Anagha Kshirsagar always knew she wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer. Growing up in Mumbai, India, the industry fascinated her.
“Ever since I was in sixth grade, I knew I wanted to study aerospace one day,” Kshirsagar explained. “My parents gave me a few books and encyclopedias on Astronomy and Aerospace and it just fascinated me. There’s so much that hasn’t been explored yet and space science always intrigued me.”
Another reason Kshirsagar was drawn to aerospace is its broad nature in research and technological innovation.
“It’s an industry that brings all different majors together – aerospace, systems, mechanical, chemical, electrical, computer engineering, physics, mathematics, etc. – people from various science and engineering backgrounds can work in aerospace.”
With a knack for math and science, Kshirsagar took vocational courses in electronics at junior college in Mumbai. Not many universities in India offered aerospace engineering as a major, so she chose computer science, something that feeds into all industries, and attended University of Mumbai. When the time came to attend graduate school, Kshirsagar explored options across the globe, landing on University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., a top 10 school in Aerospace Engineering.
Interested in Navigation and SATCOM, Kshirsagar studied Space Systems and Satellite Communications while pursuing her Masters degree in Aerospace Science from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She worked with peers on project ideas to send small satellites to space and establish satellite to ground station communication as SATCOM Lead on Projects.
Upon graduation, being on a F1 student visa, Kshirsagar’s plans to work in the aerospace industry were delayed. She started her career as a software engineer in the safety and productivity solutions department at a software company in Michigan.
Kshirsagar received her green card in December 2016 and quickly started exploring options to get back in the aerospace industry. A SWE member while at the University of Michigan, she started exploring more options with SWE and found out about WE Local Portland, one of SWE’s local conferences in 2018.
Check out our WE Local Portland photo album on Flickr.
WE Local Portland featured a career fair where engineering firms would be recruiting qualified job candidates right onsite. Kshirsagar noticed that a handful of aerospace companies would be present and decided to give it a try.
“At WE Local, you get to meet recruiters and have face-to-face interactions, which has a higher impact than simply sending in resumes online or talking on the phone,” said Kshirsagar.
Kshirsagar walked the career fair for two days. One of the companies she met with was Collins Aerospace (formally Rockwell Collins). Kshirsagar visited the booth, gave them her resume and told them about why she would like to work there. After the conversation, the recruiters said they would like to set up a phone interview with her. Immediately following the phone interview, she got an onsite interview, and was then hired.
“I’m so glad I made the decision to go to the WE Local career fair and give it a try,” said Kshirsagar.
At the WE Local career fair, attendees are encouraged to prepare ahead of time.
“Planning ahead and prioritizing the companies you want to work for is a good idea,” explained Kshirsagar. “Before attending WE Local, I did a lot of online research of the companies that would be attending the career fair. Having an agenda for the career fair will help you focus on your target companies and give you a chance to learn more about them and be better prepared to talk to the recruiters and engineers attending. ”
Kshirsagar also recommends following up. “Just giving your resume is not enough. Send a note via email or LinkedIn. Recruiters meet many candidates and when you follow up, they’ll remember you.”
When approaching a job search, Kshirsagar recommends having a focused plan rather than applying to hundreds of jobs.
“Focus on what the company is looking for and how much you match the job description. Job searching can be difficult whether you are just out of college or trying to change jobs as a professional. Don’t get impatient and frustrated. Gather information from networking with people. Don’t give up on your dreams and goals and never stop learning.”
Kshirsagar is an Avionics Systems Engineer at Collins Aerospace, working on Commercial Aircraft Systems. “I really enjoy what I do, it’s a challenging industry, and I learn something new every day.”
Kshirsagar is a member of SWE through Collins Aerospace. She is getting involved in her local section and connecting with other SWE members at her new job. She finds SWE to be valuable for professional growth and development.
“It’s great to meet other women in engineering and have a group you can go to and get more involved with,” she said. “Providing and receiving mentorship for professional development and being a speaker are some of the additional goals that I have in mind. I would love to sit on more panels or speak at major conferences. Right now I am taking small steps and getting more involved locally with my SWE section so I can achieve my goals.”