Come out of the gate running!
How you can impress above the rest and land that first post-college gig.
You’ve put in your time and now you’re almost done with classes. As you approach graduation, you start thinking about your first job. Actually, it’s not just a job, it is the start of your career. Landing your first engineering job is critical. So, how do you land that first job without pulling out your hair?
The best way to land your first job is to have work experience already on your résumé. Co-op and internships are a great way to gain applicable work experience while still in school. A co-op is usually three semesters. Some students shy away from it because it extends your graduation date. However, the assignments and experience you gain can certainly be worth it. Another option is taking an internship. There are both paid and unpaid internships in the field of engineering. These are great gigs to work during summer breaks and other holidays. Often times the company you co-op or intern with will offer you a job at graduation if you can impress them.
Relationships are also a great way to land your first job. Utilize professors, family friends, trade clubs or groups, and mentors you found during a co-op or internship. You never know what someone is willing to do for you until you ask. A simple request for a reference might become the open door to the perfect assignment you were looking for.
Trade Clubs and Groups:
Use trade clubs or groups to your advantage. Every degree path has a collegiate club. While in college, hopefully you were an active participant. It’s even better if you held a chair or leadership position in the group. This is a great networking opportunity, plus it looks great on a résumé.
Go to college job fairs. Schools of study are even having specialized job fairs specific to their niche. Make sure you dress professionally, have at least thirty copies of your résumé, and don’t forget to smile. Stop at every booth and speak with the company representative. Show your ability to interact and carry on a conversation. A lot of engineering companies look for “soft” skills. Your ability will go a long way if you come across as naturally outgoing and conversational. Remember that recruiters are there to fill entry-level positions, so they are looking for great candidates like yourself!
Do not underestimate social sites, especially LinkedIn. Every career minded person should have a LinkedIn profile. Make sure to keep it professional. This is not like Facebook or Twitter. Think of it as an online resume, and keep it updated and current. Get a professional head shot, then network with as many people as you can. Do not reject any request to connect with someone no matter how obscure.
The main takeaway is to not to give up on landing your first engineering job. The ability to get an engineering degree shows you are tenacious, detail oriented, and organized. Use those skills to proactively scour the job market and winning that first engineering gig. You worked hard for your education, now put it to work for you!