Undergrad: Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR - Chemistry
Internship: FEI (Thermo Fisher Scientific)
Current Job Title: Field Applications Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific
As I thought about my post-college life during my senior year of undergrad, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I felt like I had to get my Ph.D. because that was what my professors recommended, but something about getting my Ph.D. just didn’t seem like a good fit. Somehow, I stumbled upon the University of Oregon Master’s Industrial Internship program (thanks internet!) and it sounded perfect for me. The program was short and focused on setting students up with jobs at different companies. I was much more interested in working in industry than in an academic setting, and this gave me an excellent opportunity to get experience working at a company.
The intensive academic summer portion of the master’s program was fairly stressful. Things moved very quickly and there was plenty to learn in a short amount of time. For our first class, we started out with semiconductor physics which was a big change for me since I was coming from a chemistry major. The professors and other students were very supportive, and it made it a much easier environment to learn in. The hands-on learning was beneficial and made me apply what I learned in a working environment. We went through many of the semiconductor processing steps in the lab, and this really gave me a much better understanding of what the process is like than if I had just read it in a textbook.
I ended up doing my internship at Thermo Fisher Scientific (previously known as FEI at the time of my internship) in Hillsboro, OR. My division manufactures electron microscopes (SEM, SEM/FIB, TEM) for different industries such as semiconductor and life sciences. I worked in the applications development team, and my team was primarily focused on developing automated TEM solutions for semiconductor customers. I traveled to customer sites and provided training on their new tools, as well as provided input to the product team to support product development. The master’s program work in semiconductor processing was very helpful for my internship. Although I didn’t work directly on semiconductor fabrication, that understanding was really valuable for me to understand my customers’ challenges and to better support them.
I have worked for Thermo Fisher for seven years now, and I am currently a Product Manager. At a high level, I manage the TEM automation software products for the semiconductor group and define the direction and functionality for our software product. On a day-to-day level, I work closely with the software engineers, applications engineers, marketing, and systems to understand the customer needs and implement solutions to solve their challenges. I truly enjoy my job, and looking back to my senior year in college, I never would have guessed that I would be working in software product development. It just wasn’t something I had on my radar at the time, because I wasn’t very familiar with it. However, during my internship, I learned much more about the product development process and really found myself being drawn toward that type of role. To me, that’s the most valuable thing that the University of Oregon Master’s Program provided – the opportunity to get my foot in the door at a company, and to learn more about what I am truly interested in.