Any engineers at makerspace that can give some advice?


#1

Any engineers here at the Makerpsace know or can share how they got their first job? Recently graduated with my bachelors in engineering last May and been just looking around applying through job boards and going to fairs for entry/intern level work. I’ve had a few interviews from Raytheon to TxDot but nothing concrete in terms of offers. It’s been bad just doing applications, going to graduate classes, and working on my small projects at the space while waiting if anyone’s gonna call back. Just trying to get my foot in the door sometimes while imagining its trying to slam shut.

Also anyone else who reads the news feel like the media has been misleading when it comes to promoting that STEM fields are in demand? Like it seems fields are looking more for established professionals than new grads to fill their ranks and train for their niche skill requirements. Maybe its just confirmation bias but its seems that several people I knew from high school that’ve now graduated from medical, comp sci, and engineering are still looking for work or continuing school from the lack of it.

Thoughts?


#2

What is you engineering degree? Where did you go to school? What kind of work do you want to do? The best way to get a job is to work your contacts. Where have your engineering friends gone to work?

My son got a degree in Environmental Science, which was supposed to be the “HOT” degree at the time. He graduated with honors from Baylor University. He applied at a lot of environmental science companies and the government. He was just looking to get his foot in the door and couldn’t. He got several companies who were interested in him, but they wanted 2-3 years of experience.

He’s a great computer guy, it has always been a hobby, and had worked for me during the summers when I was the CIO at several firms. He parlayed that experience into his first job as an IT tech. Now he’s a senior IT tech at a software company. He considering going back to school for a Masters Degree in computer science, too.

The point to that story is that you need to use ANY of your contacts and be willing and open to entry level work even if it isn’t your chosen discipline. The CEO of Medical City Dallas, LTD where I worked as the CIO was a Mechanical Engineer by education. He didn’t always do ME work.

I also believe very strongly in building your Linkedin contacts. Send me an invite on Linkedin and take a look at the my contacts and I’ll help if I can. The best I can offer though is an introduction not a recommendation since we’ve never even met.


#3

Aerospace. UT Austin. Primarily systems engineer work as that’s what most grads seem to do with that degree but anything with guidance, navigation, or sensors will do as I’m working on a remote sensing grad cert and have some experience in it. Though don’t wanna limit my search to that if it means having a finding a job. Of my friends that work they either find something small digging through company business directories applying/calling, got in with familial connection(have family in business, no engineers sadly), or they’re the extraordinary individuals that have the right mix of good academics, project/interns, and likability to get something lined up at a big engineer firm before they graduate.


#4

I sympathize.

Whenever I look at job listings I get the impression that there are perhaps 10 people that have ever lived - or ever will live - that the employer might condescend to interview for the position. Some of this is a cynical defensive maneuver so the employer can actually reject candidates for lack of qualifications, some of it is Human Resources inserting wholly aspirational requirements independent of the actual requirements, and some of it is an unreasonable expectations in hiring that perfect candidates simply appear out of the aether. On the latter point, employers seem increasingly reluctant to develop people for entry- and mid-level jobs, expecting the educational industry - and prospective candidates - to move mountains to anticipate their needs and invest often-irrecoverable resources into meeting this need only to see it vanish as the next fad takes over.


#5

I will say though as some one who has hired hundreds of people over my career, that it is very disheartening when you spend corporate resources training the “newby” all the while paying them only to have them quit when they’ve earned enough money to buy that new Xbox, as one employee did, or to pursue another competitor.


#6

Funny thing about retention - you can improve compensation, working conditions, whatnot for that existing employee, or make similar concessions to a new hire. That employer that lured away your employee likely did so because they just had the same thing happen to them on the backend. It surely costs less to acknowledge this reality and retain that employee you’ve invested in than to hire new.

As an observer of the economy I’ve noted that while traditional indicators the financial media blather on about look good, other indicators like labor participation, cost of living, real wages don’t. So long as shareholders insist on the largest possible slice of the pie this retention dilemma will continue.

Anyway - this is all a bit OT, so I’ll leave this line of discussion.


#7

Have heard some of those horror stories first hand through a friend of my mother’s in HR. I can understand the sentiment if they’re afraid of people leaving or being a bad investment. I’ll take about anything and stick around if it means paying back my loans and the ability to continue my education/training. Keep thinking back to the free rider problem when it comes to training and imagining it can’t be good for a generation of the workforce that can’t find companies willing to take them on.


#8

I was interested in Electronics while in High School but my grades were not good enough for College. Now this was 50 years ago when the Selective Service (the Draft Board) was drafting folks due to the Vietnam war. Didn’t want to wait around and get drafted in the Army so I joined the Air Force a few weeks after High School graduation. Joining the military was rather scary at first but looking back it was the best thing that boosted my career. I was an Electronics Technician in secure communications. I still went to Vietnam anyway for a couple of short tours. After 4 years in the military I started College, it took me 5 years to complete my Electrical Engineering BSEE Degree and the government paid for the entire thing using the GI Bill. No student loans at all. Got my first real job as an Engineer at Texas Instruments, my military experience and very high security clearance was the door opener. I retired from TI after 22 years. Started working for another Electronics company for 10+ years and retired again 2 years ago. That company still cannot find my replacement and has since called me back again after retirement as a consultant. The jobs are out there. There is too much job competition out there with the larger firms as everybody wants those jobs. Suggest you try the smaller companies, maybe not the greatest in pay and benefits, but it’s a start. You can have my job … I still want to retire again.


