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Career Steps Profile: Yidong Zhou

Good Career Start Makes a Difference

photo of Yidong Zhou, senior laser system engineer, Spectra-Physics

Yidong Zhou

Experience: Six years in academia, eight in laser industry

Job: Senior laser system engineer at Spectra-Physics, a division of Newport Corp. (Mountain View, CA)

Most Successful Career Step: My first project in my first industry job at Lightwave Electronics Corp., a small laser company in Silicon Valley, was the development of a high-power intra-cavity tripling UV laser. In a short period, we achieved the highest UV power and a very reliable laser product. I also developed the S-band Erbium doped fiber amplifier and ASE source, for which two patents were issued. I had a very good start in my industry career.

Easiest Career Step: Getting the second job after completing academic training. Building your professional career is a long-term project. When you get your degree/training done, you may have many difficult choices in a lot of areas. Once you start in this field, however, your next step is always easier. The easiest step in my career was advancing to my second job at Newport.

Steps to Keep on Top of Developments in the Field: Our company encourages employees to spend 30 hours a year in career development activities such as seminars, educational classes, technical training, etc. Trade shows such as SPIE Photonics West provide another great training opportunity to network and track the new technology. Optics journals are also a good way to keep your knowledge fresh.

Innovations With Lasers That Most Affect Your Career: Customer demand for laser applications drives the innovations at our company currently. You learn, gain more experience, and build up your professional career by designing or developing a new generation of laser products to meet customers' needs.

Influential for Career Success: Creativity. It's important to use knowledge creatively at work.

Questions to Ask Before Taking a Career Risk:

  • What is the marketing target of this company's product?
  • What is the advantage of this company' technology?
  • Do you have at least basic knowledge and ability to handle this challenge/job?
  • Are you financially strong enough just in case (it doesn't work out)?
  • Are you a risk-taker?

Next step: More challenges.

Profile Submitted: January 2008

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200802.96

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