William Redmond, 27, is an electrical engineer with the Core Avionics Division of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Redmond is responsible for providing engineering support and technical recommendations to program management for the communications systems on the United States Marine Corpís H-1 helicopter.
He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Morgan State University, and a master's of business administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Redmond spoke to USBE&IT about how he got hired at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference.
USBE&IT: What year, or years, did you attend the BEYA STEM job fair?
William Redmond: I attended my first BEYA STEM job fair in 2005 while pursuing an associate degree in engineering at Baltimore City Community College, and also in February 2008 during my senior year at Morgan State University. During that career fair, I was recruited by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and extended a job offer shortly afterward.
USBE&IT: What expectations did you have about the job fair, and were they met?
William Redmond: For my first career fair I did not know what to expect, but BEYA set the bar high for career fairs to follow. I was overwhelmed with the number of corporations and government organization that participated in the job fair. Not only were they there to just take resumes, but there were companies there conducting interviews on site.
USBE&IT: What was it about your employer that attracted you?
William Redmond: NAVAIR attracted me because I was very interested in the work that civilian employees do on the Navy and Marine Corps aircraft platforms. I was able to interview with NAVAIR at the job fair and meet people in leadership positions within the organization. After talking with them about the entry-level programs, mentoring opportunities, and opportunities for continuing education I felt very confident that working for them would be a great choice for starting my career.
USBE&IT: What do you wish you knew as a student prior to attending the job fair?
William Redmond: The honors program director at Baltimore City Community College prepared me very well for the job fair. The program placed us in seminars that taught about dressing for business, appropriate greetings, business protocol, and provided other helpful tips to prepare us.
USBE&IT: If you knew then what you know now how might you have changed your academic focus as a student to fit your employer/sector?
William Redmond: As a student I would have continued to focus on the electrical engineering theory, but placed more emphasis on its application. I would have also taken advantage of the project management and other soft-skill courses because as engineers we are trained to think logically and solve problems, but sometimes we donít develop all of the soft skills necessary for the workplace.
USBE&IT: What must-have advice do you have for students before they attend the BEYA job fair?
William Redmond: I would tell students to understand what is and isnít professional business and business etiquette. Before candidates begin to speak they are already making an impression by their appearance and the way that they carry themselves. The second piece is to be prepared by researching the companies that will be recruiting. What is on their mission statements? What are the products and product areas that they focus on, and have questions ready for the recruiter or interviewer.
USBE&IT: What information do you think students might want at the job fair that wasnít available?
William Redmond: When I attended the job fair I felt that everything was well planned. Since I have graduated from college, smartphones have become popular and common and I think that students at the job fair will benefit from mobile applications such as a BEYA STEM Guidebook to provide them with updated schedule and location information about the conference.
USBE&IT: What has been your proudest professional achievement at your organization?
William Redmond: My proudest professional achievement at my organization was being selected for the Modern Day Technology Leader Achievement award at BEYA STEM.
USBE&IT: What sector publications do you always read or consult?
William Redmond: I read US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine, the National Society of Black Engineers magazine, and IEEE Spectrum.
USBE&IT: What do you think are the emerging career opportunities in your sector?
William Redmond: They include the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, and there has been a lot of investment in unmanned technology.
NAVAIR was created in 1966 as the successor to the Navyís Bureau of Naval Weapons. NAVAIR supports naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems in research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.