How to Land a Job at an Engineering Company with Little to No Experience
As recent research from Higher Education Research Institute has shown, more than a third – roughly 36% – of first-year students in the United States plans to major in science and engineering, while less than 10% of college freshman intend to concentrate on engineering proper.
While ten percent doesn’t sound like much that still means that once you finish college, you’ll be competing with tens of thousands of other students for a job.
If you’re a young engineer looking for your first opportunity to show off your knowledge – you shouldn’t worry too much – there’s plenty of job opportunities out there for you.
And things are only going to get better. According to research conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. job openings in the engineering field are expected to increase significantly in the next couple of years because about 25% of the current workforce is nearing retirement age.
What are Employers Looking For?
Young job seekers now regularly receive conflicting messages from career advisors. Some people are telling them that robots and AI are going to replace our technical skills while others insist that concrete skills are still a hot commodity. So which one is it?
In all honestly, in order to land a job as soon as you get out of school, you need a mix of both. In the day-to-day work of engineering, people skills are almost as important as technical skills. These skills, along with emotional intelligence are often not learned in school, but they still enable professionals to navigate through a wide variety of professional situations.
When you ask someone about soft skills, things like collaboration and leadership mostly come up, but there other soft skills that are barely mentioned but still matter in the business world. And if your career choices change over time, these soft skills will make you a desirable candidate for many types of jobs.
Skills That Will Help You Find Your First Job
· Quantitative Expertise
As you already know, data is slowly becoming the backbone of companies across many industries. Therefore your ability to gather, study, interpret and make sense of company’s data, no matter what your preferred position may be.
You, of course, don’t have to become a full-fledged data scientist – although, according 16% of them have an engineering degree according to Burtch Works Study: Salaries of Data Scientists. However, modern employers will value your ability to review all of the data you have in your possession and create a clear, actionable plan based on it.
Once you have the ability to dig deeply into the numbers, you’ll ensure that your company has a visible advantage over the competition. You can always find a data analysis course online – Udacity and Udemy are great sources of data-analysis information – and during your job interview, make sure to mention that you have some experience working with data.
· Problem Solving
Problem solving, or as some people refer to it “critical thinking” although vague, is one of the most desirable skills. According to a survey conducted by American Management Association, more than 70% of employers thinks that problem solving skills are crucial to their company’s success.
The business world is changing faster than ever before, which means employers are looking for people who could quickly react and adept to these changes, without compromising the company’s workflow. Basically, employers are looking for innovators who have the ability to look way beyond the status quo and bring improvement to their business.
Unfortunately, we have no real “how to” guides for developing problem solving skills. However, there are ways to boost problems solving and creative-thinking abilities with online resources like the Design Thinking Class at Stanford d.school.
· Communication Skills
According to a survey conducted Millennial Branding few years ago, “communication skills” topped the list of must-have skills form employers. As a matter of fact, staggering 98% of business leaders said that communication skills are an essential requirement.
Employers nowadays want to be sure that you’ll effectively represent company’s brand when communicating with clients in meetings, emails and phones, as well as communicating with your colleagues on a daily basis. And more importantly, they want to be sure that you’ll be able to share your point of view in a precise, professional way.
Of course, these skills take practice, and the best of developing communication skills is to have as much interaction with industry professionals as possible. Therefore, you should look for companies that offer engineering internships in order to get some experience and further develop your skills.
Lastly, you should always keep in mind that engineering, in addition to being one of the most exciting and potentially lucrative professions out there – according to numbers provided by Michigan Tech, an average electrical engineer makes slightly below $100,000 per year – it’s also highly demanding.
In certain industries, you can get your break in a wide variety of ways, but engineering, like a number of other science-based careers is far more rigid in the terms of entry path.
Most employers on the market require potential employees to not only have relevant qualifications and education, but also to show some evidence that they possess other, mainly soft skills. However, with the soft skills we mentioned above will enable you to find a job quickly, allow you to start working on your first project and kick start your career the right way.