When Omkar was growing up in India, he dreamed of studying in the United States. His goal was to earn a scholarship, get hired for an internship, and, ultimately, find a job working in Silicon Valley. So, after finishing his schooling in India, he started applying to universities in the US.
Omkar’s father was an electrical engineer, so Omkar always had access to electronics magazines. “I was amazed by how a combination of a few small components coming together create a fascinating and functioning device that solves a problem or fulfills a need,” he explained. That experience made him want to major in electrical engineering.
One of the major reasons Omkar chose the University of the Pacific is because of its CO-OP program. The CO-OP program would allow him to work full time at an engineering internship for eight months and receive college credit for it. This was a key step in positioning himself to achieve his ultimate goal: landing a job in Silicon Valley.
Gaining Real-World Engineering Experience
The University of the Pacific is known for engineering. In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal report, Pacific engineering graduates are some of the highest paid in the nation. The university also ranks in the top 20 of all private universities in the United States based on annual earnings.
In fact, Pacific engineering graduates earn more than $100,000/year on average during their first 10 years in the field.
That is because Pacific engineering graduates have the skills they need to immediately have an impact in their jobs.
“All of the technical courses I took [gave me] the knowledge I am expected to use at my work,” said Omkar. He cites courses like Advanced Circuits, Electronics, Digital Design, Microcontrollers, and Very-Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) Design as particularly helpful in preparing for his own Optional Practical Training (OPT) role.
Pacific’s CO-OP program also prepared Omkar for his OPT job. During his junior year, Omkar did an eight-month CO-OP as a full-time research and development electrical engineering intern at Abbott, a medical device company. He was part of the electrical engineering team working primarily on the HeartMate3 Left Ventricular Assist Device, a mechanical circulatory support pump. He also assisted senior engineers and other teams as project needs arose.
“During my work here, I gained experience with technology being used in this field,” Omkar said, noting that this experience helped solidify some of the knowledge and concepts gained in his engineering classes.
He was also able to receive feedback from more experienced engineers on his work. “This helped me improve on some of the other necessary skills an engineer needs to possess,” he added, including writing memos documenting results, analyzing data collected to draw meaningful conclusions, and honing his presentation skills.
In addition to his CO-OP experience, Omkar also gained experience as a student ambassador. In this role, he was able to sharpen his communication skills as he met with prospective students, gave them tours of campus, and shared his experiences at Pacific. At the start of each semester, his student ambassador role also led to him serving as an orientation leader, helping students acclimate to the university.
Because of Pacific’s ongoing support, Omkar was able to thrive and take advantage of the many opportunities available.
Seeking Out Support
For Omkar, support started in his classes. “The professors were always helpful and available outside of class hours,” he shared. “The small class sizes meant a more focused attention on all students and ensured that you were not just a number or name in the professor’s mind.”
Beyond the classroom, Pacific’s tutoring center is another option available to all students. Here, you can get help with specific assignments or gain a firmer grasp on a broader concept.
Additionally, Omkar found career services particularly helpful. As part of his preparatory coursework before starting his CO-OP, he received feedback on his resume. “I also practiced and learned a lot about interviewing skills that would be helpful to me down the road,” he said.
As he began to fill out his OPT application, the International Programs and Services (IPS) team helped Omkar verify all his application details before he submitted it. “Even after having received my OPT, I received prompt responses from them if I had any questions or concerns about my OPT. They have always been very helpful to me and helped ensure I was well-informed.”
“I also made sure to visit the career fairs that occurred on campus to take advantage of the networking opportunities available and to learn what (qualities) companies were looking for in a candidate they would like to hire,” Omkar added.
This preparatory work would set him up to land his OPT role upon graduation.
Landing a Dream OPT Role
As he was getting ready to graduate, Omkar had already achieved two-thirds of his goal: He had landed a scholarship to a great US university and he had received hands-on experience during an internship. Now, all that was left was to land a job in Silicon Valley.
Omkar used all available resources to find the right opportunity. He reached out to people he had connected with during career fairs to see if they knew of any positions or could refer him within their networks. He looked at job listings on websites for companies he was interested in, but ultimately it was on LinkedIn where he learned about the role he landed.
The role: product engineer. The company: CrossBar, a startup semiconductor company in Santa Clara, California — right in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“The first round of interviews involved talking with four other engineers I would be working with who were part of different teams,” explained Omkar. He then had a second round of interviews with different team managers and the company’s CEO.
With all the experience he gained at Pacific, Omkar said he felt “well prepared to tackle the interviews and felt confident enough to feel like I would be a valuable member making meaningful contributions to any organization I would be a part of in my capacity as an engineer.”
The CrossBar team agreed: he received a call confirming that everyone who interviewed him was impressed and wanted him to join the team.
And, in line with the Wall Street Journal findings of Pacific engineering graduates’ earnings, Omkar’s compensation is higher than the average entry-level starting salary for engineers in Silicon Valley.
His advice to other students looking to land their dream job? “Partake of the full experience of studying in a foreign country,” he stressed.
Omkar cited a list of things to do to achieve the full experience:
Try new experiences
Meet with professors during office hours
Join student clubs that interest you
Meet new people who do not speak the same language or share your nationality
Join events happening on campus
Seek out help when you need it
“It may be difficult to adjust to so many new things at the same time, and stepping out of your comfort zone can be tough,” he empathized. “But you have already taken the biggest step by deciding to pursue your education in another country! Since you’re already here, you might as well make the most of the experience.”
As for Omkar, he is taking advantage of the full OPT experience at CrossBar and hopes to continue working with the company. “My main goal has always been to work on new and interesting technologies that fascinate me and I would like to continue doing that. As for what the future holds, I shall leave that up to future me to decide!”
Discover UOP International >