I originally started this blog to reach out to other women engineers. I wanted to connect and learn about their education and career paths. I wanted to grow a community where we can inspire and motivate each other. Being a woman in engineering can be difficult. Being a mom engineer can be even harder. So I love sharing stories of women engineers whenever possible.

Admittedly, for the last six months I have been completely focused on my kids and their education (we’re currently doing virtual learning at home). So my content has reflected this and all my posts have been about STEAM activities, toys, and books for kids. 

When Vandana reached out to me about doing an interview I was so excited. It’s nice to meet someone new (even if it is virtually), and learn more about her career journey. Vandana has graciously shared about her career as Optical Test Development Engineer Subsea Solutions at Infinera Corporation. Keep reading to find out about her interesting job! 

Engineering Emily (EE): How and when did you decide to become an engineer?

Vandana Arora (VA): Ever since my school days, I have always been inclined towards science and math. I opted for physics, math, and chemistry after high school and consequently decided to venture into engineering.

EE: What was your college major?

VA: I have a master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. My major was fiber optics and networking. I earned my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from India.

EE: What was your university experience like as an engineering student?

VA: My experience as an engineering student at RIT was extremely rewarding. The classroom teaching combined with lab work provided hands-on learning experience. I was fortunate enough to be awarded teaching assistantship and graduate research assistantship for up to one year, as part of which I got to work on different research projects.

EE: Did you do any engineering internships during college?

VA: I interned at Lumentum during summer of 2019 in San Jose, CA. I developed tools in Tableau for yield-tracking and performed data analysis to identify cause of wafer defects.

EE: How did you find/get hired for your first engineering job?

VA: I applied online and received a call for an interview. There were several rounds of interviews conducted and finally I received an offer.

EE: What industry do you currently work in?

VA: I work in the field of optical networking.

EE: What has been your career path from college graduation up to today?

VA: It’s been five months now since I joined the company. I help the team setup optical links in the lab and code software that simulates the link designs.

EE: Have you travelled for work, and if so how often and to where?

VA: I’d love to travel. Sadly, I don’t for work.

EE: Have you had to move for work?

VA: I relocated from Rochester, NY to Maryland after I graduated and got a job here.

EE: What has been your best experience working as an engineer?

VA: I build software that is used by people as part of their work and study. When I see someone use a tool that I coded, that makes me very happy.

EE: What has been your most challenging experience working as an engineer?

VA: Part of my work requires staying in labs for long hours and labs are very cold. I dislike staying in labs for long hours because I’m intolerant of cold.

EE: Do you feel women are treated equally to men in engineering?

VA: Personally, I have never experienced discrimination. However, it is important to surround ourselves with right people who value person’s talent and hard work regardless of their gender.

EE: How do you balance career and home life?

VA: I am workaholic. When not working, I choose to participate in constructive activities or learn a new skill.

EE: What advice do you have for girls interested becoming an engineer?

VA: Do not doubt your ability. Just work hard and stay focused.

EE: What advice do you have for working moms?

VA: I think motherhood should not be used as an excuse for putting one’s career on the backburner.

EE: Would you still become an engineer if you could do it all over again?

VA: Yes. But I would rather study Geology or Earth Science. Geology would give me an opportunity to understand the dynamics of our planet Earth as well as explore exciting places for field work.

EE: Any other information or stories you’d like to share?

VA: If you would like to connect, please reach out to me at va6042@rit.edu.

EE: Thanks for sharing your experiences and advice with us Vandana!

I love interviewing new graduates to hear about fresh perspectives on the engineering workplace. I am encouraged to hear how positive Vandana’s experience has been so far, with no discrimination or major challenges in the workplace. I hope this is what all new engineers can expect to experience in the workplace. 

Her positive attitude and enthusiasm for engineering is contagious. I hope all new engineers are coming out of college as motivated as Vandana! 

If you’d like to share your story on my blog, please contact me for more information. 


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