Conference and Event Preparation: A Student’s Perspective

by Krystel Parra

Going to a career-related conference can be intimidating at first. You are surrounded by the industry’s elite and many potential employers. So how do you act in this type of situation?

As a student, the first conference I attended was Women in Aviation. Before the conference, I made sure that I had the right attire with me and was dressed appropriately. I wore what I would wear for a job interview, which ultimately gave me confidence. I had business cards with me just in case.  When I arrived, I was shocked that there were so many people who loved aviation just like I do. Women in Aviation hosted seminars, receptions, banquets, and booths showcasing various aviation-related companies. Initially it was hard to decide where to go and when since everything was happening at the same time. I made a schedule of events by prioritizing which was of most importance to me; that way, I didn’t miss anything that was related to my career and passion.

Next I made my way along the booths and made sure I talked to every company. I introduced myself and told them what I was looking for: an internship or co-op in Aviation Safety. Normally, they would direct me to the right person and give me their business cards. I would then proceed to give them my business card just so they would remember me and put a face with my qualifications. After I left their booth, I wrote a short description of what we talked about on the back of the business card. I was able to email everyone and remind them who I was, what we talked about and thanked them for their time. I also asked if there were any positions available and to please let me know. Besides good etiquette, emailing potential employers allowed them to remember me after the conference was over.

Additionally, during the conference we had many dining events where we were seated with people we had never met. Because we were seated with strangers, it gave us the opportunity to network during the meals. For example, while attending the last banquet, I sat next to a recruiter who had worked for numerous companies. She said that she loved to help people get jobs by letting them know for what the companies were looking. Throughout the night she gave me a few tips on how to land my dream job. This was what she said to me:

  • Do not be intimidated by the recruiters. They are happy to help you because they are looking for people who are compatible for the job.
  • People in higher positions are normally more open to students because they themselves have reached success and are willing to help others.
  • Join LinkedIn and talk to people online who are in your career. You may one day meet them in person, and you already have previous discussions on which you can build to help you stand out.
  • Have an updated resume and business cards. The business card will allow the employer to remember you after you left. So as a student, make sure the business card provides your name, contact information, major, graduation date, and internship experience. Your business card should be like a mini-resume.
  • Join nationally recognized organizations that are related to your field of study, such as Women in Aviation.

At the end of the dinner, she had enjoyed our conversation so much that she promised to introduce me to Gulfstream, a company for which she recruits. Talking to the recruiter gave me insight into the perspective of recruiters and what they were looking for in candidates. I started to implement these techniques.  Already, my connections have broadened.

I realize that every conference is an opportunity to meet great people who share the same interest and have connections that may help me get started on my career; therefore, it is always best to put your best foot forward because, as the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Krystel Parra is a an undergraduate student in the Safety Science program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She works as a student assistant in the Career Services Office and is currently interning with Larsen Motorsports as a Safety Specialist Intern. Krystel also serves as an ambassador for the Embry-Riddle Women’s Ambassador Program.


Alumni Career Spotlight: Joe Gibney

Joe Gibney, DB 1998

Joe Gibney joined Signature Flight Support more than 12 years ago and has held multiple roles within the company.He is presently in London as Vice President and Managing Director for the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa businesses. He earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1998, where he also served as a Presidential Fellow. 

What challenges face upcoming graduates as they transition from a college environment to the work place?

Given the current economic outlook, many companies are scaling back and not hiring.  In addition, there are lots of experienced people in the market right now.  New graduates are competing against people with significant work experience.  That makes it really important to have internships, co-ops, or past experience on your resume.  Most importantly, take the time to create relationships with people at your target companies.  This, along with good recommendations from people respected in industry, will help to open doors.  In general, but especially in this market, you need people “on the inside” pulling for you.

What recommendations do you have for candidates seeking to find international employment?

In general, unless you come with the right to work in a particular country, i.e. have an existing visa or work permit, gaining international employment can be very difficult.  Assuming this box is checked, language skills, unique knowledge or something else which differentiates a candidate will make all the difference.  The key is to ask yourself what you bring to the table that someone “in country” cannot bring.

