Recent Alumni Spotlight: Chris Scheffler
August 07, 2012
Chris, originally from Eureka, California, graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2010 with a degree in Physics and Computer Science / Mathematics. Currently working in the high-tech area of Silicon Valley, he still finds time for life outside work. He enjoys spending time with his friends and family, camping and being outdoors, and homebrewing in his spare time.
Center for Career and Community Engagement: Where are you working? Describe a typical work day.
Chris Scheffler: I have been working at Intel Corporation for a little over a year and a half now, first as an intern and now as a Circuit Edit Technology Development Engineer. As the newest member in a small group (5-10 people), I have my hands involved with everything we do. That means every day is different. Some days I’m in a lab doing hands on development work, while other days I’m off site meeting with other groups or external vendors and everything in between. I spend lots of time planning experiments, carrying them out, analyzing the data, presenting the material, and researching emerging technologies. My wide range of responsibilities keeps the job new and interesting.
3CE: How did you find out about this opportunity?
CS: After graduating from Lewis & Clark, I worked an internship at FEI Company in Hillsboro, OR. There I learned about Focused Ion Beams, Scanning Electron Microscopes, and other particle beam systems. I had the good fortune of collaborating on a project with this group at Intel and they appreciated my work. When my job at FEI was over, I was recruited to come to Intel and work for them as an intern. After over a year as an intern, I was hired on permanently.
3CE: What skills and competencies did you emphasize during the recruitment process that resonated with the employer?
CS: A very strong education in the foundations of physics prepared me for jobs I never even knew existed. Having the background knowledge to understand and learn about new areas of science and technology reassured my employers that with a little training I could make big contributions to the group. Problem solving was also key. Working in research and development, you often have to be creative and take risks, but also be realistic and calculated in your decisions.
3CE: How has your liberal arts education prepared you for life beyond college?
CS: I believe my liberal arts education put the focus on me as a person, not just me as a scientist. A well-rounded education at school and off-campus taught me to be successful in work and my personal life. I might have my job because of my science background, but other skills such as writing, communicating with others, and public speaking are almost just as important.
3CE: What would you tell students, if anything, about 3CE? How, if at all, did 3CE help prepare you for this opportunity?
CS: 3CE actually had a hand in helping me secure my internship at FEI Company right after college. You never know if there are similar opportunities in your field, but it never hurts to try. Take advantage of all your available resources from resume help to career counseling. They are there to help you and genuinely want to see you succeed.
3CE: What roadblocks did you encounter along the way?
CS: In a tough job market like today, it often is the case that who you know is more important than who you are. I am very fortunate to have the job I have today. Although I was hired based on my skills and experience, already knowing the employers played a huge part in my hiring. So don’t overlook networking. Most people absolutely hate it, myself included, but it’s part of the game. It never hurts to have a connection at that company you’re trying to work for. Also, relocation might have to be an option. I absolutely love Portland. I did everything I could to find the job I wanted there, but in the end that didn’t work out. My willingness to move to a new area and compromise put me in the position to gain the job I have today and I don’t regret my decision at all.
3CE: Who was your support along your career path?
CS: My friends and family have always been there for me. The transition from college to permanent (enjoyable) employment can be very difficult. Everyone needs someone to encourage and assist them when the times get tough and to celebrate with when the times are good.