My name is Macy Riddle, and I am a recent 2020 graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor of Science in Spaceflight Operations and a minor in Human Factors.
Growing up I did not have similar dreams as most ERAU students. I did not want to go to space, fly planes, or study the stars. From a very young age I decided I wanted to be a part of the process, not the finished product. I understood that the work put into the finished product is what makes it all worthwhile. Whether it be researching, modeling or reporting, I knew that is where I would fit in within the aerospace industry.
My dreams came to light in the summer of 2017 when I started my journey at ERAU. As an unseasoned freshman, I had much to learn about the aerospace industry and all it entailed. I began researching aerospace companies to see exactly where I would fit in. I realized my research was not enough and I needed to speak to these companies face-to-face. I decided to attend the 2019 Fall Career Fair and my life was changed ever since. Table after table I spoke to representatives from many companies speaking about my experience and goals until I reached the last table on my list, Collins Aerospace. I landed an interview for the next day and before I knew it, I was offered a summer internship for the upcoming summer. I was extremely excited to see my career finally start. Although I was excited, I had no idea what the summer would bring.
In the beginning months of 2020, COVID-19 wasn’t just a topic on the news, it began affecting everyone around me. Friends and family began losing their jobs and once the stay-at-home order was in place, I also found myself without work. Feeling hopeless, I started counting down the days until my internship hoping it would still take place in person. With unthought of luck, I received my housing information for Cedar Rapids, Iowa and I was packing to leave my sunny state. I arrived in Iowa and got to work.
Working as a Management Intern for the Integrated Product Support team, I learned more about the aerospace industry than I could have ever imagined. Words like “contractual requirements” and “obsolescence” became second nature to me as I became confident in my role. I networked with many Collins coworkers and realized that Collins is where I wanted to begin my aerospace career. Still worrying about returning to Florida jobless, I was offered an extension on my internship for my last semester with a full-time offer as an Integrated Product Support Analyst starting a month after graduation. After accepting my offer, I was quickly promoted to an Associate Supportability Engineering role where I would use my skills learned at ERAU more effectively. I now reside in Cedar Rapids permanently with my husband and two cats.
If there is any piece of advice I could give future, current, or graduating students it would be that no matter how stressful a situation becomes, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel. Go to the career fairs even if you think you don’t have the experience to be hired yet, do research on the companies you are interested in, and take all opportunities given even if they seem little at the time. You may not realize how much an action in the process will affect you until you see the finished product.