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Series: A Day in the Life of an NCG – California

September 21, 2015 | Life at Lam

In our final article of this series, five new college graduate (NCG) employees share what it’s like to work at Lam Research in our Fremont and San Jose, California, campuses.

At Lam Research, we are committed to helping bright, enthusiastic NCGs transition to successful and rewarding careers in the workplace. Now in their first jobs after graduating, NCGs working at Lam are truly enjoying their new positions. We caught up with a few of these busy grads to chat with them about their experiences and what they’re learning—and we’re glad we did. In addition to providing insightful workplace perspectives, their stories highlight the importance of decisions they made while in school and during their first jobs following graduation.

Below, five NCGs working at our California campuses in Fremont and San Jose share their experiences – a pilot manufacturing engineer (Harminder, bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering design, San Jose State University), product engineer (Miao, Ph.D. in chemistry, UCLA), supply chain business manager (Nichele, bachelor’s degree in microbiology, UC Davis), and two process engineers (Tomas, bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering, Washington State University, and Zhongwei, Ph.D. in chemistry, UC Berkeley).


What is a typical day at work like?

A typical day for me is spent working with technicians in the cleanroom to find the most efficient way to build parts and test for potential design issues. Later, I document our work and write directions at my desk. When problems arise, I work with the designers to help resolve them. – Harminder

My day-to-day responsibilities largely depend on project status. If a project is at an early stage, I spend most of my day in the fab testing hardware and modifying the process to really understand the problem. Once a problem is well understood, I brainstorm on potential solutions with colleagues. Near the close of a project, I spend time summarizing progress and updating the local account team. – Miao

My time is roughly divided between running experiments in the lab and compiling data, creating summary presentations, and sharing the results with others. Generally, I work alone, but still interact closely with the two other process engineers on my team. A couple of times each week, the hardware, process, and software engineers meet to discuss current projects. – Tomas

I spend most of my time in the lab running experiments to test the feasibility of new ideas. When at my desk, I analyze data, read papers, and write reports. Since some of my projects involve collaboration with university professors, sometimes my manager takes me to meet with our university partners. – Zhongwei


How do you like your job and the work you are doing?

I like working with my team and working on a variety of tool types, from deposition to etch. This gives me significant opportunity to learn. – Harminder

What I like most is the fast-paced, collaborative environment. – Miao

I like both the technical and non-technical sides of projects and the variety of activities, from working at my desk to interacting with co-workers, suppliers, and cross-functional team members. Because I had done an internship with Lam’s Supply Chain group, I wasn’t surprised by the range of activities; in fact, it was actually an aspect I was looking for in my job searches. – Nichele

What I like most about my job is the opportunity to work with a great group of people, developing cutting-edge materials that will be used in the latest semiconductors. I also like the flexibility I have to determine my work schedule. – Tomas


Is your job and the workplace what you expected?

What surprised me most is the willingness and generosity of my coworkers to share. It is this collaborative and professional working environment that attracts me most to Lam. – Miao

I am pleasantly surprised by the depth of support I receive from management and my co-workers. – Tomas

I enjoy working at the very frontier of research. It was not something I had expected for a job in industry. – Zhongwei


What helped you transition to the workplace?

While in graduate school, I developed the ability to work in a high-stress environment, courage to try new things, persistence, etc. These skills helped me transition into my career at Lam. Once I was at Lam, one-on-one meetings with my supervisor helped me understand the culture, and Lam provides many training, networking, and mentoring opportunities. – Miao

My experience as a Lam intern encouraged me to broaden my horizons, keep my options open, and take classes that helped round-out my skills. Also, I grew in confidence, communication skills, and analytical capabilities. By the time I graduated, I was better prepared for the concept of being a working professional. – Nichele

I was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor during my first of two internships at Lam who quickly brought me up to speed regarding the real-world reality of a corporate engineering environment. Also, my current managers at Lam work with me on a weekly basis to provide bigger-picture training. – Tomas

Learning to think critically and design experiments in my Ph.D. training was very helpful. I also learned to run equipment that I use today in my job. – Zhongwei


Why did you choose Lam Research?

I wanted an opportunity to be constantly challenged. – Harminder

Lam has market-leading products and provided more diverse job responsibilities than other positions I was offered. – Miao

I liked its authentic culture. While other companies claim to have open and honest cultures, it doesn’t ring true for them overall like it does at Lam. – Nichele

I joined Lam because I liked the team I met during my interview and the department performs very advanced research. Also, Lam’s technical advantage in etching and deposition will make the company a long-term leader in this field, and I want to be part of it. – Zhongwei


What do you like about working at Lam?

My work/life balance is what I like most about working at Lam. In addition, the work I do plays an important role in Lam’s relationship with its customers. It makes me feel important to know that the quality of my prototypes influence how our customers portray us. – Harminder

I like my coworkers – they are smart, humble, professional, and open-minded. – Miao

The culture and the people drew me to Lam. It is one of the few companies with well-defined values, where employees actually live by them. Also, employees are developed with a wide variety of training and support from team members. – Nichele

I enjoy working with Lam’s high-end equipment, which is built on decades of technology development. Not many companies have products that can almost literally move atoms and grow materials with incredible precision. – Tomas

I enjoy the collaborative and supportive environment at Lam. – Zhongwei


What advice might you offer other recent graduates on transitioning to the workplace?

Networking is the most important thing to do in order to get where you want to be in life. Also, working smart, more than working hard, will help you be successful. – Harminder

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially at a company like Lam, which fosters a culture of open communication and teamwork. Also, be flexible and adaptable. In school you have set schedules and deadlines. In the workplace, these fluctuate because needs are constantly changing. Finally, take every opportunity to learn and grow. – Nichele

Apply for summer internships. These are absolutely critical for learning about the “real world,” how companies operate, and what kind of work you will want to pursue with your degree. – Tomas

Understand the difference between industry and academia. Discovering something new and understanding it is sufficient for academia, but in industry, we need to go much further and develop new technologies into products. – Zhongwei


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To learn more about NCG opportunities at Lam, please visit the College Programs section of our website.



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