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Panel Discussions Offer Valuable Advice

By Benjamyn Lockwood

SPIE hosted several special events for Students and Early Career Professionals (ECPs) at the Optics + Photonics symposium over the week. Some of the most beneficial events were the panel discussions about careers in optics and photonics.

Career Choices
On Sunday, about 100 attendees filled a room to listen to six optics educators and professionals during the Career Choices panel. The panelists represented varying divisions of optics (academia, government, industry) and were able to provide excellent insight in to the current state of their area. Topics included in the discussion were:

  • Deciding which area of optics to enter
  • Tips for ensuring a successful future in optics
  • What’s hot right now in optics/photonics

Panelists discussed useful tips on selecting careers in optics and photonics.

Panelists on the Career Choices panel included Richard Youngworth of Light Capture; Brigitte Wex, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Lebanese American University; former SPIE President Malgorzata Kujawinska of Politechnika Warszawska; Marc Himel of Tessera North America; Sanjay Krishna, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico; and David Wick of Sandia National Labs.

Getting Hired
Later in the week, as part of the exhibit, there was a student chapter mixer that encouraged exhibitors to stop by and see what the student members are up to. The mixer not only provided an excellent networking atmosphere for the students, but also served as a great lead-in to the panel discussion on Getting Hired. Panelists from different areas of the optics industry offered advice on each stage of the hiring process. Students were also able to ask questions of the panelists. Overall, several topics were covered including:

  • How to make your résumé stand out (in a good way)
  • Résumé red flags
  • Skills that separate candidates from one another
  • Interview “don’ts” to be aware of
  • Globalization of the work force in optics

Panelists on the Hiring panel included Douglas Chabinsky of BAE Systems; Samhita Dasgupta of GE Global Research; Marisa Edmund of Edmund Optics; and Mark Martella of Ball Aerospace.