Christopher Higgs graduated from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering program in May 2011. During his tenure at Embry-Riddle, he completed three internships with Raydon Corporation, The Boeing Company and MWH Americas. He was also actively involved on campus with the Student Government Association (SGA), the O-Team, Omicron Delta Kappa, Sigma Gamma Tau and Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity: Florida Mu Chapter, among others. He is currently working for The Boeing Company, completing his rotations in the Engineering Career Foundation Program (ECFP).
Tell us about the Boeing Engineering Career Foundation Program.
The Boeing Engineering Career Foundation Program (ECFP) is a two year leadership development and rotational engineering assignment that consists of six different four month rotations that span the Commercial, Defense, Research & Testing components at Boeing, whilst exposing its participants to the various stages of the product lifecycle.
What has been your favorite rotation so far and why?
That’s a difficult question to answer. At the point of writing this, I have rotated through five different groups at Boeing, each one providing a fantastic and memorable experience. One of my first groups had me blowing stuff up (stuff being the technical term) with plastic explosives, which ridiculously enough, resulted in a patent application. Another group sent me on a wind tunnel test in Farnborough, England.
If I had to choose just one, I would say my favorite is my current rotation, Sales & Marketing for the North East Asia region. Now this may sound somewhat blasphemous from an engineer, but the Sales arena is truly a confluence of engineering, business and customer interaction, a complex relationship that I find fascinating.
In what ways have your internship experiences helped you to be successful up to this point in your career?
A career does not materialize from nothing; it builds incrementally over time, one block after another. A key cornerstone at the base of that structure is your degree, while another is your internship experience. The internships I undertook while in college were fundamental to my marketability upon graduating; I never would have landed my dream entry-level position in Boeing’s engineering rotation program if I was unable to leverage industry experience during my application. In fact, the Engineering Career Foundation Program only hires from the Boeing intern pool.
To continue my Jenga-esque metaphor, this position is yet another block on which I will continue to build my career…without key pieces, like internship experience, your career (or tower) is more susceptible to toppling over.
Do you have any advice for graduates who may want to consider participating in a rotational program such as the Boeing Engineering Career Foundation Program?
Jenga! Ahem…I will be continuing with this metaphor. Rotation programs are typically very competitive, and the successful job hunting graduate will have several blocks on which to build their application. Again, solid performance in one’s degree program is fundamental, as is participating in internships to build industry experience. A third block, one that I feel made the difference in my application, is nothing new or unheard of. In fact, the first time I heard it was day one of orientation, freshman year… and again every day since: GET INVOLVED!
Companies, like Boeing, look for well rounded individuals; technical expertise from your degree and internships is critical, but the differentiating factor tends to be proving leadership at a collegiate level. Whether that is being a part of the Student Government, on the executive board of a Fraternity or Sorority, a project leader for an honor society or some combination of the above, this experience shows that you can operate in a team environment and work with others towards a common goal. That and listen to Mark Lyden’s 7 Steps!