STEM Alumni Give Career Talk
March 30, 2021
Four Grand Valley State University (GVSU) STEM alumni and students (three from the Padnos College of Engineering & Computing (PCEC)) shared advice about the process of graduating and finding a job with current GVSU students at the virtual ‘Work Like a Laker’ Conference hosted by the Career Center. Bashayer Alhanini is a 2017 electrical engineering graduate who now works as an Electrical Engineer at SoundOff Signal. Aaron Villafuerte is a 2019 statistics graduate who is now a Business Intelligence Analyst at Priority Health. Hannah Nyeboer is a 2020 product design and manufacturing engineering graduate who now works as a Manufacturing Engineer at Viant Medical. Matthew Shan is a current senior in the computer science program who plans to graduate in 2021 and was a former Software Intern at Meijer.
The panelists discussed their experiences at GVSU and the process of finding employment after graduation. A common theme was the importance of preparing for graduation by gaining valuable experience through interning as soon and as often as possible, and by joining professional student organizations such as the Society for Women Engineers. Each of the speakers highlighted what they love about their STEM major - and the wide variety of paths that they followed to get to where they are today.
Alhanini had originally wanted to become an architect, but after taking engineering classes at her father’s request, she chose to become an electrical engineer instead because she really enjoyed the faculty and content of her circuitry class.
For Shan, the decision to go into computer science was driven by “the freedom, and endless possibilities to create something that you want.” His love of computing was sparked by his gaming hobby, and throughout the talk he encouraged the students to find their passion and use it to find a career that they love.
Nyeboer was originally a mechanical engineering major, but after her first co-op experience, she “fell in love with the manufacturing side of [engineering]” and switched to product design and manufacturing engineering.
Villafuerte admitted that he didn’t have a lot of direction coming into college, but he was passionate about statistics. The people he met at GVSU helped him decide to study statistics, and in retrospect, he feels that was a great decision.
A common theme among the speakers was how the community at Grand Valley is very supportive of students. Shan said that one of the best things he did to succeed as a student was “finding other people in [his] class, and studying together” in order to help everyone in the group stay accountable for getting their work done on time. Alhanini agreed, and shared how she and her friends from the School of Engineering would agree to finish their work before going downtown together to enjoy the city of Grand Rapids.
The panelists also discussed their activities at GVSU outside of the STEM community. Nyeboer encouraged the students in attendance to pursue activities outside of their major, such as studying abroad or taking on a foreign language as a minor. She said that even though it took her five years to complete her courses due to additional activities outside of her major, like volleyball, she doesn’t regret the experiences that she gained from participating in those activities.
Another common theme among the panelists was the dedication of the faculty and staff that had supported them while they were in school, and the ways that GVSU helped to prepare them for life after graduation, such as through internships and co-op experiences. All of the panelists felt strongly that visiting the GVSU Career Center was beneficial in preparing for co-ops, internships, and employment after graduation.
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Visit the GVSU Career Center website.