – smile; you also want to use positive wording and an upbeat tone when talking about your interest in the job and/or field

Academic Success: maintain your GPA and select courses/training that support your career goals; excel in any leadership or group experiences as a way to prove academic success

Communication Skills: demonstrate your skills by providing specific examples of effective communication, which can include projects completed or result-focused stories

Some of the other valuable characteristics mentioned include: poise, team player, clear direction of what you want, self awareness, understanding of business concepts, ability to think creatively, determination, skills and technical knowledge and leadership.

Employers want to see candidates who are well-prepared, well-rounded and well-qualified for their positions, so answer that advertisement for the perfect partner and show the employer your best qualities.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Chris Jones

Chris Jones WW 2009

Chris Jones (WW 2009)

When Chris Jones landed a job with the US Navy after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from the Worldwide campus in 2009, he contacted the Career Services Office to let us know how valuable his internship experience had been in directing his career path towards the field of emergency management. Before getting hired by the Navy, Chris started a small business, CJ’s Mobile Wash and Wax LLC, which he still owns and operates. We are thrilled to have the chance to share his positive and inspiring experience.

What professional endeavor have you been devoted to lately?

Over the past 18 months, I have been working for the Department of the Navy as the Emergency Operations Center Manager at Naval Station Everett. This career involves working with enlisted service members, military officers, and civilians, helping them to prepare for, respond to and recover from man-made and natural disasters.

We know that you are an advocate for experiential learning.  Tell us why you feel internships are so important.

I am a solid advocate for the internship program whether paid or unpaid. Having spent a year and half in an unpaid internship in emergency management taught me the value of experiential learning. One of the tasks I was assigned included beta testing a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software program known as Depiction. I had no idea what a beta test was nor what GIS was for that matter. That endeavor gave me great insight into many emergency management areas, including where above- and below-ground utilities were in reference to schools and hospitals; mass-transit information such as the number of busses, how many they seat, how much fuel the hold; where sign boards are for notification purposes and so on. That training was one of the keys that I brought to my interview and later, my career with the Navy. Not only do I now know what GIS is, but I also know how to employ it for situational awareness for decision makers.

How do you utilize your network to help you in your career?

One of my projects with the Navy involved analysis of which of our public protection strategies would be best with regard to HAZMAT spill scenarios we were running. Earlier in my internship, I was introduced to Dr. Jerry Galt who wrote the algorithms for the air modeling program we were using. In a conversation with my boss, I mentioned my connection with Dr. Galt and that I would invite Dr. Galt down for a conversation. A few weeks later, Dr. Galt came by, presenting some basic and in-depth wisdom to our EOC staff and our HAZMAT techs. Simply invaluable!

What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?

The one piece of advice I would offer is to consider internships that might be out of your specific area of interest. For me, my minors were business management and safety. The internship I did was in Emergency Management. That was the best decision I ever made.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Industry/Career Expo

by Sandi Ohman

Below are the top 10 reasons students and alumni should attend the 2011 Industry/Career Expo on October 19.

Lockheed Martin Booth

Lockheed Martin booth

10.  Familiarize yourself with the set-up and the environment of a career fair (1st & 2nd year students particularly), so you are not overwhelmed and overly nervous when it really counts

9.  Build your network – meet and talk with recruiters from over 90 industry-leading companies

8.  Wear the interviewing suit you’ve been anxious to wear since you bought it.  Don’t know what to wear? Watch the Dressing for Success presentation for men or for women on the Career Services Presentation Archives page. * Bonus Tip – break in your shoes before the expo *

7.  Practice speaking to employers by developing your “elevator speech.”  Watch the Working the Expo and Perfect Your Pitch: Using an Elevator Speech to Impress presentations if you weren’t able to attend in person.

6.  Receive fun & useful “goodies” from employers – but please, don’t grab & run! Talk to the recruiters, politely asking if you may have an item. Be sure to say “thank you.”

