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Got my first job! Working as an engineer at Boeing in the Research and Technology Division

Got my first job! Working as an engineer at Boeing in the Research and Technology Division

January 28, 2021 at 2:15pm

Name: Juliette Dubon

Hometown: Miami Lakes, Florida

Degree/major: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Where are you working? Title? I've accepted an engineering position at Boeing in the Research and Technology Division within the company’s Space and Defense Organization. I start in August 2021.

How did you get your job? My time as an engineering student at FIU helped me land an amazing job at Boeing months before I am set to graduate. During my first year at FIU, I worked at the Applied Research Center (ARC) in the Composites Laboratory, under the guidance of Benjamin Boesl and Dwayne McDaniel. It was a great learning experience that first exposed me to engineering concepts.

I was encouraged to attend FIU career fairs, pursue internships opportunities and network with recruiters and other engineers within my field. This advice led me to land my first internship with General Electric (GE) Appliances at GE’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. A year later, during the summer of 2019, I attended the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Conference. It was there that I learned more about opportunities at top engineering companies and first interviewed with Boeing. That interview secured me a summer internship at the company’s Seattle-based Structures Core Organization. It was during this internship that I realized I wanted to work for Boeing upon graduation.

Since I had a semester to go, last summer, I decided to intern with Boeing again. This time, the pandemic forced me to work remotely, but I was given an opportunity to work in the company’s commercial Payloads Organization. As soon as I graduate, I will transition to an entry-level engineering position.

I credit my FIU education, the time I spent conducting research in the Composite Lab, the sound advice of my professors and the wonderful internships I was able to secure at FIU career fairs with my success. I am so grateful for all the support I received along the way.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job? How did you face it or overcome it? My greatest fear is relocating to a new city. I was born and raised in Miami, where most of my family still resides. I've lived in other states during my internships, but this time my move is permanent. Being away from family and friends is a fear of mine, but we are close and just a FaceTime or Zoom call away.

What surprised you the most about your first job? Since I will start at Boeing in a few months, I will share what surprised me most about my internships. Before my time at Boeing and GE, I thought internships played out much like what I had seen on TV and in the movies. I thought all I would be allowed to do all day was pour coffee and file papers. To my surprise, that was not at all the case. Both internships put me to work on meaningful projects and allowed me to collaborate with seasoned engineers. I was assigned a mentor, who made sure that I remained very engaged. I was treated like an actual employee, which helped me learn and gain confidence.

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process? The best advice I can give to any student is to get involved early and seek hands-on internship and research opportunities. Whether you attend career fairs, conferences or sit down for an interview, you need to stand out. Every engineering student will enroll in the same courses and work on similar class projects. Ask yourself, 'what makes me different? What makes me a cut above the rest?' Your experience will help answer these questions, so make sure to search for part-time jobs in the industry and research assistant opportunities as well as join professional organizations. FIU provides so many opportunities. Take advantage of them.

I've learned that every engineer in the world will take the same classes and learn the same material, but what will give you the upper hand is the experience you have outside of the classroom and applying what you have learned.

What does a day on the job look like? Each role I've held has been different. The beauty of being a mechanical engineer is that job roles and opportunities are endless. Whether you prefer working on a computer in an office or being hands-on in a lab, there are so many ways to explore this expertise.

As a researcher in the Applied Research Center (ARC) at FIU, I worked in the lab manufacturing, testing and doing computational analysis.

At GE Appliances, I was involved in product development, which brought something new each day. Some days, I was in the lab testing and developing products, while on others I worked on computer designing on CAD.

At my first internship with Boeing, I worked as a structural engineer, which solely involved computations related to stress analysis. At my second internship with Boeing, I worked remotely as a payload engineer and focused on end-user designs related to the interior of an aircraft. Every single position was different and provided new learning opportunities.

How does your job connect back to your coursework? I think it all connects me back to what I have learned at FIU. Engineering is a field of study that can be applied to almost all aspects of our lives. My coursework is the foundation for the work I will be doing at Boeing and beyond. It will forever serve as the foundation of my entire career, no matter where it takes me.

How has your transition from school to work? How do you balance your time? This is still to be determined, but I expect it to be both challenging and positive. Your level of responsibility is far greater as an employee. Presently, I am taking four to five engineering courses, while working part-time in the Composites Lab. The weekdays are busy and typically the weekends are dedicated to studying. I look forward to completing my studies, which will allow me to focus on work during the week and leisure, relaxation and travel on the weekends. It will be great no longer having to worry about exams or homework on the weekend.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far? One of my coolest on-the-job experiences took place during my GE Appliances internship. While working in the cooking appliances department, I collaborated with food scientists on the development and functionality of cooktops, steam ovens and air fryers. I worked on designing the product, while the food scientists tested them and evaluated their ability to properly cook food. Food tasting was part of the process, so the food scientists would lure us into the kitchen daily for some great snacks they had cooked using our designs. It was awesome!

One final note: I wish to thank Benjamin Boesl and Dwayne McDaniel for welcoming me with open arms to their research group. I wish to also thank Andrew Green at the College of Engineering and Computing and the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research and Scholarships (OURS) program for guiding me throughout my undergraduate career and funding my research. I'm eternally grateful for all the resources that FIU provided. FIU helped to make me the engineer I am today. I'm proud to represent Florida International University as a Latina in STEM!