Dear Huddie

Dear Huddie: Lack of Engineering Experience

November 22, 2013

Back for installment 23 of Dear Huddie – a bi-weekly column to assist engineer job hunters in their pursuit of happiness. If only we could engineer warmer weather during these cold months!

That’s funny from the internet … don’t overthink it, simply enjoy it!

dear huddie
Dear Huddie,

I received my degree in aerospace engineering three months ago. I’ve received quite a few phone interviews, but no offer for at least a second interview. During my interviews for entry-level positions (courtesy of engineerjobs.com), I noticed how the recruiters were always curious about my lack of engineering experience. I was a transfer student from a small town so I was unaware of the importance of internships and co-ops. During my last three years of college I attempted to obtain an internship and co-op, but the response was worse than my current job search. However, I was able to obtain a research position my last year of college. What should I do to make myself more competitive with other grads? Also, how important is GPA in the candidate selection?

Signed – Where is that next job!

Ahh, the struggle that 71% of recent grads run in to (OK, I made that number up) – but still a great question. Option 1: go back in time, so right from the start option 1 is out! Seriously, the only option is to press on with the job search. While I did have a co-op/internship myself, it did not help me in my first job, and in fact the internship had nothing to do with my first real job. That is not to say practical experience is not important, in fact it is. It is to say that jobs are out there, even for those without experience. There are companies that will and do hire people without experience – some even want the inexperience so the recent grad has not “picked up any bad habits!”

GPA – my personal opinion is the GPA is critical for qualification purposes; as human resources and/or recruiters weed through resumes they will omit GPAs that do not fall in the area they deem acceptable. This could be 3.0 or even 2.5.

Wrapping up, real-time experience and a high GPA is going to place you on more lists for recruiters, but people have been hired without the internship.

 

Dear Huddie,

Just stumbled upon your blog and first of all would like to thank you for the information you provide not only for engineers but also potential engineering students.

Now my question is, and I know you probably get asked this a million times a day, but seriously: How did you realize engineering was the field you wanted to pursue? Not only that, but how did you choose which branch of engineering? I went to a community college right after high school not only because it was cheaper, but because I had no clue what I wanted to do. I am really leaning towards engineering, specifically mechanical because it will allow me a broad range of career options. I would love to do light blue-collar type work in a badass industry such as aerospace or automotive, and get paid white collar money for it. Honesty not a fan of office work and would much rather work in the field, hands on. Is it possible for you to shed some light on choosing the right field and what specialties to focus on if I want to break into the hands-on engineering?

Thanks,
D-Nice

Thanks for the question – first thing is to take the Dear Huddie Quiz.

After passing the quiz you have now officially realized you would like to be an engineer. Now what type? Hmm… that gets interesting as each engineering type does many different things. I am a Chemical Engineer by trade, but much like you I wanted to work with my hands – so I sell chemicals for numerous different applications. Next week on Monday I test chemical levels at a boiler house, on Tuesday test before-and-after chromium levels at a ground water clean-up project, golf Wednesday (weather permitting), Proposal meeting (collar shirt, big boy pants) on Thursday, more water testing on Friday. Moral of the story, there are many different types of jobs for many different types of engineers. I personally did not want to be a cubical guy and didn’t think a plant engineer job was for me. Enjoy the journey, especially in school. The first two years of engineering are typically the same for all engineering majors – take that time to learn more about different engineering fields.

 

Thank you again for listening, that’s it for now. Next installment in two weeks – don’t forget to send your Dear Huddie questions to dearhuddie@gmail.com.

Sincerely,
Huddie