5.  Show off your FABULOUS resume –What?!? Not fabulous?! Watch a previously recorded presentation on Resume & Cover Letter Writing. View samples on the Career Services website, and have your resume critiqued without an appointment at the Walk-up Resume Critiques (10/14) or by uploading your resume to the EagleHire Network by 10/14.

4.  Find out about outstanding Internship Opportunities

3.  Learn/Inquire about Full-time Job Opportunities with industry-leading companies – See list of employers

2.  Interview with companies looking to fill experienced, entry-level & internship opportunities – need practice? Watch the previously recorded  Ace the Interview presentation and try out Perfect Interview (on your EagleHire Network home page) for practice

1. Leave college with experience and a career opportunity!

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida. 

How To Get Your Résumé Noticed In The Online Application Process

By Mark Lyden

Before you apply to any job opening, before you set up any account or profile on any website, before you do anything, wouldn’t it be nice to have the inside story on what the manager is looking for in a candidate?  Especially the required skills or knowledge they want you to have so you can highlight that on your résumé?

Now, I can’t tell you what key words and phrases they are going to use.  But let me enlighten you on how this often gets done.  You have a person sitting at a computer.  Their job is to essentially screen all the résumés that are associated with a particular job.  You know what is scary?  You would think that these people understand the difference between, for example, an industrial engineer and mechanical engineer or the difference between finance and supply chain management.  Well, many of them do, but a significant amount may not, and some don’t have a clue! Ironically, the same thing I just told you to do, they do.  They just look at the job description and simply look for the key words and phrases the manager put down, type them into a field on the computer, and press “enter.”  Then whoever doesn’t have those key words or phrases in their résumé, exactly how they typed them in is simply counted out.  But be careful.  You need to incorporate those key words and phrases verbatim.  Remember, you don’t know how sophisticated their screening system is.

Whether you think that is totally unfair or not, it is a reality in many companies.  So use this to your advantage.  Outmaneuver the computer-screening process so that you have the best chance of being looked at.  I am not saying to lie or cheat.  I am just saying to completely cater your résumé to each and every job you apply to.  Use the 7 Critical Steps and you will have a far better chance of getting to the next step in the process:

  1. DON’T FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS when a company website tells you how to apply! Before doing anything else, go to the company website and print out all the jobs that you qualify for and not just the ones that you are most interested in.
  2.  Take a highlighter and highlight all the key words and phrases in the job description used to describe the skills, knowledge, and years of experience they want or prefer.
  3. Take the key words and phrases you highlighted, verbatim, and incorporate them throughout your résumé.
  4. Create a heading at the very end of your résumé labeled “INTEREST AREAS” and take all the key words and phrases you previously highlighted and list them, verbatim, under this heading.
  5. NOW follow the directions of the site, which may include setting up an account online.  Make sure to take those same key words and phrases and incorporate them into your profile or the “interest areas” section, if they have that option.
  6. Apply for the job.
  7. As you apply for more openings, continually update the key words and phrases in your résumé in your profile or interest area section.

This is called “reverse engineering” your résumé.  From the job description, see what they want first.  See what are key words and phrases are that they want to see.  Then adjust your résumé and apply.  Just remember:  to do it right, it will take you about forty to forty-five minutes to take your “base” résumé and transform it into a résumé specific for each job.  Approach it this way:  each job that you apply for is the ONLY job your résumé is geared to.  It may sound like a lot of time and effort, but to stand out and to get contacted, your résumé can’t just be a good match; it must be a GREAT match.  This is the way to ensure that is the case for each and every job you apply for.

When I teach seminars on this topic, some ask, “Won’t they look at my résumé and count me out when they see that I just listed all the key words and phrases in the ‘interest areas’ section of my résumé?”  The answer is they might, especially if you haven’t first incorporated those same key words and phrases throughout your résumé.  That is why doing both is critical.  For example, just incorporating the key words and phrases into your résumé is great and might get you through to the next step, but might not raise your percentage compatibility to a high enough level and you miss the cut off.  Remember, with the online processes being the way they are at most companies, there are very few ways for candidates to stand out.  There could be ten candidates that by luck score a higher percentage compatibility, and although you meet all the qualifications, others are “more qualified” according to the computer, and you are counted out.  That is why having the “interest areas” section helps.  Again, it helps boost your compatibility percentage.  Moreover, if you just cut and paste all the key words in the “interest areas” section without also incorporating them into your résumé, they will probably see this and count you out.

