Ask any group of undergraduates on the SFU Mechatronic Systems Engineering program for a roll call of potential employers they dream about working for and one company will likely hover near the top of most starry-eyed wish lists. Cupertino-based consumer technology pioneer – and one of the world’s most successful corporations – Apple Inc. is a fantasy destination for many ambitious engineering students.
But for class of 2012 graduate Parisa Khorsand that dream has become a reality. Now living in California, she works at Apple as a radio frequency automated test equipment engineer.
“At the end of my SFU program, I found myself applying for a lot of jobs – including a software engineer position at Apple. And that’s the one I got,” she recalls. But her success wasn’t just the luck of the draw. In many ways, her SFU program had always been leading her to a sought-after career at one the world’s most iconic companies.
“During my undergrad, I did a really interesting 16-month co-op internship with RIM [Research in Motion] where we did a lot of work on radio. I liked it a lot,” says Khorsand, who learned to be a DSP test developer for the Canadian company behind the Blackberry hand-held device.
But it wasn’t just her wide-ranging Blackberry experience that prepared her for working at Apple. Looking back, she also thinks her SFU education – which included being one of the program’s very first female graduates – was a great foundation for her future career.
“The biggest challenge of working at Apple is that you have to deal with a very wide variety of subjects. But that’s what was so great about my Mechatronics program: it helped me learn and gain experience in a lot of different fields and areas. Not everything we studied applies to my job, of course. But that level of diversity trained me to have a much broader view.”
Although she’s been engaged for just a few months on her current job, how does she see her career unfolding in the years ahead? “I like where I am – this really is a dream place – so I’m planning on staying at Apple,” says Khorsand. “But I’m still interested in learning more so I’m also working on finishing my master’s degree.”