By Ed Brennen
As an overflow crowd of students packed the Saab ETIC’s Perry Atrium, the air of anticipation was palpable. The attraction? A chance to learn about internships and co-op opportunities with Telsa, entrepreneur Elon Musk’s California-based automotive and energy company.
But it’s not easy to get a Tesla employee, let alone several, to make the cross-country trip to campus to recruit students.
Which is why Career Services tried something new: hosting five of the company’s employees, including UML alum Nicole (Sambursky) Falotico ’11, for an interactive video conference that was live streamed on the Perry Atrium’s new 6-foot-tall video wall.
The presentation proved a hit, drawing nearly 170 students from a cross-section of disciplines, including engineering, computer science, business and the humanities. Those who didn’t arrive in time for a seat watched from the atrium hallway.
“This was really helpful. I was very impressed,” said senior mechanical engineering major William Hennessy, a self-described “car guy” who applied for a co-op at Tesla a year ago. He landed a six-month co-op at Nova Biomedical in Billerica instead, where he got valuable experience on the manufacturing floor. He’s hoping to parlay that experience into a second co-op at Tesla.
Hearing Falotico talk about her work as a project manager for service software tools and technical service operations at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif., where she’s been for nearly three years, gave Hennessy hope.
“It’s really cool that someone from UMass Lowell is working at Tesla,” the Andover native said. “Maybe there’s a chance, having that connection there.”
Falotico, who earned a master of science in innovation and technological entrepreneurship in 2011 after getting her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, is one of several River Hawks who have worked at Tesla in recent years, either as an intern or in a full-time position.
After working as a process engineer for a large conglomerate (RSCC Aerospace and Defense) and then a product manager for a smaller company (Jarvis Cutting Tools), Falotico told students that joining Tesla in 2016 was a bit of a “culture shock.”
“Things can change very quickly here, so you just have to be willing to roll with the punches,” said Falotico, who spent her first year and a half as a delivery advisor, managing logistics for customers in the Bay Area after they purchased their new Model S and Model X cars.
“At Tesla, they hire you for what you know and what you’re able to contribute,” Falotico told students. “If you’re able to prove that you’re making logical decisions based on data and feedback, then you can make a huge impact here.”
“If you’re able to prove that you’re making logical decisions based on data and feedback, then you can make a huge impact here.”
-Tesla Project Manager Nicole Falotico ’11
Falotico’s colleagues, who included Campus Program Manager Charlotte Corley and recruiters Kyle Clark and Chris Garinger, gave an overview of Tesla’s hiring process and offered students tips on applying. The company hires 1,200 interns each year, for both technical roles (such as computer, electrical and mechanical engineering) and non-technical roles (like accounting, marketing, human resources and sales).
When Jadhina Lu, a sophomore psychology major from Lawrence, saw the email from Career Services about the Tesla event, she assumed that it would be more geared toward engineering and computer science students. She attended anyway, and was glad she did.
“Seeing that they have so many opportunities for students in social sciences was reassuring,” said Lu, who had already applied online for summer internships in human resources and communications before the event.
Career Services asked each student who registered for the event to submit their resume in advance to CareerLINK, so that they could be passed along directly to Tesla recruiters.
“This way (Tesla) knows who’s from UMass Lowell,” said Asst. Dean of Student Affairs for Career Development Greg Denon. “It gives students a step up, so they’re not getting lost in the application process.”
Students were encouraged to apply for summer internships and fall co-ops on the Tesla website. If chosen as a candidate by one of the company’s recruiters, a student would then go through a series of virtual interviews, either by phone or video chat. For students who ultimately land a position, Tesla even provides relocation expense and support.