What characteristics do you consider when interviewing someone?

I consider hiring the right people to be the single most important contribution I (and any business leader) can make to the success of the organization.  I take hiring, and thus interviewing, very seriously.  A candidate should know about the company in question and have done their research.  He or she should ask intelligent and probing questions, both to demonstrate some knowledge as well as to communicate intellectual curiosity and the desire to learn.  Basic communication, analytical and technical skills are a given – if a person can’t mark up a document in Word, perform basic analysis in Excel, or put together a coherent PowerPoint presentation, he or she is not equipped for any business role these days.  I also want to see evidence of passion, commitment, teamwork, a career plan, etc.  Lastly, a person needs to have good “fit” with the organization, share the organization’s values, etc.  I look for people who can excel in their present role, but also have the ability to grow with the business.

How has your Embry-Riddle experience helped you to advance to your current position?

Embry-Riddle was excellent preparation for my career in business aviation.  The MBA program gave me broad exposure to business, from accounting and finance, to marketing, analysis and strategy.  I can honestly report that I have used almost every course in practice.  In addition to the general business curriculum and aviation coursework, Embry-Riddle provided great exposure to the industry (reference my comment above about developing relationships with industry in order to get your “foot in the door” with a good company).  An Embry-Riddle degree is seen as a good pedigree and indicates not just educational attainment but also a passion for the business.  I certainly made the right choice going with Embry-Riddle for my graduate level education.

Happy Spring Break, Students!

Are Life Choices Job Choices?

by Kristy Amburgey

Life throws many choices at you every day.  Some of your decisions will be simple while others will be challenging and thought-provoking.  Some choices affect little in your life, and other choices have long term impact on you.  As a job seeker and professional, you have to consider what happens at the intersection of life choices and your career path.  When do your life choices become job choices?

If there is one absolute that we can all attest to, it is that the choices you make in life follow and impact you.  This concept rings especially true in your work life and your job search life.  Really, any decision, both major and minor, you make could affect your future ability to obtain employment and remain employed.  Your life choices could become job choices at any point in time in any situation.

What do these life choices as job choices look like?  It could be anything from how you dress to how you present yourself.  It could be a passion you have, where you worked, what you did in your past or what you did not do in the past.  It could be an event in your life documented on social media, or it could be how you act when confronted with any of these choices.   Concrete examples include showing a poor attitude at work, visible tattoos or piercings, dress that challenges the industry standards, pictures of you in an irresponsible position, listing a controversial organization/club on your resume, bringing religion into the workplace and more.  More serious life and job choices can include financial decisions, decisions that challenge social and professional obligations, choices that put you in conflict with the law and decisions that compromise your integrity and reputation.

Bringing up such a sensitive topic might seem slightly out of place in the career services realm, but this area is one in which you have to be aware.  You need to have an understanding of your industry as some career fields are more conservative than others.  As you interview for positions, you need to know that employers evaluate you, not just on your skills and accomplishments, but on your fit within their team.  Remember that companies often do background checks, and these can include things such as driving records, financial history and your internet presence.  Security clearance and reference checks may bring up topics that affect you, while any indiscretion, perceived or not, may impact your hire-ability.

On the other hand, you don’t want to lose yourself and your values.  We are not asking you to change for the sake of a job, and we don’t want you to live in fear of making a mistake or making a poor decision. We all have made life choices that may not have panned out for us as we wanted or expected.  That is ok.  What we want you to take away from this is that you need to be cognizant about the decisions you make and how those choices could impact your future in a positive or negative way.  We ask that you take time to evaluate your decisions to understand how they might fit into your job search and professional growth plan.  We want you to understand that some life choices you make now may affect your future career options.  It is a tall order to ask you to think about your future as you make all your decisions.  We know that family, values, beliefs, passions, and stability are just as important in the decision-making process.  We ask that you stop and add one more point of evaluation to your decision process.  Please think about how your life choices might impact your job choices.

