Computer Engineering alumnus accepts position with a major tech company

Nick Vaughn portrait in front of leaves.

Nick Vaughn, a Computer Engineering Major who graduated in 2019 accepted a position with Amazon Website Services.

Nick Vaughn, a Computer Engineering Major who graduated in 2019 from the University of Pacific has joined Amazon Website Services as a Software Development Engineer II L5, in San Diego, California. Initially, Nick worked in industrial robotics at Omron Robotics and Safety Technologies, Inc., as an embedded software engineer.

“I have always loved studying software and wanted to make it into a FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and others like Microsoft and Tesla) company as a milestone in my career path,” says Nick. “In my field, FAANG companies represent the best of the best in computer science and have extremely low acceptance rates. They're the main giants of the tech industry. It feels very surreal being able to work in one.”

Nick found this position on LinkedIn as he was browsing for software engineering roles and was surprised to receive an interview since his qualifications were different from the position’s requirements. “I did not really expect a callback on that position because my background did not necessarily fit the kind of engineers they look for,” says Nick. “When the recruiter reached out to me, I was really surprised, and I explained my background in robotics. What I loved is how he explained to me that the key to applying and succeeding in companies like Amazon isn't to show you know everything, it's to show your ability to adapt and learn.”

As a computer engineer, Nick took classes that provided him with the skills necessary to be proficient in both hardware and software development. This provided Nick with options on different roles to pursue. “I never thought that I would be in cloud computing,” says Nick. “My previous non-internship experience involves 1 year and 9 months doing embedded systems. Now, I have a role in something completely different than other engineers with 8 years of experience in the field obtain! It feels so unreal. Sometimes I feel like it's a dream.”

“The Career Services Center helped me so much with my success in my career,”—Nick Vaughn '19

Nick says that Pacific’s Career Services Center played a key role in his achievements. Connecting with different Career Advisers helped him gain the valuable skills necessary to land his position.  “The Career Services Center helped me so much with my success in my career,” says Nick. “I had no idea how the tech industry worked or how to market myself. I visited a Career Counselor, Bailey Gutierrez, and she connected me with so many resources. She helped me improve my resume and develop a plan to explore different tech fields. She put me in touch with Alumni and taught me how to network online through LinkedIn with people I never met before. Whenever I had problems with communicating professionally or needed to think of ways to shape my resume for different positions, she was always just an email away.

“Another great resource was an advisor named Daniel Shaw,” continues Nick. “He helped me reshape my LinkedIn to be more marketable. Daniel showed me not only how to make my profile more professional, but also how to learn about my own field. With his guidance, I researched roles that interested me in my field and developed a list of key terms and skills that they look for to tailor my profile to them. I learned how to search for engineers with experience in the fields I'm interested in and made meetings with alumni to learn more about the industry. It's through these interactions with alumni that I learned the secrets to getting hired and how the industry works. Daniel basically taught me how to weaponize LinkedIn, and interview processes for information, a valuable resource in career finding.”

Thanks to his experience, Nick learned valuable lessons and advises students to never give up and learn from their mistakes in their job search. “Don't be afraid of failure,” says Nick. “Graduating college and trying to adapt to how the industry works can be really intimidating. You are going to have interviews that you study really hard for and fail because of your inexperience in the job market. You will apply for a lot of jobs that will never respond to you. It's normal. It's a painful growing process. I can promise you though, that if you are able to learn from your mistakes and keep trying to apply, you will achieve your goals. As long as you are learning from your mistakes and keep trying, you are never really failing. Obtaining knowledge is a victory in itself.

“Find people that have more experience than you do and develop a strong network,” continues Nick. “I love LinkedIn because it allows me to make professional connections that I wouldn't be able to make in my day-to-day job. I have connections with all kinds of different engineers, some that even have their own Netflix documentary or their own companies! In the tech field, networking is vital. Job referrals are key to making it past difficult interview selections. Keep in mind, Alumni are the most helpful people you will ever meet in your career. So, make sure to put yourself out there,” concludes Nick.

Nick began his new role with Amazon Website Services in October 2021 and is looking forward to learning more about software engineering. Career Services is proud to have played a role in his career achievements and wishes him the best in his professional career journey.