When I say to incorporate the key words and phrases into your résumé, what I mean is to have them distributed throughout your résumé.  Change or add bullet items in appropriate places.  Change your objective to have some in there.  The more time you spend doing it this way, the more calls you are going to get.  Try the 7 Critical Steps.

Lastly, if you are applying to jobs online and you are quickly getting counted out, that is the BEST indicator that you are not doing a good enough job at catering your résumé to each specific job.  If you find yourself in that situation, you must go back to the 7 Critical Steps and follow that advice step by step.  Remember, when you are applying to a particular job, your résumé should be entirely focused on just that one job.


Mark Lyden is an expert at getting people jobs…in THIS difficult job market. He has already helped thousands with his advice because it is different and it is PROVEN to work! The advice he gives is not the traditional advice that can be found on the Internet or being given by most career professionals. Now and for the last 15-years, Mr. Lyden has been a Professional Lead Recruiter for a Fortune 50 company. Mark is the author of: College Students: Do This! Get Hired!; Veterans: Do This! Get Hired!; and, Professionals: Do This! Get Hired! Visit for additional information. A substantial portion of the proceeds from book sales are donated back to charity to help veterans and to help the stray and abandoned animals at Logan’s Run Rescue.

Now and for a limited time, ERAU students/alumni can get a discount on any of the books by visiting:

Alumni Career Spotlight: Natalia Kozyura

This week we are spotlighting Natalia Kozyura, a 2004 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program at the Daytona Beach campus. Natalia worked closely with Career Services during her time as a student, completing an internship with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and often participating in Career Services related activities and events.

Natalia Kozyura, DB 2004

Natalia is now a Program Manager for Microsoft Corporation, where she has worked for the last three and a half years. Natalia was instrumental in bringing the company’s attention to the great candidates that Embry-Riddle has to offer. Last year, Microsoft came to campus for an information session and this year, they are attending the Industry/Career Expo for the first time. We sincerely appreciate Natalia’s dedication to the university and it is great to be working with her as an employer.

What are you working on right now within your position at Microsoft?

I am currently working on Xbox and Kinect. I am a program manager for video and music applications on Xbox. I’ve been working on these products for the last three years and it has been a lot of fun to work on the first version of the app, as well as be part of the team shipping the first version of Kinect. As a program manager, I work closely with developers, testers, designers, business and marketing teams. We define what features will make customers happy and then build them.

You actively participate in the on-campus recruiting at Embry-Riddle for Microsoft. What qualities do the candidates who stand out the most possess?

In college recruiting I am looking for:

  • Engineering degree, preferably in Computer Science or Computer Engineering
  • Relevant internship/work experience
  • Programming projects (both class and independent)
  • Strong GPA
  • Leadership skills: class leadership, community involvement, athletics, club/group leadership

What career advice can you share with international students and alumni seeking work in the United States?

I would recommend choosing a technical degree that is in demand in the United States; examples would be Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and other engineering degrees. From my experience it’s harder for international students to find companies that are willing to sponsor H1B visas with more general degrees.

Start early looking for a job, ideally a year before graduating. Networking is very important. Get in touch with alumni in companies that hire ERAU students, attend industry conferences, and don’t rely on job websites in your search. One thing to keep in mind is that you most likely will be rejected a number of times before you land a great job.  It is just part of the process. Some people are lucky in finding a job quickly, but most of us will have to put time and effort into it. Try to enjoy the process and don’t take it personally.

What are your plans for the future?

In near future, I am interested in moving to Europe to work for a few years. Long-term, I would like to launch a tech startup and see how it goes.

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