When Stephen Smyth graduated from Embry-Riddle in 1995 with a BS in Aircraft Engineering Technology, he was certain that he was going to complete a 20-year career in the Army. As a First Lieutenant serving at Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley, KS, Stephen was exposed to new career possibilities and decided to leave the military to enter the civilian workforce. Today, he is a Medical Device Consultant with DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company.
How did you go from a degree in aircraft engineering to a career in medical device sales?
I was Army ROTC at ERAU and the engineering degree enabled me to secure a full 4-year scholarship. Upon graduatiuon, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. During the next four years on active duty, I served in a variety of leadership positions. During my final assignment, I worked in the hospital at Ft. Riley, KS. I was the Chief of Materials Management. In this position I was able to meet a wide variety of civilian pharmaceutical and medical device sales consultants. The job sounded amazing and fit my interests. When I finished my commitment to the Army, I obtained a position as a Pharmaceutical Representative and later was able to break into Medical Devices.
What does a medical device consultant do?
I provide technical support and make recommendations regarding our products to surgeons and their staff in the operating room for a variety of surgical cases (e.g., Total Knee, Total Hips and Trauma in Orthopaedics).
How has your Embry-Riddle degree been helpful in your position?
As an engineering graduate, I consider myself to be a problem solver. When problems are encountered in surgery, which seems to happen a lot, I am able to lend my advice to the surgeon and provide various solutions. I always have a plan B, C, and D when I start a case. My degree has also helped me to easily grasp the highly technical nature of my job. In addition, my educational background has allowed me to stand out among other candidates when vying for job opportunities.
Do you have any career advice for ROTC students getting ready to enter into the military, and/or military personnel getting ready to transition to civilian work?
Network, Network, Network! Establish relationships with senior officers so that when you need a letter of recommendation, you’ll get it easily. Network with civilian contractors too. Work to continously update and build on your resume. Work on your master’s degree while serving. Start the relationship process early in your military career with some of the better JMO (Junior Military Officer) recruiting firms. Create a LinkedIn account and post your resume on Monster and some of the other job boards. It also doesn’t hurt to get to know the Career Services staff at Embry-Riddle and to check out the resources they have available on their website for those who are transitioning from the military.