He'll Graduate and Work on Cutting-EdgeTechnology

Andrew Lam will work on cutting-edge technology at Verizon Wireless

Not many college seniors turn down job offers from Google. But Andrew Lam did. It was a tough decision, but it came down to following his passion.

Verizon Wireless offered him a job working on VoLTE, a next generation communication system that will seamlessly integrate phone calls, text messaging and video calling.  He accepted.

A week after he graduates, he’ll start working at Verizon’s corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge. There, he’ll join the Product Development team that is designing VoLTE, a technology that, in his eyes, epitomizes cutting edge.

“It was really hard turning down Google,” says Andrew, an Information Technology major. “But I wanted to work on cutting-edge technology and VZW gave me a better opportunity to do that. It’s fun and challenging to work on something new and exciting like VoLTE, and I’ll help make technology easier to use and more accessible.”

What is it about Andrew that attracts top employers? For one, he’s a great student: He’s a scholar in the Albert Dorman Honors College with a 3.91 GPA. He’s an IT major with a focus in Network and Information Security and an academic minor in Business.  He belonged to the Student Senate and during his summers, he worked three internships: one at Verizon Wireless, one at UPS and another at McGraw Hill Financial.

In high school, by his own admission, Andrew was a B/B+ student. But at NJIT he ramped it up. He found his groove, found his passion, and found a job that he can’t wait to start. In this interview, he talks about his past years at NJIT and the bright future that awaits him.

Was it difficult turning down a job offer from Google, perhaps the most famous company in the world?

It really was. If you look at what the position was and my major, the two were a perfect match. But what it came down to was realizing what I wanted to do in my future career and I would not have been able to do so in the position Google offered me. I would have worked on Google’s internal system administration.  It’s kind of like their help desk, where employees come to you with their system problems.

What was the Google campus in Mountain View like?

They flew me out to their headquarters in California and it was amazing.During my time there, I had the chance to see the different buildings at Google and the Android statutes Little did I know I would be riding a bike to get from building to building; though I should have known since they first asked me if I knew how to ride a bicycle? What made this difficult was that I was wearing business clothes and had to ride a bike; that was more difficult than I thought. It was also tough since I had to keep up with them or I would probably have ended up at the wrong place.

In high school you weren’t a top student but at NJIT you decided to excel. How’d that happen?

In high school I did just enough to be a B/B+ student with an A every now and then. I remember during my first semester, all I wanted was a 3.0, just enough to keep me in the Honor’s College. I was shocked to find out I got higher than a 3.5 overall. I felt like if I could get an A in Calc II, thanks in large part to the great professor I had, and then maybe I could get a 4.0 overall. It became a competition with myself to see how well I could do in my classes. But there were times when I would say I would be happy with a 3.5 and forget about the 4.0; luckily, I have a good friend who would tell me to shoot for the A and don’t pigeon-hole myself so that the highest I can get is only a B+; if I end up with a B+, I would still be happy.

Are you the first in your family to attend NJIT?

My sister, Kimberly, graduated in 2012 with a degree in mechanical engineering.  She’s working now for Schneider Electric, in Secaucus, N.J. She loved NJIT and recommended it to me.

Was Information Technology a good major?

Yes, without a doubt. What I like best about being an IT major is the flexibility with the classes you can take. I always felt like I had the opportunity to learn what I wanted and worked with Sarah Vandermark, my adviser, to be able to take those classes. Most IT classes were really interesting and much more applied than theoretical. There were some classes where I didn’t see a relation to my major. But looking back, I am glad I took them as I can now see their benefits. I was fortunate to have had great advisers in both the College of Computing Sciences and in the Honors College.

Your father was born in China but your mother was born in America.  Did they encourage you to excel?

Both my parents pushed me to excel and succeed, but they didn’t stress too much for the actual grades. They told me as long as they see me putting in the effort, grades didn’t matter as much; it is possible that I would do my best and the grade wouldn’t show for it. That said, there was still an unspoken hope from my parents of me getting at least a B+.

What did you do for fun at NJIT?

Wait, you can have fun at college? Joking aside; at NJIT I enjoyed hanging out and just talking with my friends. There were a good amount of events and giveaways held during the day and the night for which my friends and I partook. I was also a part of the Student Senate and found joy in that. Outside of school, I like reading, playing tennis, cooking and much like other college students, playing video games.

Sounds like you grew and matured at NJIT.

NJIT has a lot to offer once you realize what they have to offer. When I first came here, I didn’t care much. I went to class and then went home immediately. But once I became more involved and started talking to the CCS and Honors advisors, who by the way are amazing, I realized how great NJIT is. My only regret is that I wish I became involved on campus earlier. I’m also not done with NJIT.  I will begin my Master’s in Software Engineering, offered by CCS, here at NJIT in the Fall, while working at Verizon Wireless.

Did you benefit by being in the Honors College?

I liked their honors lectures the roundtable discussions, some with graduates from the Honors College. The college also brought in prominent speakers to discuss their careers with us. One speaker, Daniel Henderson, CEO of Intellect Wireless, said something during his talk that I’ll never forget. He advised us not to take a job that we are comfortable with. But rather to take a job that challenges us, so that we could grow and stretch our intellects. That advice helped me to take the job with Verizon Wireless.  I’m excited about working as I’ll work on systems that will be entirely new to me.  But I like a challenge and I love working on cutting-edge

(By Robert Florida)