Megan McClarty graduated in 2016 with an MEng degree in Material Science. She currently works at Lam Research as a data engineer, where her and her team are currently building data visualization tools that will help engineers and analysts quickly export metrology data. We spoke with Megan about her personal tips for current students as well as what life is like after graduating from The Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership.
Do you have any advice for current Berkeley MEng students?
My advice would be to remember to spend some time on job application preparation and the job search, even in the midst of course and Capstone work. Time flies during the program and it’s nice to feel ahead of the curve on that aspect. Also, make ample use of the university facilities — I really miss being able to hit up the gym on a lunch hour or head out to the fire trails in the morning. There are also student discounts for things like conferences and seminars that don’t exist after graduation — tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt, for example!
What did you do after graduation?
I took a job as a Semiconductor Process Engineer in a rotational program at Lam Research and moved to Portland, Oregon, to start working at a customer site. After six months, I was transferred back to the Bay Area and am currently working as a Data Engineer.
What are you currently working on?
Our team is building internal data visualization tools for integration with a Hadoop framework, allowing engineers and analysts to quickly retrieve, trend and export relevant process and metrology data. My job mostly consists of pipeline optimization and UI development.
What do you miss about being a student at the Fung Institute?
I miss the general camaraderie among the students, as well as the feeling of excitement and potential that came with all the ideas being shared and discussed on campus. The Fung Institute truly has its finger on the pulse of what’s trending in tech and engineering, both in the Bay Area and around the world, and you really feel at the center of the action.
What have you found most rewarding about the work you’re currently doing?
I’m gratified to be part of a program and company that has allowed me to explore different areas I’m interested in. I started off working almost entirely in the field and the lab; after working a bit on UI development for a side project, I expressed my desire to work more on the analytics and data engineering side. Not only did the company approve this request, they also provided me with the opportunity to take courses in Spark and Python to hasten my development. It’s been an incredibly educational year, and being part of the data engineering team is exciting, because it is a relatively nascent initiative in the context of the company.
How has the Berkeley MEng program helped you prepare for entering the field you’re currently in?
Most strikingly, the emphasis on presentations and presentation skills has been more useful and applicable than I anticipated. Particularly when presenting to customers, I have found myself drawing on the presentation experience I took away from Capstone and Engineering Leadership in trying to make my point in a concise and persuasive way. This was something I hadn’t been exposed to in my more theoretical undergraduate studies.
Do you have any advice for being a woman in the field, and has that affected you at all?
The one piece of advice I might have is just an echo of what Sheryl Sandberg expanded on in her book Lean In: especially in engineering and tech fields, it is really important to have a mentor within your field or company. Because this industry is so male-dominated, it is likely that that mentor will be male. I think it’s important that women feel comfortable interacting with colleagues and engaging in mentorship without worrying that their actions will be perceived as inappropriate. Take advantage of the experience that more senior people have and the knowledge they are willing to share, and be proactive. Everyone is here for the tech.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I recently bought an ex-racehorse named Bitcoin! An even less stable investment than actual bitcoin.