In this series, recent grads share their journey to landing that first job out of college. After years of studying and working toward a degree, these Panthers’ hard work paid off. Now they’re paying it forward by letting you know how they did it.
Name: Blake Gregorisch
Hometown: Miami Lakes, FL
Degree/Major: Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering
Where are you working? Title?
I work for a global technology company called Lenovo as a technical solutions sales engineer. I work specifically with corporate accounts, as the technical advisor/consultant. I’m pulled into technical discussions with customers to position Lenovo’s products over competitors.
How did you get your job?
I got my job after a lengthy interview process that started at an FIU career fair. Several more interviews followed over the ensuing months. Then, an offer followed a week after a Lenovo recruiter offered me a chance to do the final interviews on-site at their U.S. headquarters in North Carolina.
What was your greatest fear going into your first job and how did you face it or overcome it?
My greatest fear coming into the job was not becoming the asset my team needed me to be, and not meeting the standards I set for myself. So I decided to face this fear head on. I wanted to make sure I was prepared so I got in contact with my new boss and teammates a month before my start date. During that time, I asked them about the resources that were most valuable to them when they were just starting out, and what mindsets and behaviors I needed to emulate in order to be successful. I made sure to study the books they recommended before orientation day. When the first day came, the studying allowed me to engage in more conversations and ask more informed questions. As a result, the ramp up process happened quickly and smoothly.
What surprised you the most about your first job?
What surprised me the most is how cultures between companies can vary, and how invested Lenovo is in your personal success. Lenovo has a very open-minded and inclusive atmosphere. They believe their employees should feel comfortable and be happy to perform well. To achieve this, they have many amenities on campus (gym, free personal training, physician, billiards, nutritionist, therapist, etc.) available to all their employees so they feel that they have everything they need to succeed.
What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process?
Get your resume reviewed by multiple sources. Get engaged at FIU career fairs. Lock down your elevator pitch – get ready to sell yourself well when you engage with recruiters. Take all the interviews you can. Not only does this give you a higher likelihood of success, it also provides great practice. Ask your peers or professors to help you practice your interviews as well. What you know is important, but from my experience, most companies want to gauge how well you’ll fit in.
What does a day on the job look like?
I’m part of the sales organization as a sales engineer and we engage with large corporate accounts. I take part in technical in-depth discussions with the customer about their imaging or deployment strategy and tech environments. The goal is to leverage these strategies to position Lenovo’s products over the competition (HP and Dell). Sales is naturally competitive, so the sales engineers get engaged early and often so that we can secure the business of potential customers.
How does your job connect back to your coursework?
My education in computer engineering helps me discuss the subject on a deeper technical level. Some customer engagements get very technical when they look to Lenovo to pioneer new and interesting solutions. Very recently, I worked with an automotive company on developing a “streaming farm” using Nvidia graphics processors, which are responsible for generating photorealistic imaging, and our Lenovo servers. My coursework in networking gave me the knowledge to understand the bandwidth limitations of their design and allowed me to propose a working solution for them.
The more knowledgeable you are, the more credible you become. Being an engineer has given me a head-start in knowing what is necessary to be successful in my field and in this industry.
How was your transition from school to work? How do you balance your time?
The biggest change was the positive transition from school to work. School was a bit tougher making my workload seem much more manageable. As a result, I have more time now than when I did in school. It’s a weird feeling, because at first I would finish up at work, go home, and then feel like I had an assignment to do! The learning doesn’t stop though. I still read when I can and study up on industry trends, but now I have more time to play sports, strength train and make friends.
What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far?
I get to talk tech with people who are as equally enthusiastic about it. I visit customers like PayPal and Facebook and discuss their design and tech challenges. I also have the opportunity to explore meaningful solutions with the customer and stay up-to-date on cutting-edge technology being introduced every month. My job has close ties to Intel, AMD and Nvidia. Lenovo constantly pushes to innovate mobile devices, smart office, smart home and AR/VR space—and I get to be a part of those conversations!
I studied computer engineering at FIU because I love technology and I wanted to get a deeper understanding. Now, it’s because of that education that I’m working at a job that I love!