Entering the workforce can be a daunting notion regardless of industry, especially for those seeking highly technical roles in engineering. Our colleagues at Planet Forward provide suggestions for landing that first engineering job out of college, and Byensi Ndorelire, who recently accepted his first job out of college as an Entry Level Civil Engineer, shares some tips for making that first job a success.
Landing Your First Job
“Starting out, I highly recommend looking at technician roles. Oftentimes those are easier positions to secure as a recent graduate and can be leveraged into an engineer-titled position later on. While large companies provide great stability for engineers, smaller companies can provide recent grads with a faster opportunity to move up within the company.”
—Michael Thomassen, Business Development Manager
“The quality of your resume will improve your chance of getting that interview you’ve been hoping for, so make sure it is very detailed. Recruiters are often searching for relevant experience and keywords in resumes when identifying qualified candidates for engineering roles. Keywords can be different types of software, certifications, training, engineering concepts, etc.
In addition, your jobs/internships will only help you land that job if they are fully represented on your resume. So don’t be shy in sharing your experience!”
—Joey Sekula, National Recruiter
“I’d recommend recent grads get their name out to as many companies as possible. While you may want to get hired directly with that big name company, it’s beneficial to look at organizations of all sizes. Consider contract roles and understand that your first few jobs out of college are more about the experience you gain than the overall salary. Experience gained now can lead to even better offers down the line.
“Also be sure to touch up your resume. Include all professional experience (even if it seems irrelevant), software skills and industry-specific experience.
“This last part goes for all engineers, but really focus on soft skills for the interview. A company will be impressed with your communication/soft skills and ability to hold a face-to-face conversation just as much (if not more) as they’ll be impressed with your technical abilities.”
—Dominick Delia, Recruiter
On-The-Job Tips From a Recent Grad
“Be motivated! It is very exciting to find the job you spent years in college qualifying for. Show how motivated you are by showing up early and ready to do your part as a team member.
“In the beginning, it might be hard to know what to expect or what a day in the life of a professional will be like. Stay attentive and allow yourself to be guided by someone more experienced than you. When unsure, do not be afraid to ask questions.
“It is important to stay current with industry trends. If you have knowledge of emerging trends, you become even more valuable to the company as they seek to implement them into their processes.
“Use some of your free time to practice or refresh your technical knowledge. This will help you stay confident and current with industry trends, software, and other tools.
“Soft skills learned in the past, even at jobs unrelated to engineering, are still important as most engineering work is about teamwork.
“Use the resources made available to you, they are there for a reason. When stuck, do not be afraid to ask questions. I have met many experienced professional engineers and they are mostly nice and approachable (unless they are too busy). I’ve found they are always ready to help with answers and more.
“Above all else, these three things will help you grow professionally regardless of your role: Be humble, be a good listener, and accept the constructive criticism you receive.
–Byensi Ndorelire, Civil Engineer
with contributions from Scott Muttilainen
Image credit: Canva