Graduation is just around the corner and many electrical engineering students will be joining the job hunt. Fortunately, you'll be better off than somebody with a liberal arts degree; electrical engineers have one of the lowest unemployment rates among all professions. Still, there's a huge difference between being employed in your field and having a career that you love. Here are some tips to help you bridge that gap.
Make a LinkedIn Profile
You've probably heard of LinkedIn already, and you might even have one too. LinkedIn won't replace your resumê, but it's a nice central hub for you to store your accomplishments and endorsements from colleagues. It allows you to link to any work you have that is anywhere online, as well as any documents you would like to upload (like your resumê). It's also nice because it will assist you in your job hunt by sending job openings at companies your way.
A lot of these results aren't the most relevant, but occasionally, some good ones will come your way. What's more important is that LinkedIn lets recruiters from companies find you. Your dream job might figuratively fall into your lap. The only downside to LinkedIn is that you'll have to deal with some people who shamelessly network and self-promote, but in the digital age, you'll probably just have to make peace with that.
Get Recommendations from Your Professors
We've all heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know". Unfortunately, it's said so much because it's true. Many graduates have been passed up for jobs even though they were more qualified than the person who ended up getting it, simply because their competition made friends with the right people. It may not agree with you ethically, but it's a reality of the situation. If it helps, don't think of it as sucking up or being a brown-noser; think of it as evening the playing field. If you don't have anyone to recommend you in the professional world yet, reach out to your professors, they're usually happy to help... You won't regret doing this sooner rather than later.
Your professors can be your greatest allies. Image from University of Rochester
Study Up on Your Potential Employer
Technical interviews for electrical engineering are becoming more and more standard. If you know which department you're applying for and what you'll be working on, study up on your potential employer's design structure for the components in question. There's a good chance that you'll be asked to give input on some specific blueprints. Jan Sisson, who has conducted many technical interviews herself gives some good pointers in an article she wrote for Target Jobs.
Interviewing is a skill in itself, with enough practice, you'll feel as confident as Vince Vaughn in this stock photo
Get Your Work Out There
Getting your work published online is a great way to stand out from the crowd, and it's easy to add to your LinkedIn profile. Getting your work published on a website with some prestige can go a long way, and you can usually make some extra money while you're at it. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend looking into writing for All About Circuits.
This is not only going to help market your skills, but it will also help improve writing and communication skills, which are in extremely high demand along with your electrical engineering prowess.
Shameless plug... write for us!
Don't Stop Applying
A lot of people make the fatal error of taking their foot off the gas pedal when they get a few promising interviews lined up. A lot of employers will exaggerate their interest in you simply to garner more interviews. Somebody is much more likely to show interest in a job interview if they hear something like "based on your resume, you're one of our top candidates." Don't believe them, even if you've made it to a second or third interview. A lot of larger companies have internal guidelines for interviews, like needing to interview a certain number of candidates even if they've already made their decision. Nobody would go to a job interview if their potential employer said "We've already picked our candidate so this is more of a formality". Employers are going to tell you what you want to hear, so don't stop applying until you've signed the papers and began your new job.
Some Parting Words...
The task ahead may seem daunting, but you won't be alone. If you're looking for more advice, we recommend asking in the AAC forum, you'll find lots of successful and experienced engineers with a wealth of advice. If you're an established engineer and you'd like to bestow some wisdom on these upcoming graduates, leave some pointers in the comments!