Welcome to the STEM Career Highlight Series, which is a Q&A series showcasing the people of Hughes and the STEM path they took to jumpstart their careers and get to where they are today. Through sharing these experiences, we hope to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders and instill in them the same enthusiasm and passion our employees have for what they do.
This week, we’re talking to Riya, a full-time engineer with a real passion for helping others.
What got you interested in STEM?
My older sister was actually my inspiration, but even as a child I was always curious and wanted to know how things worked.
Did you study STEM in school?
Yes, I moved from India in 2014 to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMBC), where I majored in computer science. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in computer science at Georgia Tech.
How long have you been working for Hughes?
I started at Hughes as an intern and I’ve been working full-time for a little over two years. Most recently, I joined the Service Delivery Group where I’m responsible for monitoring the performance of the business services that power HughesNet, including ordering systems, billing systems, and installer support systems.
Do you remember a situation where you’ve gone above and beyond to get the job done?
In 2018, I helped support the launch of HughesNet Latin America as we introduced our satellite Internet service in Chile, Ecuador and Peru. I had the opportunity to assist the team that was setting up the business processes, like ordering and billing, to support the new offerings. It is an incredible and empowering feeling to know I helped play a small role in helping people get online who otherwise would be unconnected—even two years and tens of thousands of customers later.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
I would not be where I am today if I did not have mentors at UMBC who helped foster my STEM career path. My mentors there influenced my decision to become a mentor as an alumnus to aspiring women in STEM. I enjoy being able to support and encourage others, and even offer some advice along the way.
What advice would you give to people just starting out in their careers?
My advice to anyone starting a career in STEM is for them to find the area of STEM they are most passionate about and pursue classes and internships around that focus area. “STEM” is such a broad category and focusing on one aspect can make it less daunting. It’s also important to be aware that your career in STEM will be different from your classroom experience. That was an interesting revelation for me when I realized that the “real life” application of what I learned was not the same as what we did in the classroom. I had to be flexible and adaptable. Finally, communication is an important skill to have both in school and after, whether working with a team or working on a project on your own – you have to be able to express your ideas and listen to feedback – no matter what career you choose.