Of course, no matter what specific field you go into, there’s bound to be a decent amount of stiff competition. So, regardless of where you stood throughout your college years, you’ll still have your work cut out for you when it comes to landing a job after graduation.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so. It simply means you’re going to have to put a bit more effort into your job search – that is, more effort than your competition.
Here’s how you can get started.
How To Grow An Engineering Career
1. Know Your Worth and Where You Fit
You’ve probably heard of the catch-22 where “you need experience to get experience, but you can’t get experience if you don’t get hired.”
While this is true to an extent, it’s more important for you to understand that you’re probably not going to walk into a high-paying position right out of college. We’ll get back to this in a moment.
The good thing is, recruiters and hiring managers know recent grads don’t exactly have all that much “real world” experience; in fact, they’re not even looking for it. What they are looking for are candidates who show potential for growth, and who are willing to put in the effort necessary to prove their worth as they get started in their careers.
So, you definitely don’t want to overlook the entry-level positions that you might not absolutely love – but that will allow you to build on your educational experiences and provide the real-world experience needed to move up in the world.
2. Always Be Networking
We can’t stress this enough:
When looking for your first out-of-school job, you absolutely need to keep your eyes open at all times, and always be looking to connect with individuals who can lead you in the right direction.
- Staying in touch with former classmates, teachers, and advisors
- Tapping into your personal network
- Using online channels such as LinkedIn to widen your reach
However, while you definitely want to “plant the seed” that you’re looking for a job, it’s important that you don’t simply use these relationships to get ahead. Rather, your goal is to build authentic, mutually-beneficial relationships with those in your network, and let the opportunities come to you naturally. If you make it clear that you’re simply looking to use others as a stepping stone to greatness, you’re absolutely not going to end up where you want to be.
3. Don’t Overlook Internships
For some, the word “internship” may not be all that attractive, as these individuals typically equate it with “unpaid/underpaid labor,” and nothing more.
While internships definitely don’t pay as much as full-time positions (and sometimes don’t pay at all), the opportunities these positions open up can make it well worth the initial sacrifice.
As we said above, most companies looking for engineering talent aren’t going to look to recent graduates for anything more than entry-level positions in the first place. However, for those who have completed internships, there’s always a chance that said firms may make an exception. In other words, a half-year or full-year internship may be the ticket to landing a high-paying job much sooner than their peers.
Furthermore, internships provide yet another opportunity to grow your network. Again, the more people you know who have first-hand knowledge of your expertise, the better.
Additionally, and perhaps most obviously, internships allow individuals to prove their drive and commitment to their profession to prospective employers. For example, say two individuals who earned the same degree with the same grade point average apply for a single position…but only one of them has an internship under their belt; which one do you think has the better chance of getting hired?
Also, it’s worth mentioning that some firms and fields require applicants to have experience in an internship. Needless to say, a lack of an internship will basically close a decent amount of doors for you.
4. Engineering Competitions
One potentially overlooked avenue for finding an engineering job out of college is to enter engineering competitions related to your chosen field.
By participating (and winning) these competitions, you’ll be able to put your theoretical knowledge of engineering into practice in a semi-real world situation. You’ll also be able to hone your soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well.
Moreover, these competitions are basically a hotbed for recruiters. That said, if you’re able to showcase your worth during such events – and follow your efforts up by connecting with the various recruiters in attendance – you’ll almost certainly be able to find gainful employment in the near future.
What makes Panther Professional the ideal career partner?
We focus on what you want most from your career! Choose the flexibility of contract work, make smarter choices with contract-to-hire, further your career in direct hire roles. Twenty-five years in the business has given us the experience and connections to help you reach your goals. We’d love to partner with you and your career! Explore these great opportunities, here, and apply today!