The path to a dream career didn’t always feel “like a breeze” for Dremere Woods. In fact, he wasn’t sure he’d make it to college at all, let alone land offers from the top-tier companies he fantasized about working for someday. “My ACT score was really low at one point, so it took self-driven studying and a lot of discipline,” he explains. “My family was not as fortunate as everyone else; I didn’t have access to ACT tutors or things of that nature. So I worked at McDonald’s part-time and used my checks from there to purchase an ACT book.” Woods studied diligently to teach himself the test material, eventually passing the ACT with a score that got him in the door at Auburn University, where he now studies aerospace engineering.
A first-generation college student from a low-income background, Dremere was determined to squeeze every drop of opportunity from his hard-won college acceptance. When he wanted to make friends, he joined the wrestling team; when he wanted to excel in his studies, he was inducted into campus honors societies; when he wanted to lay the foundation for his career, he joined Handshake.
“I really desperately needed an internship,” Dremere explains of the time right around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “My father was laid off from his job, which he luckily got back later. But I was left scrambling around trying to find a way to make sure I had a job. I wanted to support myself financially and provide anything I could for him that he might have needed as well, to make sure I wasn't so much of a burden.” Enter: Handshake.
"Someone ended up telling me about Handshake, and that's how I found an opportunity with one of the companies I’ve worked with, GE Aviation: through Handshake. Once I applied it was, I'd say, all she wrote from there. After that, I use Handshake. I've had five internships… four opportunities came directly from Handshake."
After a friend encouraged Dremere to sign up and fill out his profile, he began discovering opportunities with big-name employers related to his aerospace engineering studies—and, more surprisingly to him, actually hearing back. “I’d been using websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster, and I kept coming to a dead end, I’d say. I would apply to jobs and I wouldn't get them.” But after connecting with 2022 Handshake Early Talent Awards winner GE Aviation on Handshake, Dremere’s luck began to change. “I got on Handshake, applied for one opportunity, and got an offer from GE Aviation within a week.”
Dremere dove head first into life as a GE Aviation intern that summer, working as a GE9X kit designer at a GE campus in Mississippi, completing real work that enabled jet engine production. During this internship, Dremere was also able to travel out of state to visit an engine facility, where he saw the real-time impact of his internship projects being implemented on the factory floor!
“I just felt like it was a match made in heaven,” Dremere says of his first summer internship with GE Aviation. “The application process was pretty straightforward, and that's something I really appreciated since I'm also a first-generation college student who’s navigating this whole internship process on top of school and FAFSA. It was all very new to me, trying to understand everything. But with GE, it felt like a breeze. So easy.”
Dremere went on to become a veritable super-intern with GE Aviation, completing two more internships (including a virtual internship academy during the summer of 2020) with the company.
Choosing a worthwhile employer
It wasn’t the money or the impressive name that kept Dremere applying on Handshake three summers in a row—though those are always nice pluses! Instead, here’s what encouraged him to become a “boomerang” hire with the ETA-winning company:
- His colleagues: “I just kept coming back every time because of the people… I even met my mentor when he was my manager at GE.”
- Upward mobility: “There’s just so much potential for growth and opportunity. I liked talking to people who have kinda a similar story as me where they started as maybe an assembly worker, and now they're a manager within the company. It isn’t a dead-end job; there’s so much room for growth and potential and opportunity. That's what really drew me to them—if people around me are promoting and getting better and learning more every day, I want to stick around.”
- Professional development: “Once I got hired, they coached me and helped me grow a lot more. Originally, I would say I was a lot more timid and shy, but they broke me out of my shell and helped teach me to communicate much better.”
Heading into his senior year of college, Dremere was encouraged by his mentor—who was his manager during his first GE Aviation internship—to gain experience in a different sector and flex new professional muscles. Hoping to develop his interpersonal skills and set himself up for management potential early on in his career, Dremere connected with a new employer on Handshake will spend summer 2022 as an Undergraduate Sales Intern. But after he receives his diploma, it might very well be right back to GE Aviation. After all, as Dremere says: “They're awesome. Just phenomenal.” What more could you ask for?
If you want to connect with an employer you’ll love this much, explore the full list of ETA winners (including GE!) and give them a follow, then brush up on your interview skills. And be sure to follow us on Instagram and TikTok for more stories like Dremere’s, cool job alerts, and more!