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5 in 5! with aerospace manufacturer Northrop Grumman

April 21, 2011

Northrop Grumman logoWant to help shape the future of flight? For today’s employer 5 in 5!, we interviewed Eric Pearson, head of development programs for defense giant Northrop Grumman’s electronics division in Baltimore, Md.

Eric Pearson, Sector Director of Development Programs, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems

Eric Pearson

1. How did you get started in the industry? How can someone who is interested in your work get started?

My dad was the engineering manager of the AWACS Radar Program in the 1970s. I managed to avoid working around him and the defense industry until I decided I needed a job where I could make money and develop an important career. So, on March 14, 1984, I decided to meet my roots as engineer. I started at the bottom delivering data and grew to become the lead for the production antenna on the Raptor F-22 Program, and now I am fortunate to serve as the sector director of development programs responsible for developing and implementing new graduate rotation, internship and co-op programs for Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.

Designing the future technological advances in defense electronics requires experience and desire. I recommend college students seek the most relevant internships they can to learn and grow skills that will make them the most employable graduate possible upon graduation. Nothing beats experience and the knowledge that one knows where they desire to start their career upon graduation. The problems in the real world are far more difficult than the classroom studies; get the experience.

2. What’s the future of your industry or job?

Defense electronics is always going to be a major contributor to the future of the United States and the protection of the world. Many of the technological capabilities we take for granted today, like GPS, are because of government-funded development programs many years ago, and will continue for the foreseeable future.

3. What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?

Interns and new grads should demonstrate the following: academic preparation, relevant experiences, volunteer community service, student group leadership, Eagle scouts (or comparable experiences), teamwork, teamwork, teamwork, music or sports and excellent communication skills. We are looking for team players and well-rounded citizens.

Northrop Grumman at Gettysburg

Northrop Grumman interns attend a leadership staff ride to Gettysburg, Pa., where they walked the famous Civil War battlefield.

4. What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?

An intern should work hard, ask questions and develop mentoring relationships during the internship opportunity. It’s not enough to come in 9-5 and disappear when the ‘school bell’ rings.

5. Can you share a positive intern story and an intern horror story? No names needed …

Internship experiences can go both ways, no denying the possibilities. We had one intern who missed his first day because he did not bring the required documentation, took the first Friday off to go the beach for a long weekend and two weeks into the summer internship announced he was taking two weeks off for a family vacation. He ended up with the rest of the summer as vacation. On the other, more positive extreme, we have had a number of interns who have come back for multiple internships, really got involved in the work they were assigned, asked for more tasks when things were slow, and since have been converted to full-time employees upon graduation from college.

Want to learn more about joining Northrop Grumman? Visit their career site here.

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