ClearanceJobs recently sat down with Northrop Grumman engineers Haylea Rheams, Emily Marvich and Sara Banadaki. They shared stories about how they got into engineering, the role that Northrop Grumman has played in their careers, and what the next generation should consider when pursuing STEM careers.
THE HURDLES OF ENGINEERING
Every career journey is different. Some have a very straight path, while others may not have such a direct route. For Haylea, Emily and Sara, they each had someone in their life to help guide them and push their interest and desire to pursue engineering. Whether it was a parent, school, or another prominent figure, they were emphatic that young girls notice women in STEM careers. Having strong role models and access to technology at a young age played a key role in defining their own career paths.
Sara pointed out that, via her path, she’s been excited to see engineers playing an essential role in many devices, from hardware to software. While she’s sometimes found it challenging to be a trailblazer, the work is rewarding. Haylea says, “My advice is to stay determined and embrace the uncomfortable situations….once we stop challenging ourselves, we stop learning.”
Emily explained the hurdle of pushing past “imposter syndrome,” sometimes with the help of a mentor. Mentors within Northrop Grumman not only act as strong role models, but Emily noted that they also gave her access to other female engineers who helped her move past the feelings that she didn’t belong at the table.
Sara explained that after seeing so many other successful women in engineering at Northrop Grumman, she felt her confidence grow when she heard, “stories of successful managers – they started the same way I started. They doubted their abilities the same way I did.” She said that with the support around her, she was able to overcome imposter syndrome through her communication with executive management at Northrop Grumman and that “helping you learn to trust yourself is normal.”
THE NORTHROP GRUMMAN EXPERIENCE
Northrop Grumman strives to provide employees with the opportunity to get right to work, but also make adjustments as their career progresses. The company is committed to personal development – a game-changer for attracting and retaining talent. Supportive management is critical not only to personnel development, but also for organizational success.
This past year tested everyone’s mettle. Emily said it’s been an interesting year, but despite traditionally working day-to-day in person, “the ability of my team to adapt with the changing circumstances, work together – that’s what I love about Northrop Grumman. Every single one of our employees is so smart and such great communicators, very open-minded. It could have been disastrous, but instead, it was really smooth.”
NORTHROP GRUMMAN EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS (ERGS)
Northrop Grumman provides many ways to keep its employees growing, engaged and connected especially through their 13 ERGs. These ERGS provide distinct benefits for not only the members, but also the company.
The company’s diverse ERGs empower employees to keep collaborating and growing with the help and support of one another. Through the groups, employees can take on everything from community project volunteers to mentoring to unique team building group events. But most importantly, the groups serve as a resource, especially when it’s easy to feel alone as a woman in engineering or as a person just starting their career. The ERGS provide a way for people to connect with others within the company. While each personal story differs, the theme is the same. The ERGs within Northrop Grumman have helped to shape careers and provide a sense of connectivity within the organization and the community.
Sara says, “One of my greatest experiences has been being a part of ERGs….Girls in middle school – that’s the beginning of when they start making decisions and they really need to look up to a role model. We were able to provide some project opportunities to middle school and high school students in my community. That was one of my proudest moments…letting them experience how engineering works.”
LOOKING TO YOUR PAST SELF
Haylea wishes she could tell her past self to “ask more questions.” She found that as a young engineer, she didn’t want to ask questions that made her seem like she wasn’t knowledgeable. But now, she realizes that holding herself back could make her seem uninterested or detached. Today, she’s less worried about how others perceive her questions and more interested in being engaged in her work as an engineer at Northrop Grumman.
If you have young girls in your life, encourage them to explore a STEM career – it could lead them on a path to a company like Northrop Grumman – where people are making a difference and Defining Possible every day.
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