From Military Pilot to Semi Equipment Production Planner
helicopter in the sky at sunset
Jul 5, 2016

What do the military and the semiconductor industry have in common? More than you might think! In terms of the type of work, they are “worlds away,” and yet many of the skills developed during military service are transferable to corporate roles. A great example comes from a recent profile published in G.I. Jobs featuring Alyssa, a Lam employee and former captain in the Marine Corps. She used her military background to find a fulfilling position as a production planner in the exciting, fast-paced world of technology. No longer maneuvering Super Stallion helicopters in the sky, she now focuses on the manufacture of Lam’s products, which help make the sophisticated chips inside those powerful high-tech helos.

A number of employees with military backgrounds have similar stories of successfully transitioning into rewarding careers at Lam. For instance, many work as engineering technicians in our labs and pilot manufacturing or as test technicians in production manufacturing. Those who have served as junior military officers often find a good job fit the area of business operations. We highly value the many contributions of these veterans to the workplace. In fact, soon we will be reaching out even more to those with military experience since, in addition to their skills, the discipline and values they embody are a great fit for our company culture.

To learn more about Alyssa’s interesting background, perspective, and successful transition from the military to the corporate world, take a look at the G.I. Jobs story below.


Super Stallion pilot transitions from giant helos to the tiny world of semiconductors
Success Stories | Officer: Capt Alyssa Saunders


PASS THE CHIPS, PLEASE! Alyssa Saunders’ civilian career couldn’t be more different from her military career. The former CH-53E pilot is a production planner for Lam Research, a company that provides semiconductor manufacturing equipment to chipmakers. Their technology helps customers make the devices we use every day smaller, faster and more power-efficient.

HIGH-TECH STUFF. The company’s advanced technology has atomic-scale features that are more than 1,000 times smaller than a grain of sand – worlds away from the giant Super Stallion helicopter Saunders flew in the Marines.

MAKING THE CALL. Both jobs require judgement calls and an ability to think on your feet. Her job managing the production schedule for deposition tools ordered in the Asia-Pacific region requires daily judgement calls – not unlike military aviation, which is all about judgement calls.

CORPORATE COOPERATION. But there were adjustments. “Without the very defined rank structure of the military, there aren’t clear chains of command and cooperation is more dependent on creating and maintaining good working relationships with the rest of the people in the company,” she says.

THE TRANSITION. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Saunders deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She also served as a function check pilot during her career – a role she is most proud of. But by 2014 she had accomplished her goals and decided to become civilian project manager. She researched companies and began interviewing. “I chose Lam because I really liked the culture of the company,” she says.

HER ADVICE? “Start planning for your transition as early as possible and know what is most important to you about your future; whether it is where you are going to live, what kind of job you want, how much money you want to make; and what you are willing to compromise on. Don’t be talked out of what is important to you.”

Reprinted with permission from G.I. Jobs (June 2016)