My name is Ana Truong, and I am a rising senior in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach. I chose the AE aeronautics track because I have always been a huge flight fanatic. As a kid, I used to travel a lot on airplanes and I always demanded the window seat. I really wanted to watch the engine and plane flaps move with takeoffs and landings. Once I got to college, I immediately knew what I want and worked tirelessly to meet my goal. In my first year at ERAU, I came to a SWE meeting, and learned about GE Aviation Female Recruitment Leadership Summit. I sent in my application and lucked out because my application was one of 30 selected out of more than 800 applicants. I’m so thankful for the opportunities at GE, and I was on my first rotation as an intern last summer.
…What I did at GE…
During my first internship rotation, I wasn’t expected to have that much technical knowledge. However, I was still able to find ways to meaningfully contribute to my team. I looked at how to make assembly services more efficient by designing new features to an existing dolly that is used to store the slave exhaust nozzle. I also surveyed the technicians who use the dolly on daily basis to identify the features that they wish to change, then I incorporated their inputs into the design process. Other tasks that I assisted my team with was summarized design requirements and prepared presentations that would be used to guide MRO shops to follow GE Aviation engine testing specifications. All the tasks that I did in my rotation was very different but so fascinating. It was a really rewarding process to help out and improve even a hardware that ultimately will save time and money for my team.
I also learned things on this rotation that goes beyond just engineering. Even though engineering is very technical, these are those “soft skills” you need like effective communication and being comfortable asking questions that really set me up for success here. Every week at GE Aviation, I would meet with my team and deliver a quick report of what I did during that week. At first, the thought of having to speak in front of a big group of people was really frightening. English is not my first language, so naturally I felt really uncomfortable whenever I had to do public speaking. However, I was able to get over my fears and used this opportunity to advance my public speaking skills. These skills that I learned at GE Aviation prepared me well for my leadership position here at Embry-Riddle.
I have been involved a lot with Society of Women Engineers since my first year here, and I’m currently the treasurer of SWE. This organization has provided me with an extraordinary experience to grow both professionally and personally. What I love about the organization is the outreach events that will make a big impact on many young girls. My most favorite event is Introduce A Girl to Engineering Workshop (IGEW) that SWE hosts every Spring semester to promote the growth of women in STEM field. It’s a free, full day event filled with fun interactive STEM experiments that are designed to suitable with grade 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade female students. Last semester, I volunteered to help with marble roller coaster module, and it was very rewarding to see my students not only enjoy building their roller coasters out of pipe insulations but also learn about kinetic and potential energy through the activity.
SWE is also very well known for their national conference every year. It’s the biggest career fair I have ever seen and it’s the biggest gathering of inspirational and passionate female in STEM. There are a lot of workshops and hospitality suites. The two-day career fair went beyond my expectations! I was very impressed to see big companies like Lockheed Martin, Toyota, Google, NASA to name a few. There are plenty of opportunities for you to network and eventually nail an interview. For the 2019 annual conference, I was able to get 6 interviews and received offers from those companies. The conference is open to anyone majoring in STEM, hence I highly recommend everyone to check it out!
…Secret to my success…
I think the most important thing even for applying anywhere else is being able to talk about your authentic self. It’s important that you can speak truthfully about the person you are and not the person you want to be. It’s best if you could bring out your passionate self to talk to a recruit. I learned that at my first career fair, I couldn’t communicate my passion very well to the recruiter, and I felt that I was willing to accept whatever positions they could give me. I even mumbled on the simplest question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself?” Hence, I didn’t get any offers from the career fair.
This career fair (fall 2019 at ERAU), I was more prepared! I attended all the events that the Career Services coordinated and sought advice on proofreading my resume and preparing an elevator pitch. I came for mock interviews multiple times to get a feeling of a real interview and received feedbacks on my answers. I also asked for a list of common behavioral questions and noted down my answers for them; this had helped me cut down the thinking time in the interview since some of my answers could be adapted to different questions. I’d advise you to utilize Career Services and seeks helps from advisors because they are experts in career preparation and they’re always willing to help you succeed. Plus, it does not hurt to have as much help as possible in nailing a job interview.