Below is the video and transcript of, 'Mario Perez - what led to Rolls Royce, Tesla, and Lockheed Martin'
[This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.]
My name is Mario Perez, I am a recent graduate from The University of Texas at El Paso I majored in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout my college journey, I served as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and also served as an officer for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
| What is your background?
I’m proudly of Mexican heritage, my dad was born in a Mexican municipality in Chihuahua and my mom was born here in El Paso but she was raised her whole life in Juarez. I pretty much grew up in that Hispanic-Mexican environment, listening to Mexican music, eating Mexican food and is something that kind of defines my character and is something that I'm looking to keep my entire life and coming into college, that’s one of the things I also wanted to continue is being a strong advocate for Hispanics in STEM.
| How did you get your first internship?
One of the things that I did to be able to get that first internship is that I got involved. I went to absolutely all the organizational events that I could and went to all these company Ted Talks and through these Ted Talks and info sessions, I was able to get exposure to what an internship was. I then talked to this one individual and he told me to go to a career fair, and I asked him, “what is a career fair?” and he just told me, “This is a place where you go and you bring a bunch of resumes and you dress up in a suit and tie and talk to all these representatives and intend to go get an opportunity with them”. Once I went to the career fair I spoke with these company individuals and I pretty much told him you know what I'm a freshman, I know that I don't have a lot to offer but you know what can I do right now set myself apart in the future? He told me, “You know what Mario get involved, become an officer, do technical projects, try to get an internship, just do as much as you can to kind of put yourself out there, keep your GPA up”. Once I digested that I was a little discouraged cause as a freshman I wasn't able to get that opportunity but I knew that it was so early on and I was going to be an opportunity later down line to capitalize on that and you know what I didn’t let it get to my head. The following spring there was a career fair, but that was more focused on local companies and it actually surprised me that not a lot of people went to this career fair to speak to these local company representatives. I saw this one company that didn't have a lot of people there so I went and I spoke with the representative, I gave them my resume, I told him, you know what kind of experience in plastics through 3D printing and he said it was not the same thing but at the time I didn't know that but I still showed a good attitude and at the end of the day I was able to get that opportunity. Little by little you know the experience I was able to get through that internship pretty much everything opened up the door to everything else. Once that happened, I came back the following year and I spoke to those same recruiters and I told him you know what I did an internship, at the time I was working at Walmart so I told him you know what I worked at Walmart and I was able to balance that job and do that internship and at the same time I kept my GPA up and he saw that good attitude and remembered me from that conversation in the previous year and you know that I think I was like the secret charm that allowed me to get an opportunity with them. So that's kind of the story of how that first internship landed and how that led to something greater in the future.
| What other internships did you get as a result?
Fortunately, I was able to work in Manufacturing in Injection Molding and it was my first internship. With that manufacturing experience, it allowed me to get another manufacturing internship now at a larger scale company. I went the following summer to work for Rolls-Royce and once I already had that kind of big corporate name on my resume, that kind of facilitated the whole process of moving somewhere else, nothing wrong with Rolls-Royce. I was able to intern at Tesla and I was also able to intern at Lockheed Martin which is currently the place that I am interning at. So really once I was able to get that small local company, I got the opportunity later down the line at Rolls-Royce. Having that on my resume and combined with my involvement in organizations with my GPA I was really able to use that to my advantage.
| What advice would you give an incoming college student?
I think the best advice that I could give any college graduate is to get involved. This may sound cliche but it's true because the only way that you're going to find out about new opportunities is to go out and seek them, to go to as many organization events as you can, to go to these company Ted talk, to go to these info sessions and learn what an internship is about and what it takes to get one and at same time you try to accumulate as much technical experience as you can, to kind of grow yourself in all aspects as a professional. You don’t necessarily need an internship to get that technical experience, at the same time you can work on projects. One of the biggest things recruiters ask for is you know what tell me what your project experience is. If you're able to complement that by talking about a side project that you worked on and showcase your technical experience there that is almost as equally as valuable to them as an internship so don't get discouraged that you know what if you don't get an internship your first couple of years that you won't be able to get an opportunity down the line, that is simply not true. At the end of the day, companies want someone that is coachable, someone that's flexible, that is always willing to learn if you could show that, a good attitude goes a long way.