On February 19th, students and employers gathered for the Engineering Industry Showcase hosted by Center for Career Education (CCE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
The organizations in attendance represented a variety of disciplines within engineering including: Civil Engineering, Commercial Banking, Energy, Government, Internet & Software, Oil & Gas and Technical Consulting. Panelists shared valuable insights into preparing for a career in engineering.
Gain Experience (and learn how to speak about it)
All of our panelists agreed that gaining experience is essential. However, they emphasized that experience can come in a variety of different forms including designing a project, joining a lab, seeking internships, volunteering, joining clubs, or taking on leadership roles.
For instance, you might learn technical skills and tools in class. Think about applying those skills in a practical way by contributing to open source projects or taking on independent projects.
Our panelists also recommended joining a research lab to develop your collaboration skills.
“Experience working in teams is one of the most valued [experiences we look for in candidates]…
“…School can be isolating, you do a lot by yourself so seek opportunities to do team work and build things together.”
Build a Strong Narrative Through Diverse Experiences
Brian Moreno, ExxonMobil, suggested getting varied experiences year after year to help clarify your interests. He recommended that you “try something out with no hard feelings through internships.”
Acknowledging that engineering internships can be difficult for underclassmen, Yuelan Zhang, Next Jump, suggested leveraging your skills in other types of organizations like nonprofits.
She went on to say, “Different experiences are not a deterrent.”
In fact, they present an opportunity to develop a strong narrative for interviews.
Stand out beyond technical skills
Teamwork, coachability, and enthusiasm were the themes of the evening. Panelists agreed that beyond technical skills (which can be learned on the job and continue to change as technology evolves) they are mostly looking to see if applicants can work in teams, learn on the job, and demonstrate passion for the workplace.
Employers are seeking open mindedness and curiosity. “When working on teams, people might have different ideas of how to approach a challenge.”
It’s important to be open to the perspectives of others and be communicative when working on a team.
Get Comfortable with Collaboration
Emphasizing just how important teamwork is, Christine Djan, Arcadis, stated, “Everything I do involves other people.”
More so, panelists discussed that “enthusiasm is critical” for both an organization and the role to which you are applying.
They suggested being able to speak about what the organization is working on and showcasing genuine interest help candidates stand out.
Consider whether an advanced degree is needed
When it comes to the need for advanced degrees in engineering the consensus was… it depends.
For most roles, advanced degrees are not necessary. Technology changes quickly so adaptability and proactice learning speaks louder than an advanced degree. Although an advanced degree may mean a higher starting salary, organizations focus more on how you develop yourself on the job.
For specific roles, an advanced degree might be favorable. One panelist mentioned that they work in Research and Development at a large company where “70% of staff have PhDs.” So, depending on the type of work you’re looking to do, an advanced degree may be necessary.
Organizations in Attendance:
14 organizations joined us including:
|Arcadis||Cuono Engineering||OnPrem Solutions|
|Capital One||ExxonMobil||Red Balloon Security|
|Crossix||Next Jump Inc.|