Ask Shayda Shahbazi what the key to her success has been and she’ll tell you, “If you work hard, you can achieve what you're seeking.” She says it’s one of the most important things she learned in college.
Shayda grew up in Reston, VA, and came to SEAS to study electrical engineering. While here, she saw the opportunities that SEAS, GW, and even Washington, DC, have to offer undergraduate students, and she wisely charted a path for herself, taking advantage of the options that most interested her.
On campus, Shayda was the secretary and freshman representative of GW’s IEEE chapter and was active in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where she served as its representative on the Engineers Council and later as its treasurer and president. She enjoyed the practical experiences she gained from the student organizations and notes especially the benefits of being a member of GW’s chapter of SWE.
“I was very active in attending the annual conferences with fellow SWE members,” she says. “We attended SWE annual conferences in Chicago, Houston, and Baltimore and made connections with female engineers from all over the country. I landed my Honeywell summer internship by interviewing at a SWE conference.”
During her college years, Shayda interned at no less than three companies—and not just any companies. She interned with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Honeywell Aerospace, and Cisco Systems. That’s the kind of practical experience that helps add context to classroom learning and give a student a leg up in the job market at graduation.
In Shayda’s case, the internships gave her not just experience, but also connections and a better understanding of the sort of career she might want to pursue. At Honeywell Aerospace, she learned about the technical nature of electrical engineering while working in a software development role.
“I wrote code to download software onto onboard avionics computers and updated electronic circuit breaker tool code to implement additional filters (essential and non-essential buses) on an aircraft,” she explains, noting also that “it was at this internship where I spent time with a Honeywell patent attorney who connected me with a few DC patent attorneys.”
In contrast, at Cisco Systems, she discovered the business side of engineering and learned that she really enjoyed it. “These internships allowed me to realize that the intersection of technology, business, and the law may be where my ultimate interest lies,” she reflects.
And that is the path she pursued. After graduating from GW, Shayda went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2020. She currently works at an intellectual property law firm in Washington, DC, prosecuting patent applications in the electrical engineering space. “I handle a variety of patent law matters, and I specialize in preparing and prosecuting patent applications in the electrical technology field,” says Shayda.
She carries with her the memories of her time as an undergraduate at SEAS, including memories of a semester abroad, studying at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea.
When asked was she learned from the experience, Shayda says, “For me, studying abroad was about immersing myself in another culture. I spent time with a Korean family every week tutoring their son. The family showed me the deep value of education in the Korean culture. I made friendships with Korean classmates who showed me the social aspects of college in Korea. We spent an unforgettable weekend at a Buddhist temple in the mountains of the northern periphery of Seoul where we learned to meditate with monks. Overall, studying abroad showed me the importance of meeting people from different parts of the world and considering international perspectives in everyday life and business.”