Soaring Beyond: Kenneth West

MEET KENNETH! He graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Energy Engineering in May 2020. He is currently working as an Associate Manufacturing Engineer with Lockheed Martin. 

We asked Kenneth some questions, advice for current students, and how UNT helped him to succeed and SOAR BEYOND!

When you started at UNT, what were your plans after graduation? How have these plans changed? Since I was a young child, I’ve had a natural aptitude for engineering, taking apart everything from toy cars and TV remotes.  I even gave myself a dimple on my check as a toddler from falling on a screwdriver I was carrying around.  In high school, I decided I wanted to study mechanical engineering after participating in FIRST Robotics competitions, but I was unsure what I wanted to do professionally as an engineer.  I did know that I loved all things mechanical and would have a long road ahead of me if I was going to make a living out of it.  While at UNT I participated in Formula SAE, a Collegiate Design Series competition where students design, build, and test the performance of a real race car and then compete with other students from around the world.  It was here that I discovered my passion for designing high-strength, lightweight structural components that are found in many vehicles and aircraft.  Formula SAE helped me refine my interests and pursue a career in aerospace.

What advice do you have for prospective or current students as they decide what they want their next steps to be? Deciding the next steps in your career is very exciting.  I would recommend having something to distinguish yourself from your peers.  When applying for a job, most companies already know all about your major.  They are mainly interested in your character and your abilities.  For me, I spent every year of my college career on the Formula SAE team, so Formula SAE was the main subject of all my interviews.  Companies are very interested in candidates who have experience outside the classroom.  A good way to stand out is by joining and participating in a club, working an internship, volunteering, and getting experience in other creative ways.  The key takeaway is to find an activity outside of school that you are passionate about and that you can talk about in interviews, preferably an activity that is related to your career path.

How did your program at UNT help you to feel prepared for this role? The Mechanical and Energy Engineering Department has prepared me for this role through its fundamental mechanical engineering classes, industry-specific electives, and its support of extracurricular clubs and organizations such as Formula SAE.  Many of the professors have industry experience, actively giving advice on what is expected of professional engineers.

How did you find your current role? I found my current role through Lockheed Martin’s online job site from a networking referral.  LinkedIn and Indeed are also great sites to help find jobs but I would suggest using the company’s proprietary job site to apply to positions.  I would also highly suggest attending professional job fairs/conferences where recruiters from companies for which you’d like to work will be attending.

What was the toughest interview question they asked you? The toughest interview question I was asked was, “If someone in this room didn’t like you, what would they say about you?”  This question took me by surprise.  I had been in quite a few interviews before I got my offer, and I was using previous experience and interview questions that I had researched to get by; yet, I had never heard this one.  Part of being prepared for interviews is knowing yourself and your personal branding.  Employers aren’t looking for the perfect answer to these sorts of questions.  They are judging how you respond to them.

How, if at all, did the Career Center help you? The Career Center was the first place I went for information when starting my career search.  The Career Center gave me some resources and in-person help to build up and market myself, providing advice on anything from resume formatting to commonly-used action verbs to information on professional job fair dates and locations.

 Would you like to be featured in our Soaring Beyond Success Series? Email Jeanette Hickl. We’d love to share your story!

By Jeanette Hickl
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