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: Jamil Suleman

Jamil Suleman, DB 2009

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:

  1. Catia Design Program
  2. FeMap/Nastran Finite Element Program
  3. 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.

The Resume Mystery: Solving Your Case for Employment

by Kristy Amburgey

Mystery movies, TV shows and books abound.  CSI, Sherlock Holmes and every Law & Order show imaginable are there to intrigue you and grab your attention.  The tenet of most of these amusements is the protagonist’s ability, much of the time, to establish evidence of a case and solve some great mystery.  With this image in mind, I ask you to examine your own resume and whether or not it establishes your case for employment.  Is an employer able to find evidence of your abilities, accomplishments and goals through your resume, or does your document create a mystery that not even a seasoned sleuth could solve?  The goal of your resume is to establish what job you want, how you can contribute to the company and that you meet the qualifications set forth by the company.  Understanding the need for a solid resume, I want you to pull out your magnifying glass and start combing through your background to build a case for your desired job.

To build your case, it is important to understand what the employer expects.  Read the job description, research the company and review feedback you have on the organization.  What are the company values?  What are common key words for this type of job?  What are the top qualities they want in a candidate?  What educational accomplishments are expected?  What advice did you receive from your contacts about the company?  Start the case-building process with your research and the job description.

The next step in building your case is taking your insight into the job and company and actually composing your resume.  Don’t skimp on the time you take with this process.  For every point in the description, ask yourself if there is an accomplishment from your past that would prove your ability to do that task.  You won’t necessarily have accomplishments related to all of the job description’s points, but you should integrate as many as you can that relate to the job.  What you don’t want to do is add accomplishments just to add them; keep each point related to the job and company.  Formatting your accomplishments as action-oriented content is an important part of the composition process.  One way to format your accomplishments is to start with an action verb and then list the description and outcome.  At times it is better to start with the action-focused outcome and then provide the description.  In each point, you must be concise and focused.

While building your case via the resume, you may get stuck from time to time, especially if you don’t have specific experiences related to the job.  At this juncture, brainstorm about your background to see if you have supporting evidence for success based on your previous experiences.  Consider all aspects from your past, including work, academics, professional memberships, leadership experiences and more.  These past accomplishments may be directly or indirectly related to the job you are pursuing.  When you do get stumped, use the below questions as prompts to work your way through the job description and resume evaluation process.  These questions should be used to guide you through the process as opposed to what you absolutely have to include in the resume.  Remember, what you list still needs to relate to the job you are seeking.

  • For any project, work or academic, what skills did you use to achieve the desired outcome?  What was the result of the project?  Did you get any recognition from the completion of the project?
  • When you had your last review or evaluation, what was an area or skill for which you received kudos?  Is there an accomplishment that exemplifies your evaluated strength?
  • In any of your work accomplishments, do you have quantifiable information to provide?
  • If you worked with people, do you have any positive feedback, ratings or other items that exemplify your people skills?
  • When you analyzed a situation, what was the outcome?
  • When you resolved a situation or problem, did you obtain favorable results?
  • If you ever advocated for implementing something, did a positive change occur?
  • What have you initiated?
  • How has your management style helped your team succeed?  Did you make positive contributions to the growth of your employees?
  • If you trained others, were they successful?
  • How many clients or customers did you handle at once?  How many projects or tasks within a project did you balance?
  • Did you design or develop a new product, idea or method that was used?
  • Did you improve a function or process?
  • Did you positively impact your organization’s bottom line?
  • Did you identify a new stream of revenue or money saving tactic?
  • When organizing and planning, was the event, project, program, etc. successful?
  • Did you follow company, federal or other regulations to achieve something?
  • Were you creative or resourceful in a way that led to a success?
  • Did you volunteer to take on work above and beyond what was expected?

These questions are great when developing your resume, but there are some job types in which you won’t have numbers to include or specific outcomes to list. There are jobs in which education, ratings, time and/or certifications are more important in the hiring process. Regardless, I still recommend that you use this exercise to identify the results you can list, which may include more qualitative accomplishments than quantitative details.

