On a Tuesday afternoon, Fowler School of Engineering (FSE) converted part of the Swenson Hall of Engineering into a mock interview workshop. The mock interview were conducted by Panasonic Avionics, a company dedicated to providing customized in-flight entertainment and maintaining communications devices to airlines worldwide.

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During the session, Human Resource (HR) recruiters, hiring managers, and other professionals from Panasonic interviewed FSE students. Samuel Lee, FSE’s Career Specialist, shared more about the process leading up to the interviews and what it meant for FSE students.

“One of the things our students gave feedback on when it comes to their career and professional development,” Lee said, “are opportunities to actually practice what they’re learning. One of the best ways we can do that for any college or university is to offer practice sessions or mock interviews.”

Lee mentioned that FSE partnered with Panasonic Avionics in order to bring people who could give insight into the engineering industry. The company is based in Irvine, and Lee developed a partnership with Panasonic Avionics’ Campus and Internship Recruiter, Dakota Serafin.

“Working with her, we decided to establish some mock interview sessions with her as a ‘manager’ and a team of department leads,” said Lee.

Mock Interview with Panasonic employee (left) and Moises Lopez (’23, Software Engineering major).

The Panasonic team devoted two hours to around 12 engineering students. During the interviews, 2-3 students were interviewed for 30 minutes in different corners of the room. After 20 minutes of interviewing, students were given extensive feedback, providing for real-time improvement of their skills.

One of the benefits of large mock interview sessions, Lee noted, was alleviating the pressure and uncertainty associated with going into an interview. He said, “students get to practice without the pressure of whether they’ll get the job or not, and at the end, they receive honest feedback [from their interviewers].”

Lee, along with other students, hopes that FSE will hold a similar event in the near future. He also considered and encouraged the possibility to have students engage with alumni for future mock interview sessions.

The mock interviews also helped students network with their interviewers and peers as they gained professional experience. Moises Lopez, a senior software engineering major, was one of those interviewees during Panasonic Avionics’ sessions.

After his mock interview, Lopez said, “the feedback I got was very helpful, and even without the feedback, I noticed things I could’ve done better. The feedback helped reinforce and build upon that.”

Lopez shared his positive experience with the mock interviews and expressed interest in similar events with FSE in the future. He also suggested that if students were presented with the same opportunity, they should thoroughly read through the emails sent by Samuel Lee.

“Everything in the email was very detailed. There were lists of questions we could practice on, so it’s up to you if you really want to do well (…) it’s still a good experience because then [students] will know what they should’ve practiced,” Lopez said.

Lopez appreciated the format of the interviews and encouraged students to take the opportunity. He acknowledged that there will always be more things you could do to prepare but students won’t know until going through with the process.