Embry-Riddle graduates are already in high demand, but a little insider information and coaching can help established professionals move up to the best jobs for their expanding skills. The Alumni Career Engagement program was established a year ago in response to a survey ranking assistance with career growth high on the wish list for alumni.
According to Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Edmund Odartey (’04, ’10), “We have a high placement rate of almost 96%, meaning that nearly all of our alumni are employed or pursuing further education within a year of graduation. An alumni survey told us that at about 5 or 10 years into their careers alumni were interested in advancing or changing jobs.
“The resumes and cover letters that helped them get those early jobs need updates,” he says. “You are an Eagle for Life, so we want to be a resource at every point in your career by helping professionals continue to grow and advance.”
The service is aimed at graduates with two years or more of work experience. So far, more than 300 alumni have worked with Assistant Director of Alumni Career Engagement Angie Engel. She also helps job-seekers position themselves by tapping our global network. “There are more than 774 alumni recruiters on the Handshake platform that connects professionals,” she says. There, recruiters post full-time jobs, internships and career fairs.
The average job search takes about six months. Engel says, “I typically have four to six meetings with clients reviewing resumes, polishing LinkedIn profiles, identifying networking opportunities and focusing on interview skills.” She also suggests participation in professional associations and career development opportunities to strengthen skills and visibility.
The job search is a shared process, with Engel providing resources and job-seekers putting in the time and effort. “The more they own the process, the more satisfied they are going to be with the results.”
Engel is a big believer in the “interviews before the interview” — informational meetings and networking. “People underestimate the value of talking to people who are doing the work they’re interested in,” she says. “It helps them assess the skills they need and also whether the work environment and culture are a good fit.”
Her close collaboration with high-achieving graduates provides Engel with models of successful resumes and presentations. Successful Eagles help each other as the network grows. “Clients that I have helped are often willing to help other people who are coming to me looking for jobs.”
In today’s marketplace, multiple interviews are the norm. “Interview readiness takes significant advanced preparation,” she says. “What stands between a job seeker and their dream job is typically a series of interviews — maybe three or four — by phone, by Zoom and in person, and possibly including a panel or presentation.
“You need to rehearse STAR stories,” says Engel. The acronym stands for a description of work-related situations, tasks, actions and results.
Support doesn’t end with a job offer. “Most of our clients have two offers. We help with the negotiation by providing insight into salary ranges and trends, and negotiation strategies.”
Over and Above Success Strategies
Aviation is a global industry, so Alumni Career Engagement reaches across borders. Engel has worked with a pilot in Honduras, a scientist returning from an assignment in Israel to the United States and a senior professional moving from Qatar to Dubai.
Some job-seekers have special situations that require a creative approach that helps them present their potential contribution to employers.
Dr. Kevin Poole (’22 ) made a career switch from academic life to business aviation. He had earned his doctorate in Spanish Culture, History and Linguistics at Ohio State and went on to serve as a humanities professor at Clemson, Yale and the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio.
He has been a licensed private pilot since 2017. After earning a master’s in Aeronautics, he sought help from Alumni Career Engagement. He is now a documentation and compliance specialist with NetJets.
Working with Engel, he effectively promoted his research strengths, multidisciplinary background and creative, non-traditional problem-solving as a resource he could put to work for the company, which sells fractional ownership in private business jets. He explains what attracts him to his new job, “As a pilot, I continuously seek to further my training and education in aviation with the goal of improving safety, developing new training methodologies and contributing to the more efficient use of the National Airspace System.”
Another highly rewarding success story was the collaboration between Alumni Career Engagement and Carlos D. Aguilar Velin (’17, ’19). He recently launched his career as a bilingual aviation consultant with the International Council on Clean Transportation.
As a job seeker with cerebral palsy, he faced challenges in demonstrating the value he could bring to employers. However, thanks to his belief that limitations are in the mind, and support from Alumni Career Engagement, he now puts his passion to work in his first job in the industry.
An electronic portfolio opened the door – and the eyes of those who are now his colleagues.
“I worked with Carlos to present several high-value school and personal projects in a visually driven portfolio,” Engel says. “This helped him really demonstrate the work he could do and his ability to share it with a team.”