Student Spotlight: Robert Shely, Textron

Eller PDC Student Stories

Robert Shely

By Robert Shely

I had an internship working in healthcare IT the summer after my junior year. While the company was great, I knew that it was not for me. I had always wanted to work at an aerospace or defense manufacturer, so I began searching for jobs in about October of 2014. Originally I started by applying to a lot of the “big name” companies that everyone has heard of. I quickly got nowhere and had zero responses from companies. I decided my applications were too narrow a career field and I needed to broaden my job search. So, I met with Prof Robert Owen who helped me plan possible career paths and identify opportunities. He also introduced me to a former Boeing executive that reviewed my resume with an insider view, and introduced me to a connection at Amazon.

After another month and maybe 50 more applications later (I kept an excel table of all of my applications), I still had not even received a “no” from anyone. So instead of targeting the big companies, I did the opposite and began to search for small, unknown aerospace companies. I found lists and links and all sorts of information online. The nice thing about small companies is that you don’t have to deal with all of the online forms, and you’re much more likely to have someone actually look at your resume. Searching for a job is like a 3-credit class; you need to be putting that much effort in every week doing your own research.

I got my first interview in early January with a small parts manufacturer in Washington. They didn’t have any jobs open at the time but they “had needs and were interested” in getting to know me. At the end of the 5 minute phone interview, the person on the phone asked for my salary expectations. I told him what I expected and he instantly said “This conversation is over. Do some research kid, you will never earn anything close to that” and then promptly hung up. This really shook me up, especially since it was my first interview! But luckily, I had done my research and my current job offered me a salary well within my expectations. This just goes to show you can’t be discouraged by animosity.

Soon after, I contacted Pete Corrigan from Undergraduate Programs and he put me in contact with two Eller alumni at different aerospace companies, and also introduced me to a high up executive at a local A&D company in Tucson. The Eller alumni really helped point me in the right directions and the executive introduced me to some managers in his department. I also went to the Eller Career Showcase and made several connections there. By mid-March I had been offered two different positions almost simultaneously at the A&D manufacturer in Tucson, turned down the opportunity for a second round interview with Amazon, received a call back from a technology consulting firm out of state, and offered the position at Textron.

Almost overnight I went from having nothing, to multiple offers and leads. The pay would have been about the same at each company, although there was one opportunity that I probably would have earned slightly more at then I will in the position I accepted. That being said, it really came down to which organization I felt most comfortable with, and which job I thought would give me the best education and experience. Textron is an innovative company with a very friendly and open work environment. My gut told me to go with Textron because it just seemed “right”. This position will allow me to work with accountants, programmers, engineers, and upper management and I look forward to starting soon!

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