MEM is an independent academic program that belongs to both the School of Engineering and the School of Business. The students majoring in MEM graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree conferred by both the School of Engineering and the School of Business.

Q&A With Natiya Washer – 2021 Grad Hired by Senior Design Sponsor

“I got to interact with the assembly line workers all the time. That was a really great way for me to display my set of skills of working with people that streamlined me into this engineering job, where my primary function is working with assembly line workers in the company. So, it was a direct transferable set of skills that I was able to showcase during the senior design project…”

Hi Natiya and Congratulations! I was so happy Professor Calvert shared with me that you were hired by your Senior Design Team sponsor! Wow! Can you tell me about that?

Natiya: The company I got hired into is called Prysmian Group. They’re based in the Willimantic area and my senior design project was really unique in that I got to go onsite even during the pandemic. We took all the necessary precautions to do that, of course, but that meant that I really got to meet all of the sponsors and the workers face to face about every 2 weeks and it really helped build my relationship with them. When I heard that there was a job opening, I asked about it and I was actually able to skip a couple of interviews. It really helped streamline me into the interview process and ultimately get the job.

That’s fantastic! So did your other teammates go over with you as well?

Natiya: Yes, we went over as a team and actually, in the 2nd semester, one of the workers at Prysmian was just asking us out of curiosity, “what are your plans after college?” My two teammates had other plans outside of looking for jobs, but in that moment, I was like, “oh, I’m looking for a job! Do you have any postings?” And he’s like “yeah. Here’s a link. You can all look at it if you’d like.”

That’s great. It shows that there was some dialogue going on between you, the team, and the company and that there’s sort of an almost nurturing aspect. How did you feel about the relationship building process?

Natiya: On the senior design project, the relationship building process was really fantastic. It was nice from the very beginning. We set up a very open dialogue between our sponsors and our team and so it meant it was very relaxing and not nerve wracking to email them any questions or just having constant line of communication. So it was nice to have the setting where I was able to talk to the professionals in the field without having a lot of that nervousness if I went up to them during a career day or anything like that. It was just since I already was in a project with them it made it a lot more relaxing and I was able to talk to them more on a personal level than a high stress level.

Do you feel like there was anything specific about your senior design project that made you a natural fit for the job?

Natiya: My senior design project specifically was helping redesign parts of this assembly line at their company which meant that I got to interact with the assembly line workers all the time. That was a really great way for me to display my set of skills of working with people that streamlined me into this engineering job, where my primary function is working with assembly line workers in the company. So, it was a direct transferable set of skills that I was able to showcase during the senior design project which was why, when I went in for the interview, so many of the workers, already knew that I was fit for that aspect of the job. I just had to prove it to all the other people that were interviewing me. So, that was very nice.

That’s great. During the interview process, aside from being able to skip the steps and having them already know you, do you feel like it made you more at ease? Or do you feel like it gave you a leg up in any way?

Natiya: I think I got a leg up because during the interview process, there were some people who reached out to me who were my senior design sponsors and they said, normally I would be in this interview right now, but you’ve already convinced me so, I won’t sit in on the interview, but here’s some other people you haven’t met yet. And when I would call into those, it’d be like, “Hi, Natiya, we’ve heard so much about you. We’ve heard such good things. We’re just hoping to clarify some points or just have you elaborate on other ones,” so it was really nice to not be working off an empty slate. I kind of already had this reputation built for me that was very positive so, it was really more them validating and asking about some of this past experiences I had with the company already and then using that as a stepping point to go back into my previous internship experiences and resume bullet points.

Will your job will be a continuation of your senior design project in some way or is it a completely separate thing?

Natiya: So I’m getting hired in as a process engineer, and the job I’m hiring into is not a continuation of my senior design project. I’m actually working on a different part of the facility, but I’ll still be using the same skills that I use on the same design project, which is really cool.

So when do you start?

Natiya: My official start date is June 17th, but I’ve actually been lucky enough that they wanted me to come in so we’ve actually started a part time agreement where I can work anywhere between 4 to 16 hours every week to just shadow all my other process engineering coworkers – ultimately, just get more comfortable with the plant. On June 17th, I can hit the ground running and we’ve already done all my onboarding. I’ve already met everyone in the entire plant, and so I just jump right into full on projects. I have been extremely thankful that they offered the part time position to me because again, it makes it so much less stressful because I’ve had so much time to really ease in right now while the expectation is only for me to shadow. So, it’s a really great way to see exactly what I’m doing before I have to hit the ground running.

Wow! What a great opportunity! Did you have any different kinds of jobs in mind before being offered this, or did it change during your senior design project or at some other point?

Natiya: I’ve always been really open minded about what field I wanted to go work in. Prysmian manufactures cables, which sometimes people might think that’s not as stimulating as working in aerospace or working on assembling fighter jets, but for me, I’m really passionate about process flow, and process flow can be found in any industry and in any factory. So, once I was able to go in and see the factory and get a feel of the culture and what they were doing there, and just meeting all the management and even the people working on the floor, I realized that the company’s values aligned with my own and that’s why I was really excited about interviewing with them because they had all the processes I was interested in and a great company culture. And what more can you ask for.