#9

This is one of my friends on linkedin. We served together in Aircraft Maintenance in the Texas Air National Guard. He’s a great guy.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-ramsey-6020474a/

Send him an email with your resume and tell him Dan Henderson suggested he contact you. He may not be able to get you hired at his firm, but he may know someone looking for an aerospace engineer.

Add everyone you meet to your linkedin profile and update it with everything you’ve done so far. Projects, summer jobs, etc.

The best way to get hired is to work with or for someone you know.

Lastly, if you want to work somewhere in particular find someone who works there and see who the real person to talk to is.

Linkedin will help you find someone who knows someone. It is almost NEVER HR who will get you hired. More likely they will be a filter for the hiring manager.

I can tell you as the CIO, I hired a lot of people HR never sent me. HR did the paperwork, of course, but I hired them. Sometimes I’d check with our CEO to make sure he was cool with it, but I almost always just hired who I wanted to. Where did I find these people I hired? From friends or others within my organization that new them or had worked with them in the past. Why is this important? It is impossible in an interview to get a really good idea of work ethic, problem solving and interpersonal skills which are essential in today’s business climate. (I know you can get an idea about these in an interview, but nothing compares to real world knowledge)


#10

Many of the listings at my employer are published externally because they are required to do so, even though they have an internal candidate in mind for a promotion. So the listings are written to give that person a leg up but not entirely eliminate the possibility of finding a more-qualified candidate.


#11

Is there anyway in especially for clearance type stuff short of joining the military. I have mad respect for some good veterans I know and honestly would have loved to go air force officer if not for parents. Been overhearing young veterans in their late twenties at job fairs with extensive resumes, degree, and clearance in hand and you can hear it in the job recruiters voice at fairs when they get excited that they don’t have to worry about training or getting their clearance. 4 years of regimented lifestyle just seems rather daunting and afraid that some things could pass me by in that time. Could definitely give a year or two to the AF or if it was some civil arm of the military that gave clearances. Benefits looked great though.

I’ll gladly take that job eventually if I can find where the foot of the ladder is.


#12

Cool, thanks for the advice.

I can work a contact I know; I’ve done it many times before for other things. I have had the advice to see the real people in at friend’s place of work or try LinkedIn contacting/cold calling. Just how do I approach them without seeming that I want something from them since they’re practically strangers?


#13

It’s not out of the realm for that. It’s pretty normal for employers to want 2-3 year of experience. It can be difficult to get your foot in the door. I suggest as others have said, use your contacts. Use the University for placement, be prepared as you may have to move where the work is. Lockheed might be hiring.


#14

If you’re looking for a job, tell them someone they have in their linked list of contacts is a friend of yours. Tell them you recently graduated from UT and are looking for a great place to work. Tell them you are interested in proving yourself and are more than willing to take any entry level position they have. You need not be embarrassed to ask for a job.

Trust me when I say that if they have a profile on Linkedin you won’t be the first to contact them this way.
You need to do something to make your contact stand out though. Something exciting you did perhaps like work on a project at UT involving a professor using his grant money etc. Perhaps something you did extracurricular which demonstrated leadership.

Finally, UT has one of the largest alum networks in the country. Don’t be afraid to work it. Other engineers that have graduated from the same program know what your degree requirements were and probably appreciate it more than anyone.


#15

Security clearance is not hard to get for a young guy, especially if you’re clean drugs-wise. You just get hired on and wait around for the paperwork to clear.

If you’re interested in aviation, it’s hard to miss Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. They’re building F35s like crazy last I heard.


#17

When I graduated, admittedly in the olden days, all I did was craft a cover letter with the resume and send to 50-100 companies. It worked for me. In addition to what you’re already doing, figure out what kind of organizations and groups you would like to work in and send out an email/resume to dozens of engineers and engineering managers directly. You can use journal publications to find the interesting groups and they usually have the emails of the lead authors.

I suggest contacting researchers or engineering teams that do great work and publish it because you can find them, vet them for your interests and then contact them directly. You can even call them and ask about their research and projects, showing interest in their work, not just asking for an interview. Forget trying to go through PR and each companies system. Be original. For example, if you wanted to work for Tesla, go pester the Tesla people at Northpark for details, designs and contact info for their development teams but in a manner that isn’t groveling for a job but showing real interest in the technology and company. Then contact them with interesting questions and start a discussion.

P.S. SpaceX might also be a great place to work with your degree.


