Alumni Stories: Cassie Atchley |Schneider Electric


Cassie Atchley

Schneider Electric | Project Development Manager
Biosystems Engineering

What is your current role + company and how would you describe your responsibilities?

I work as a Project Development Manager for Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business. Schneider Electric is a Fortune 500 French multinational company that is publicly traded. Through the work of several business divisions, we specialize in digital automation and energy management.

My specific role is to develop energy performance contracts in the public market, primarily for school districts, local governments, and higher education institutions. Energy performance contracts allow our customers to make facility upgrades that reduce utility spend and increase operational efficiency. Customers use the capital saved by reducing utility spend to fund the facility upgrades.

To develop a project, I work closely with our account executives to build a relationship with the customer by seeking to understand their needs and vision, conducting feasibility studies, and presenting periodic project updates (this means I travel about 30% of my time).  I oversee the internal engineering team that builds facility energy models, designs mechanical system solutions, and creates a building automation design. I also manage scopes of work such as LED lighting retrofits, building envelope sealing, water conservation, and more through subcontractor bidding. I maintain the project budget and schedule as well as forecast cost and workload. Finally, upon completion of project development, I am responsible for writing the final energy performance contract.

How did you secure your position? What was your job search process like and were there any specific resources you found useful during your search (i.e. Handshake, career fairs, career coaches, other specific workshops or events)?

I secured my position through the alumni network of an on-campus organization I was a member of. Auburn provides incredible opportunities to begin building a professional network while still a student- you just have to put yourself out there! Working your network is particularly helpful if you are seeking a job that is out-of-the-box or not an obvious job description for your degree.

What were you looking for in your job search and how did you confirm the decision to accept your job offer?

I wanted a job that offered opportunities for growth in communication, decision-making, and was dynamic- meaning that every day was different and held new problems to solve. Further, I find it really rewarding as an engineer when my daily work makes a tangible difference in the lives of our customers as well as a positive impact for the environment.

What kinds of experiences in college helped you prepare for your full-time position? How so?

I got the wonderful advice as a freshman to do three things before graduating:

  1. Participate in a campus organization that aligned with your passion/ was fun
  2. Participate in a campus organization that would benefit your future career
  3. Have a professional internship or co-op

I understand that adding these things on top of an engineering workload can feel daunting, but it is worth the effort.  If you manage to not just check these boxes, but really engage- you will dictate what job you land after college.

What aspect(s) of your college experience do you feel best prepared you to join the workforce and succeed on the job?

see previous

Describe your experience transitioning from college to career. What have you enjoyed most and what is the biggest challenge? 

Transitioning to the working world from college can be a shock to the system! In college, you are constantly surrounded by your friends, have a multitude of fun things to do, and by senior year are a big fish in a small pond. Moving to a new place, working with new people, and navigating adult things like health insurance and 401ks can make you feel unprepared and even lonely. I think it is so important to find hobbies, friends, and a community in your new season of life! For me, this looked like joining a church, signing up for a yoga membership, making plans to see college friends in their new cities, and so on. I have found that I really enjoy and thrive in the routine that an 8-5 brings! Just remember- adjusting takes time.

What advice would you give to students as they begin to search for jobs?

Master the art of turning your job interviews into an interview of the company. You will know you have accomplished this when you are having a fluid conversation instead of awkwardly getting grilled. Ask for examples of recent wins and losses- and how they celebrated or learned. Formulate thoughtful and respectful questions that will reveal to you the company culture, management style, and expectations.

Maximize the absolute treasure trove of resources available to you at Auburn to hone your interview skills and perfect your resume!


Published 8.21.2022