Just like with a good mystery, your case for employment has to emphasize solutions and minimize doubt about your ability to do the job.  For your resume, you need to establish, as best you can, a solid case for employment and remove doubt from an employer’s mind about your ability to do and succeed in the job.  To do this, you should integrate concrete evidence of your accomplishments into your resume so that an employer can best judge your fit for the job.  Use your resume to create a tantalizing story of accomplishments, successes and outcomes, and you will have cracked the case.

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.

What We Learned from the USAF Thunderbirds

by Brian Carhide


The United States Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team has long been the epitome of aviation professionalism. Recently, when the Thunderbirds visited the Daytona Beach campus, we had the opportunity to meet and listen to the stories of those men and women whose precision flying is measured in inches and perfection is the only option!

For many pilots, including myself, the Thunderbird pilots are like movie stars. And like many successful professionals, the members of the Thunderbirds weren’t just handed this opportunity. They are a part of this team because of hard work, dedication, and passion. Many of those on the team have previous combat experience and typically over 8 years of experience in the U.S. Air Force prior to becoming a Thunderbird. Two members of the Thunderbird team are ERAU alumni. Achieving a position on the team requires a comprehensive application process which can include competing with 35 other applicants for 6 open slots on the team.

Some advice they offered to the students:

Maintenance Officer 11, or “Blue” as they called him, is an alumnus of the Daytona Beach campus, and he offered a key piece of advice — “Have a backup plan”. He was an Aeronautical Science student; however, he eventually discovered he had an issue with his vision, disqualifying him from flying as a Thunderbird pilot. Despite the disappointment, he maintained his loyalty to the Air Force and commitment to becoming a Thunderbird, a goal well accomplished.

Pilot number 5, an alumnus of the Prescott campus, attributed his journey to a coveted slot on the Thunderbirds as his ability to set mini goals. His initial goal was not to be a Thunderbird pilot. However, as he successfully accomplished each of the mini goals he set, the opportunity to be a Thunderbird pilot came into focus. He encouraged the audience not to get discouraged; if you stay loyal and continue to work toward the short-term goals, the long-term goals will happen. He also shared with the audience why the number 5 on his uniform is upside down. Pilots 5 and 6 are the solo pilots during the demonstration, and when any of the maneuvers performed by the solo pilots where one of them is inverted, its pilot number 5; hence, the upside down 5 on the uniform.

Pilot number 3, a female pilot on the current team, has begun her first year of the two-year rotation. With 9 years in the Air Force including combat experience, her poise and humble demeanor as a Thunderbird pilot made a positive impact on the students. Her story truly illustrated that the ability to succeed is dependent on the person and not a piece of paper. As with the other team members, pilot number 3 maintains a balance between family life and work.

The Thunderbird pilots display perfection in everything they do, from the sharp blue uniforms to the jaw-dropping performances, yet their level of humbleness and commitment is staggering. Your goal may not be a pilot for the USAF Thunderbirds, but if an individual conducts themselves as the Thunderbird team members have exhibited, the possibilities of success are endless.

Brian Carhide has more than 20 years of professional aviation experience. He spent many years as a professional pilot, including experience as a charter and airline pilot. Recently, he has been a leader in guiding young aviators in higher education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.   

The Virtual Hiring Event: A How To

Be sure to participate in the Virtual Hiring Event (VHE) for Embry-Riddle candidates seeking full-time employment. The VHE will be Monday, February 11 – Thursday, February 21 in the EagleHire Network with preview days on Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10. Job seekers will have the ability to view and apply to full-time job postings from various companies who are seeking candidates.


  • Log in to your EagleHire Network account
  • Select “2013 Virtual Hiring Event” under “More Searches” or click on the Virtual Hiring Event logo
  • Here, you can either narrow your search by selecting items for your query, or you can keep your search broad to see what positions are posted by not selecting any query items
  • Click on each position to view more information and to apply

Jobs will be viewable on Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10. Jobs will be available for application starting on Monday, February 11 at 12:01 am EST and will run through 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, February 21.

