Please introduce yourself, the year you graduated, and what was your major when you graduated?
My name is Frances Julian Gonzalez and I was born and raised in the South Bronx. I graduated in 2013 from the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.
What was your Syracuse University experience like when you attended?
As a first generation Latino student hailing from the South Bronx, it was hard attending a predominantly white school that was 4.5 hours away from home. Truthfully, it was a culture shock at first, as I had trouble branching out of my comfort zone. I joined several organizations such as National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE), and even co-founded the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) at SU in order to develop connections with people that I was accustomed to hanging out with back home. I quickly learned that in order to succeed at SU, I had to get out of my comfort zone and expand my network of acquaintances and friends. It was ultimately through my involvement with the engineering organizations and after joining La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. that I broke out of my shell. As a leader on campus, I worked with several other students to organize various events at SU and give back to the community. I was glad that I was able to not only grow as a person, but also as a leader. I am eternally grateful for not only the opportunities I was afforded as an undergraduate, but also for the life long friends and connections I made at Syracuse.
What did you do post-SU?
Upon graduating from Syracuse University, I accepted a full-time position at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of military and commercial helicopters. Sikorsky is also a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC).
I had the opportunity to intern at Sikorsky because I was a participant of the Igor Sikorsky Scholarship Program (ISSP), a highly competitive program in which I was accepted during my spring semester in 2011. The program allowed scholars to intern or co-op for the company during the school year or in the summer. My affiliations with the scholarship program made it possible to not only land a full-time position with the company, but to also make the transition from college to the corporate world easy.
Beyond work endeavors, I serve as one of the selected recruiters for the ISSP, which grants me the opportunity to interview and recruit highly talented undergraduate engineering students at different universities and conferences across the nation.
More recently, I have been working on establishing a mentoring program at a local Boys and Girls Club through my involvement in organizations within Sikorsky, such as the Hispanic Leadership Forum (HLF) and the professional Connecticut chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). I believe in “lifting others as you climb” and helping the next generation of college students to get where I am now and go beyond.
What’s the best advice you would give to current students?
Network! I was able to land a full-time job before I graduated because of the people I knew within the industry. I was blessed with the opportunity to intern for a Fortune 500 company, but it was because I worked hard to establish great relationships with the UTC recruiters at all the SU career fairs. My relationships with the recruiters helped me when I applied to the ISSP.
I also suggest that students start looking for internships as early as possible. As an undergraduate, I practically lived in the L.C. Smith career services office. I always tried looking for ways to improve my resume, took tips from Karen Davis on how to speak to recruiters, etc. The advice I received from Davis helped me land the scholarship opportunity, which translated into an internship opportunity. Companies are more likely to higher those who have internship experience.
Most important of all, take advantage of the resources you have at SU. You are paying over $50,000 a year to go to one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Study abroad, join clubs and organizations, explore the local Syracuse community…you get the picture!
What do you think about LANSU Scholarship?
As a benefactor of scholarships, I think that the LANSU Scholarship is a great idea. However, I believe that more alumni like myself would donate to the cause if there was more significant advertising. We need to pave the way for our future Orangemen and Orangewomen. What better way to help current undergraduates than with a scholarship to help with the financial burden of paying for college?
You can follow Frances on Twitter.
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