A typical job interview question for new graduates is this: What did you learn in college?
Many managers are seeking a particular answer, broader than the particular skills a college degree demonstrates: “I learned how to learn.”
That’s certainly true for Rebeccah Bates, a 2016 Engineering Science graduate who landed a job as a software engineer at Lockheed Martin.
“I learned the strategy of how to get through and solve problems, which is what I do heavily in the workplace – problem-solving and debugging,” explained the Apalachin native. “I’ve been there three years now.”
Rebeccah chose a community college because she wanted to stay local and was unsure about her career path. She first considered computer science, but found herself drawn to engineering along the way.
“Engineering Science is more customized, and the engineering credits would transfer to the Computer Engineering program at Binghamton University. I wanted to be able to explore, but not waste time taking classes that wouldn’t transfer,” she explained.
Her favorite professors include Diana LaBelle in computer science and Thomas Grace in microprocessors. Professor Grace had an engaging classroom style that challenged students in a positive way as they explored the intersection of software and hardware.
And Professor LaBelle? “I loved her style. You could tell she cared a lot,” she said. “She pushed me to become a problem-solver and become good at debugging code.”
During her time at SUNY Broome, Rebeccah also joined a vibrant campus community and particularly appreciated the friendships she made in Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC), a non-denominational Christian ministry. The Engineering Science program itself also fosters connections, emphasizing the importance of student internships – in part how she landed her current job.
After graduating, Rebeccah initially wanted to transfer to Binghamton University, but found herself struggling financially. A fellow Hornet with an internship at Lockheed Martin ended up forwarding her resume to management there. She landed a job at a contractor first, joining Lockheed itself as an employee a year later.
Starting this fall, she plans to make that transfer to Binghamton University, working toward her bachelor’s degree with Lockheed’s assistance. She enjoys working on her team at the aerospace company,and hopes to one day become a mentor to others.
In fact, her life has come full circle. As an eighth-grader, she attended an Engineering Day organized at her school by Lockheed Martin; now, she’s among the team that volunteers at the event. Plus, she came back to SUNY Broome recently to speak to the latest crop of Engineering Science students.
“I can honestly say that my time at SUNY Broome taught me so much, but it wasn’t the formulas or the projects that stuck with me. (It was) the voices of the professors in the back of my head and struggling through assignments as the professor pushed you to push yourself,” she wrote in an email to Engineering Science Professor Robert Lofthouse. “Those learning strategies and problem-solving skills are the most valuable tools to have in the field.”