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Inclusion for All: US Army Veteran Builds High-Tech Career at KLA

Aug 18, 2022 4 min read

KLA’s Amanda Fava enjoyed studying science, math and technology at her Rochester, New York high school, and she hoped to apply those skills to a career in astronomy. By the time Amanda graduated, her interests had shifted to computer science, and she joined the U.S. armed forces – beginning a journey that would take her to a career in advanced semiconductor technologies at KLA.

“Through six years in the military, I fought in a war, trained extensively in avionics to repair helicopters, learned to take initiative and think out of the box – and came out of the Army driven to find a career that would fit into my skillset and lead me on a path of growth. In KLA, I had all of those boxes checked off.”

Amanda Fava, sales account manager, KLA

Amanda volunteered for military service in the New York Army National Guard after the 911 attacks in 2001. Serving in the Army National Guard is a part-time commitment where soldiers are required to drill one weekend each month and for two weeks annually – but can be mobilized for full-time active service.

As part of her training, Amanda spent a year learning to repair multiple helicopter airframes. After that, Amanda worked from an armory in Rochester, servicing communications systems, electronic countermeasures, infrared detectors and other critical systems.

And then the call to active duty came.

Her unit was mobilized, and Amanda deployed to Iraq for much of 2005, working 12-hour shifts at a forward operating base maintaining helicopters.

While deployed for a year in Iraq, Amanda often took part in flight missions on helicopters she repaired.

Transitioning her Military Skills to a Successful Career at KLA

After Amanda returned from deployment, she started the search for a full-time civilian job. A recruiter noticed her background in avionics, resulting in a match for a customer service engineer role at KLA in Fishkill, New York.

“That first job at KLA was very different from working on helicopters and involved a new and challenging technology, but I was utilizing many of the same basic concepts I learned in the Army,” she recalls. “The job led me on a growth path and, eventually, into my current role as a sales account manager, responsible for strategic selling in the Northeastern United States.”

She credits KLA’s training program as critical to her success and advancement.

“The systems I serviced in the Army were several decades old compared to what KLA is doing with advanced technologies,” she recalls. “However, I was trainable – veterans love training. KLA did an excellent job picking up on my electronics experience from my Army job and turning them into the skills I needed to work with lasers, robotics and other leading-edge technology – preparing me for a very technical role where I engage directly with customer operators and process engineers.”

While working with precision instruments to service customers’ equipment, Amanda continued training, adding to her skills and learning more about the industry and prospects for career growth.

“As I built my skills, my job responsibilities increased and I became more visible within the company,” Amanda adds. “My managers noticed my ability to articulate about our technologies internally and with customers, and they continued to help me develop.”

Amanda Fava

It wasn’t long before Amanda became senior service engineer and then, in 2017, advanced to account manager, focusing on sales of life extension and productivity enhancements for mature semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Passionate about Raising Awareness of Veterans Talent and Potential

Amanda’s military service didn’t end until 2007 when she was still new to KLA.

“KLA was very supportive of my service and understood the risk of further deployments while I was working for the company, but this didn’t deter my hiring manager from offering me the position,” she recalls.

Today, Amanda is proud to share her military experience and the valuable contributions it’s made in building her successful career. She participates in programs to raise awareness of the veteran talent pool and promotes KLA as a potential employer for military veterans through programs such as the SEMI Foundation’s VetWorks program.

She spoke recently at SEMICON West’s Workforce Development program on the topic of “Hiring Heroes – A Path from Military to a Civilian Career,” focusing on ways companies can engage veterans in not just transitioning to but also thriving in civilian careers.

Her advice for other veterans considering a role in the semiconductor industry?

“Don’t undervalue yourself and understand who you are,” she says. “You know how to pick up a wrench, you can follow instructions, you are trainable, you are disciplined, you are on time, you finish the job, you are detail-oriented. All those things are absolutely necessary and valuable in this industry, especially in technical roles. And, technical jobs can jumpstart you into multiple career paths such as sales, marketing and management.”

So, what are some of Amanda’s other passions? Amanda loves spending time with her children. She enjoys bike riding with them and volunteers for their youth sports organizations. Amanda loves reading fiction and nonfiction – “I’m reading ‘Harry Potter’ again with my kids,” she says. She is also passionate about playing the piano and loves to cook – especially Thanksgiving dinner.

Be sure to catch up on previous employee spotlights in our Opportunity Ahead, Making the World a Better Place and Inclusion for All series, and don’t forget to browse job openings on the KLA careers page.

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