Alumnus credits VCU as the catalyst for his success
By Anthony Langley (B.S.’16/MC)
Recent graduate Arzan Dotivala (B.S.’18/En) landed the job of wire design engineer at The Boeing Co. based in Seattle before graduation. It’s a highly technical job that involves developing the architecture for the wiring systems of aircrafts.
Dotivala takes over the VCU Alumni Instagram starting Monday, Feb. 11.
Why did you choose VCU?
I chose VCU for the engineering program. I knew that for me to be as successful as possible, I was going to need individualized attention. The College of Engineering was highly regarded, and their programs have an incredible student to teacher ratio. What truly impressed me about VCU was how easy it was to become involved with the college and the university as a whole.
In the span of four years, I would say that 50 percent of what I truly learned at VCU came from books and lectures, while the other half was learning how to prepare myself as an individual, professional and lifelong learner.
I am who I am today because of those who I came into contact with at VCU, and I’m truly grateful for the experience I had.
When did you know that engineering was the field you wanted to enter?
I knew I wanted to be an engineer from the moment I took a power drill to some planks of wood, climbed a tree and tried to build a treehouse. I’ve always known that I had an engineering mindset, and any other discipline simply didn’t interest or make sense to me.
Fast forward to entering VCU: I was faced with the tough decision of which field to choose. I selected chemical engineering, thinking it would be similar to my high school chemistry work. I soon realized that the two were not nearly as closely related as I thought. Unwittingly, I fell in love with the challenge and the curriculum of chemical engineering and in a sense, it ended up being better than I expected because I found that it touched the very core of engineering through the step-by-step process and mindset needed to understand how systems function.
What’s your favorite memory from your time at the university?
One of my favorite VCU memories is the day we toured the VCUarts Qatar campus as part of the 2017 Qatar Leadership Exchange. That experience made me so proud to be a Ram and come from a university that is so globally present.
Throughout my college experience I often thought about how our students compare to those at other schools, but as soon as I stepped into the VCUarts building in Qatar, I knew that we were a force to be reckoned with. Whether our students recognize it or not, [VCU] is a major player on the global scale in terms of research, art and health, and we produce students who are aware of real-world problems and are determined to find real-world solutions.
How did you land your position at Boeing?
I was fortunate enough to be offered my current job before graduation. The opportunity came from a career fair/conference, the BEYA STEM conference, that a good friend, Fred Williams (B.S.’17/En), told me about. He graduated the year before I did and suggested I attend the conference because he had success at the conference the previous year. He also took my resume and tore it to shreds.
We started from scratch and discussed conversational tips for networking, and he took the time to help me build myself as a strong candidate, so when I attended the conference my first impression would make a difference.
I 100 percent recommend talking with others about professional development, how they created a postgrad plan and going to conferences. If it wasn’t for the support and knowledge given to me by others, I wouldn’t be where I am today so don’t be afraid to ask questions and listen to people’s stories.
When it comes to actually conversing with employers, be honest and interested in what you are hearing and discussing. There’s no magic recipe, simply treat the situation as a conversation you would like to have with anybody about job opportunities. Those looking to hire you want to make sure that their job is as much of a fit for you as you are for them.
What’s your typical work day like?
Often my day is defined by solving new issues and addressing needs for our team. We most often work to design wire configurations that will be placed into production. If, for some reason, wiring is damaged in the process of installation, we sometimes need to assist with testing and confirming that the fix is safe for use.
Solving problems aside, usually the most exciting part of my day is when I have the opportunity to listen to stories from my co-workers and learn from them. All of my teammates are giants in their field, and it is both fascinating to observe their work and humbling to see how intently and intellectually they strive to achieve the highest level of quality possible.
What’s been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make moving to Seattle?
Since graduating and moving to Seattle, the biggest adjustment has been adapting to a slower pace of life outside of college. We go from university life and having 15 different things going on at the same time to maybe one or two at a time. I’ve learned to be more diligent in the work I do and to enjoy more of the opportunities around me.
Knowing what keeps you motivated is key to a well-balanced life.