In order to participate, an approved resume must be on the EagleHire Network system. Due to the increase in resumes uploaded during this time period, job seekers should expect an extended turnaround on resume reviews. Keep in mind that this may prevent you from participating in the event if you upload a resume too late.

Even if you are not actively searching for a full-time position, use the Virtual Hiring Event to explore career and company options. Please remember that jobs are available in EagleHire Network throughout the year, so you should consistently review the system for opportunities. Check out the company’s website as well to identify additional opportunities in the area(s) you seek. Also remember that networking is imperative in any job search, so find connections to the companies to which you applied for an extra step in the search.

Dress for Success

by Jessica Steinmann

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, the Women’s Center brought Lisa Maile, a professional speaker and image consultant from Orlando, Florida, to host “Dress for Success.” This event informed female students on how to look their best so that they could feel confident while attending a job interview, conference, career fair and/or even everyday work in their respective fields. The feedback was very positive for those who attended. Ms. Maile was insightful and very meticulous. She points out every little detail that you probably would not have thought about while getting ready for an interview. She discussed everything from clothing, make up, hair, nails, and jewelry, to posture and interviewing etiquette.

Here are just the quick key features of the presentation on how to get the power look.

Selecting a Suit

Lisa’s four key factors to keep in mind when picking out a suit for a job interview are color, pattern, texture, and shape.  A wardrobe for an interview or work does not have to be expensive to fit these four factors, but if it does fit these four factors, then it will look expensive. It is very possible to find a suit for $69.99 that will fit these four factors. It is not necessary to go out and buy a designer suit, because like Lisa blatantly stated, you will walk into your interview saying, ‘Hi, my name is ___________ and this suit is Armani.’

  • When picking out a suit, you want to stick to dark colors such as black, navy blue, or dark gray, and contrast it with a crisp white button up blouse underneath. Black is the most powerful suit color you could wear.
  • Conservative is always acceptable in the business world. For women, it is more effective to wear a skirt suit than a pant suit.
  • When considering pattern, pin stripe is the safest suit option, but you also want to consider the pattern of your blouse and the way your suit is cut.
  • Be sure that the blouse does not have a plunging neck line.
  • Always remember:  when picking out clothes for an interview, you want everything to accent your face; avoid blouses that draw the interviewer’s attention to your shirt.
  • The texture of your suit is very important because you do not want it to be flimsy. You want your suit to be able to hold its shape on a hanger and for it to appear as though it is standing “at attention” when you wear it.
  • Her last key factor for picking out the perfect outfit was shape. You want your suit to make you look tall and lean.
  • Avoid tight form fitting suits because they will have the opposite effect.  For example, tight form-fitting pants will draw attention to your hip area, which you do not want. You want the interviewer to always have their eyes on your face and nowhere else, because it lets you know that they respect you and are paying attention to what you are saying.

Hair, Make-up, Nails, and Accessories

When considering make-up, hair, nails and jewelry, you want them all to accent your face. Make-up should be natural with a bold lip color. “The” acceptable bold lip color is red. This draws the interviewer eyes to your face. Jewelry should be a one strand pearl necklace, big accented pearl earrings (bigger than a dime but smaller than a quarter,) and a maximum of one ring on each hand.  The necklace and earrings should serve as frame for your face. If you wear a ring, it should be worn on your ring fingers. Nails should be a well manicured, natural color.

Poise and Confidence in the Interview

When you walk into your interview room, be sure to wait for your interviewer to welcome you to sit before grabbing a seat. Be sure to sit up straight and smile. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm about the position.

With these key factors in mind for your interview, you will be sure to leave a memorable, positive, capable image of yourself in the interviewer’s mind.

To better understand Lisa’s tips, please click the video link. For additional guidance on what to wear for an interview, how to answer interview questions, and/or how to put together a resume, please contact the Embry-Riddle Career Services Office.

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