#18

Since you have been called in for a few interviews, your credentials were apparently good enough to get past that initial hurdle. Don’t overlook the interviewing skills needed to stand out from other similarly credentialed candidates. If they interview 3-4-5 people, they are likely to have similar majors and GPA’s on paper, its the person they need to get to know and learn about. Personal characteristics will be equally as important to the interviewer when looking for someone to fit into their team. Use your University Placement Services endlessly, as well as friends and contacts in non industry related business to seek out mock interviews. Many people will be glad to share 60 mins for a mock interview as they know the importance of the candidate presenting themselves well in that short, high pressure situation. Repeatedly practice for those questions like “Tell me about a time you…” The responses must to be smooth, but not canned. This Linked In article is generic, but covers many of these items. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140808224446-70006878-the-job-interview-15-must-have-character-traits-and-the-questions-you-need-to-ask . Work as hard at the job search and interview prep as you would at the actual job and that will show thru. Be prepared for the interviewer question…“I know the job market is competitive, what have you been doing since graduation to maximize your chances for success?” Best wishes on your quest!


#19

I’ll second Rich’s observation about the military as an alternative route to a career and college.

I went through ROTC at UCLA as an undergrad. Got paid the of about $465/mo in today’s dollars ($100 in 1975) for a couple of years, plus half a second lieutenant’s pay at summer training - this truly was slave wages worked out to about 25 cents an hour). Served my active duty time, went to law school and graduate law school on the GI Bill getting about $1,100 for GI Bill plus $600 in reserve duty ($342 + $200 in 1980 $$). Only had about $16,000 in student debt ($5000 1980).

A yute coming out of HS can go with a technical specialty: avionics, electronics, radar repair, air traffic control, signals-cryptologist,etc. Bonus, most of these you will come out with at least a Secret Security clearance and some with a Top Security. If you are certain fields of science or especially defense contracting these are absolute gold for getting hired. Since 911 it can take forever. Prior military service makes it much easier.

Or go Medical; Medics now come out as EMT-2’s, all kinds of licensed tech’s: X-ray, ultrasonic, medical equipment repair technician, etc.

All of the above you get paid while being trained, the training is paid for, you come out with 2-3 years experience. Plus the military pays your college costs while on active duty. Current GI bill pays over $1,800 (= about 25 hrs/week @ $15) a month when you get - plus reserve duty if you want a very part-time job.

Going into the military absolutely is NOT for everyone. If you have a sense of entitlement or lack of commitment - avoid it, I mean really avoid it. There are not participation trophies, and you may get shot at … and HIT. May go to some real nasty places or some really cool ones (Panama Canal Zone for me - Paradise Lost). But you’ll also find that old Vet network is strong much stronger than Old Boy network. Women Vets and military service shows the ability to commit to something. If you come as a officer you’ll have 2-3 years of management experience. Day one at your unit you’ll typically have 15-44 troops to manage and millions in equipment.

Not for everyone - but you can do a lot a whole worse with 3-4 years of active duty that trains you in technical skill.


#20

Definitely keep going through the school. Companies that want grads send recruiters to the schools. Or – it used to be that way decades ago.


#21

I agree with the folks who advocate working your network of contacts. In addition to that, I have some additional thoughts; and some questions (for you to ponder, not necessarily to answer here).

  1. If I were the hiring manager, and I received 500 resumés, what would make yours stand out in the first 10 seconds?
  • Chances are you’ll be lucky to get 10 seconds before being sorted into the “no interest” vs. the “merits reading” pile.
  • “Your father’s resumé” probably won’t get you noticed.
  • Forget the cliche buzzwords like “results oriented”, “self-starter”, etc. Everyone else knows those words too.
  • Consider something innovative - like a graphical or pictorial resume. But try not to be “cute” with it. And under no circumstances should you include a photo of yourself - the HR folks will censor that in a heartbeat.
  1. What sets you apart?
  • Do some introspection - determine why you are a good choice for a prospective employer - then sell that hard and sell it early.
  • If you can’t think of anything, then the employer probably won’t see anything either.
  1. Forget about the folks that have 2-3 years experience and focus on what you have to offer.
  • Given a choice, every employer will select someone with 2-3 years experience. They’re not your competition, because you can’t beat them. Sorry, but that’s the truth. So don’t beat yourself up about that - get past it and focus on you.
  • Your competition is other new grads. Employers will have to pay experienced candidates more than new grads so if they have multiple positions they will likely include some new grads in that crew. You need to figure out how to beat the other new grads.
  • As a tangential thought, I suspect - but I do not know - that smaller companies are less likely to take a chance on a new grad. The larger companies seem like a more promising avenue for a first job, but realize they will also receive more resumes for those jobs.
  1. Parlay your hobbies and interests into something that is relevant for a prospective employer.
  • You have to stand in their shoes and think about what you would expect if you were the hiring manager. They want someone who can be productive (almost) immediately - so how do you fit that description? What can you offer there?
  • Remember - you’re trying to distinguish yourself from the other new grads.
  • If your resume had a photo of a guidance sensor from your homemade rocket project (at the very top), with the title, "I designed and built this guidance sensor that did blah blah blah fantastic … " it would make me read your resume. It would make me think that you learned some useful stuff in school that would apply to the job.
  • A photo of a major school project you completed in your senior year could possibly be “sold” in the same manner. But be careful not to take credit for the team’s work - make sure you identify your specific contribution(s).
  • Since you’re not working now, use your opportunities at Makerspace to generate something that looks like experience on a resumé.