How I Returned to Work as an Application Engineer After a 10-Year Absence

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

Diana Kuai. Photo courtesy of Cadence Design Systems.

Diana Kuai. Photo courtesy of Cadence Design Systems.

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June 15, 2024 at 2:33PM UTC

Diana Kuai joined Cadence Design Systems — a pivotal leader in electronic systems design — through its returnship program after a decade-long absence from the semiconductor industry.

“In the early stage of my returnship program, I hesitated to ask questions or seek help due to a lack of confidence and a presumed knowledge gap,” she recalls. “This prevented me from finding the fastest, quickest path to solving the problems at hand.”

However, she soon found that the Cadence team was ready to support her at every step. “Cadence management was invested in my success from the start, and they encouraged and supported me unwaveringly throughout the program,” she tells us. “I was held to a high standard but, at the same time, given time to grow and allowed a level of tolerance for mistakes.”

During this time, her mentor and hiring manager both encouraged her to advance at her own pace. “I would not have been here today without the Cadence returnship program,” Diana states.

Today, thanks to this program and support, Diana is an application engineer at Cadence. “I work in an exciting industry full of cutting-edge technology and tough problems,” she explains. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is being part of the solution to help my customers succeed when they encounter problems. My work also helps my company build better products to serve the industry.”

And, while she is challenged everyday with new and complex problems, Diana emphasizes how this enables her to constantly learn, push boundaries, and leave her comfort zone. Being empowered to constantly grow has been a consistent theme throughout her journey with Cadence. “It is never too early or too late to learn,” states Diana.

Interested in finding out more about Diana’s job, her advice for women in STEM, and other ways that Cadence supports her? Read on to learn more…

To start, tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and what’s your day-to-day like?

I support simulation software that enables the design of integrated circuits (ICs). These ICs can be found in electronics, such as computers, cell phones, cars, home appliances and more. The software product I work with is used to create almost every chip on the market today.

My day-to-day job is dynamic, which is part of being an application engineer. Normally, I start by planning my day, coming up with an agenda and prioritizing tasks. A typical working day involves a few scheduled meetings, which can be strategic planning with colleagues or working with customers to understand and resolve the problems they are facing. 

I always have a few hours reserved for in-depth troubleshooting, investigating solutions, and learning to build more technical depth and breath. I also make sure that I have regular in-person interaction with coworkers to spark innovation and build strong working relationships.  

How have you found your own passion, purpose, and voice at work?

An application engineer is the liaison between users and product developers. You have to stay on top of advanced technical topics, which requires continuous learning — an aspect of my job that I find gratifying. It’s amazing how you’re always being challenged to learn and grow in this field.

I also enjoy working with people and being able to help solve complex problems. I want to continuously improve my communication skills to be more effective, an important skill even in a highly technical role.

What are your top pieces of advice for women in your industry?

  • Embrace challenges and aim high. 

  • Be passionate and love what you do.  

  • Set career goals, especially short-term and specific goals.

Let’s talk more about Cadence’s culture. What’s your favorite aspect of it, and how does your company help you succeed?

“One Cadence, one team” is the core of Cadence’s Culture. My company highly values each team member, teamwork, and collaboration. At Cadence, we work together to achieve excellence. My colleagues are generous enough to share their time and knowledge to be helpful.

What people, resources, and tools do you rely on to get on to attain work-life balance?

Cadence has a Global Recharge Day monthly, where we’re reminded to stay away from work to refresh and recharge. I always take advantage of these days to spend time in nature with my family.

Diana Kuai. Photo courtesy of Cadence Design Systems.

It also helps that I have a spouse who always reminds me to take time away from work.

Want to join Kuai and grow your career at a company that supports your development? Cadence is hiring! View current opportunities via the following link.

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