In our Alumni Spotlight series, we ask alumni to tell us about their careers and how their UVa experiences prepared them for life after the Lawn.

Meet Jessica Lin, a 2017 Systems Engineering grad who minored in Engineering Business. During her time at UVA, Jessica studied/went abroad 4 times:
 – Global Technology Practice (GTP) in Stuttgart, Germany as a summer abroad program in 2014
 – Spring 2015 Semester Exchange at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology  
 – Research Exchange at University of Sao Paulo during Summer 2016
 – Presented at the Society of Risk Analysis (SRA) Europe conference in Lisbon, Portugal in June of 2017 

UVA alumna Jessica Lin at Seattle Space Needle

Tell us about your career and your current job. 

After finishing my undergrad at UVA, I started in Amazon Operations as an Area Manager. I spent 2 years managing outbound operations for a apparel specialty site in Kentucky, and a R&D robotics site in Washington. During this time I managed up to 200 hourly associates through peak season, and helped ship millions of units to Amazon customers in 2017 and 2018, as well as launch a Women@Amazon affinity group in the Cincinnati area. 

UVA alumna Jessica Lin inside an Amazon fulfillment center

What does a "day in the life of you" look like?

In September 2019, I transitioned into a Program Manager role for Operations Engineering at Amazon. I joined the Configuration and Change Management team and currently oversee projects and change requests for 87 buildings in the traditional sortable, nonsort, apparel, and hazmat networks. 

How have your experiences and education at UVA shaped your life after college and your career path thus far?

All of the UVA Education Abroad programs taught me to take intentional risks and challenge the status quo. I am very passionate about disproving the stereotype that engineers at UVA cannot study abroad and graduate on time. I made lifelong friends from each one of those experiences, and gained an appreciation to try new things and set the goal of living in 3 different places in my first 5 years after graduating. 

How has UVA Engineering helped you innovate and lead in your current role?

Completing technical coursework such as Discrete Event Simulation and Database Design and Administration have given me the knowledge to work closely with engineering and business intelligence teams. Having a systems engineering background allows me to better understand the complexities when evaluating models to make business decisions. 

Tell us about an event, class, advisor, professor, or mentor that really impacted your career path/choices.

My faculty advisor had a critical role in creating a new research exchange opportunity between UVa and the University of Sao Paulo. Jim Lambert helped me get connected with the right resources to obtain funding and local sponsors to design a meaningful exchange which has continued to grow each following year. 

How did engaging with the Center for Engineering Career Development (CECD) support your goals and vision for the future? 

The CECD provided me with invaluable resources early on at UVA to help me choose a major that aligned with goals I had after graduation. The career counselors were extremely resourceful in identifying opportunities to expose me to different areas and think critically about what experiences I wanted to get from my undergrad experience. 

UVA alumna Jessica Lin with members of Amazon team

With your professional perspective, what skills do you think are vital for current UVA Engineering students to learn?

Communication and team building skills. A large focus of both roles I've had at Amazon centered around building relationships with various teams to execute projects or successfully manage operations. Being able to develop and promote others has also been a very rewarding part of my job. 

For current students hoping to go into your field, what are some of the most effective things they can do right now to prepare themselves for future success?

Seek out a diverse group of mentors to get different perspectives for career development. I established a network of resources affiliated with UVA and kept in touch at various decision points in my career. Their experiences and outlook helped me make intentional decisions and also support me to be more ambitious in setting career goals.