From a Full-Time Student to a Full-Time Product Engineer
Alon Palmor initially joined Nova's ELIPSON team as a mechanical engineering student. To his surprise, not only did he manage his time better, studying and working in the same time, he also improved his academic achievements. Here is his story
Tell us a bit about yourself, Alon.
My name is Alon Palmor, I’m twenty-nine years old, I’m originally from Ramat Gan, and I currently live in Tel Aviv. I joined Nova in 2019, as a student on the Elipson team, where I worked as a product engineer. I was with Nova for a year and half while I was still a student, and joined Nova in the second semester of my third year at university.
What did you study?
I studied mechanical engineering at Ben-Gurion University, in Beer-Sheva. Towards the end of my degree, I began working full-time as a product engineer, and that is what I do today.
How did you balance being both a student and working in hi-tech?
There’s a harder and bigger workload, that’s for sure, so I expected my grades to go down; but that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. Maybe it’s because being busy full-time suddenly gave me more perspective and more insight. It also gave me more practice for all the theories I was learning which led to my academic improvement. Suddenly my grades shot up.
Here at Nova, there’s an amazing team, and they’re always so happy to help. I had someone to consult with and ask questions about things I was learning. When something I had learned wasn’t clear, I would read a bit about it on the internet, then I would speak with an expert at Nova.
So contrary to my fears, joining Nova really pushed me forward in my studies. It also gave me a daily drive. Instead of being just a student who chose whether or not to go to class, I actually had responsibility. The responsibility helped me leverage my success both as a student, and as a professional, so of course, I’m really happy I had the opportunity to combine university and working in hi-tech.
How did you arrive at Nova?
I got lucky. I found a job with Nova very quickly. I was interviewing at another company at the same time that I was interviewing at Nova, and I was debating between Nova and the other company. Rosti Talis from the Nova ELIPSON team encouraged me to come. We served together in the army, in Unit 81, and he remembered me from there. He told me about Nova and I told him that I would love to hear more.
How did you feel about the interview process?
I don’t know if it’s like this for all interviewees, but the recruiting manager asked me to solve a real problem his team was dealing with. He said, “Look, we have a module we are working on and it has a problem, how do you suggest we solve it?” This was an interesting question because I was only a student and I had no idea what the company was working on. Although I prepared for the interview and read about Nova’s products online, I had to admit I had no understanding of what I was reading. Words which I use daily today were very foreign, then. Later in the interview, I learned that the interviewer understood how I was feeling, and he helped me and led me in the process. That’s how I realized and appreciated that he was testing my thought process and not my knowledge. I also connected with him as a person, which made me want to join the company.
It may sound weird, but I actually enjoyed the last interview (there were three). I had good chemistry with the interviewer and that’s what convinced me.
How did things develop after you graduated?
I really enjoyed my role in the Elipson team. When I got the product job, I was very happy, but I knew that mechanical design interested me, because throughout my studies the message that was conveyed was that mechanical design is more interesting because it deals with the mechanical aspect of the whole system. It’s a lot of geometry and planning how things will fit with each other, and I found it very interesting.
Throughout the year and a half of my job at Nova, while I was a student, I constantly kept wanting to get into the role of mechanical design. But, when I graduated and was in the process of moving to a full-time job, I was told there was no open position in the field, and I was offered a job as a product engineer on another team, Stand-Alone. I thought about it and realized that it could be interesting, because it’s also a role with a mechanical aspect, even though it’s not designed, or hardcore mechanical engineering. It’s a position that you can arrive at from different directions–electrical engineering, materials engineering, and more. I chose to accept the offer.
Today I understand how interested I am in this field–working on the system is a slightly broader direction, and it’s more challenging, in my opinion.
When you finished your degree, was it clear to you that you wanted to continue at Nova?
Absolutely, no doubt.
I didn’t even check other companies or even open LinkedIn to see offers so that I wouldn’t be tempted. There were a few reasons for this:
First, Nova is my place. I had a lot of fun in my work environment. Everyone is so nice and supportive, and they’re always ready to help you and teach you. Even before I had worked at Nova for a year and a half, I knew that I was in a very good place. I felt heard and knew that I was influencing the project through the things I was working on. It felt good that the project manager and team leaders consulted with me, and said things like “Alon, I need you on this.”
Second, I felt a lot was riding on me and that I had a real impact. I loved that.
Third, Nova’s conditions are good–from the facilities to the work-life balance. The work hours are very reasonable–this is something they work very hard at. If there is no real crisis, and there aren’t many of those, I won’t be asked to work late. In fact, if I’m working late, my manager will come and say “Alon, go home. It’s late.” This is something I really appreciate because in the army I worked 24/7, and while I enjoyed my work, I’m very happy to have a life beyond work, where I can maintain a routine and enjoy life.
Beyond all these things, I am able to grow and learn, and I’ve made friends here. All these things made me decide to stay at Nova no matter what.
Did you get to work with Rosti Talis after you joined Nova?
Rosti and I worked on the same team, so we got to work together. At first, I relied on him a lot. I felt very comfortable asking him questions and because he’s very smart and a very nice person, he knows how to explain things and make information accessible.
How would you describe the culture at Nova?
I talk about Nova to my siblings, my friends, and my parents, and they always respond by saying things like “Wow, Nova is a great place to work, or I want my son/brother to work there, or I have a friend to recommend…”
A lot of the work is done when people are happy and cheerful and there’s always teamwork and a lot of laughs and humor. At the same time, there is a high level of professionalism. When you put it all together, it makes Nova a very attractive place to work.
What do you do in your spare time?
I do a lot of sports. I love working out. I also love doing courses on Udemy, taking courses on self-empowerment, and expanding my general knowledge. I also play piano, unfortunately, I can’t bring a piano to Tel Aviv, so I visit my parents a lot, and I play there.
What advice do you have for engineering students?
Write your CV as early as possible and go to as many interviews as possible; even if you’re sure you don’t have time, and even if you have lots of tests. Just do it.
The reason to do it is that no matter what, you’ll learn, even if you fail. Job interviews require practice and learning. To be interviewed is its own thing that can be learned by having as many interviews as possible.
Before an interview, I suggest studying really well. Review a lot of theoretical material and Google all sorts of job interview questions.
Last but not least, make sure that the job you work at as a student, is in the field you’re learning. This is a great way to get into the industry because it’s much harder to find an entry-level position than it is to find a job as a student. Doing this will give you a significant advantage and time to learn. Nova was very considerate of my needs as a student, so I received a lot of free time and flexibility so that I could study for exams. I got to enjoy the best of both worlds and I highly recommend doing it.