The Aerospace Engineering Career Week activities offer students multiple opportunities to land a job in their field, but, if the experience of AE undergraduate Sandhya Ramachandran is any indicator, the most important opportunities are the ones students make for themselves.
The third-year AE student is currently one of 20 former Lockheed Martin interns hired by the aeronautics giant to recruit future interns as a part of the Student Outreach Squad (SOS) program. In her new job, Ramachandran will assist Lockheed recruiters throughout the year, on an as-needed basis. She's also landed a guaranteed internship at Lockheed next summer.
"It's really a great connection," says the Lilburn native.."I was selected, I think, because I showed initiative while I was interning. I created a need for what I was able to do, and they liked what I produced."
As a quality engineer intern at Lockheed's Orlando office this past summer, Ramachandran started by gaining mastery of a data visualization software, Tableau, so that she could create insightful dashboards for her managers who were trying to track the source and origin of manufacturing defects. During the second half of the internship, she was shifted to the factory floor, where she worked directly with engineers.
"I saw that there was a problem with documenting the defects, so I learned SQL and created a software program to track the number of cases opened, the number closed, and issue a report at the end," says Ramachandran. "The program allowed them to track what was happening and assign resources more efficiently to address the problems."
No one assigned her to this task, and that's probably what made the difference when she applied for a highly competitive SOS slot.
"What my Lockheed managers saw -- and I think what any manager wants to see - is initiative: the ability to put yourself in a situation where you may not be comfortable and still find a solution," she said. "In my case, I created my own niche in the company by creating a tool that the quality engineering department could use to be accountable."
Ramachandran will be looking for those same traits in students who want to work or intern at Lockheed Martin.
"I'll be holding info sessions and talking to students about the company culture and the opportunities," she said. "If I think someone's a good fit, I'll be talking to HR about them."
She'll also be attending the Career Fair and Expo this week, because "at the end of the day, you need to get practice talking to recruiters."
Ultimately, Ramachandran sees herself working int he field of space exploration, focusing on areas where processes can be made more efficient. Whether that translates to a position at Lockheed Martin or at NASA, she is clear about one thing:
"You won't always be told what to do or how to get ahead, so the best career advice is to work hard, ask lots of questions, and look for that one opportunity to improve the work of your team."