Getting Experience

My name is Elsa and I am considering a degree in Electrical Engineering. I would really appreciate help in a question I have about this degree. Part of my research involves looking at job openings. A common theme I notice is they all require 2-10+ of experience. How do newly fresh graduates woman engineers get their foot in the door? It almost seems impossible. Your help is much appreciated.
Thank you, Elsa
posted by Elsa on April 2, 2012

Answer 1 by Ms Erin Fitzgerald

Hi Elsa. In electrical engineering, as for I'd assume all engineering fields, one of the best ways to get your foot in the door is through your university Career Center. As you consider what college might be best for you, I would ask questions of staff and students there to find out whether there are well-attended technical job fairs during the year for students, and how many students get internships during the summer. For strong technical schools, many competitive companies interview for entry level jobs directly through the university. In my own experience, three-month summer internships are not only valuable resume builders (and wallet stuffers!), but they allow you the rare chance to try a job you might like and see if it's something you want to continue with in the future. My first internship after my freshman year of college took a lot of work to get (as I still had no real experience) and mainly involved menial technical tasks, but finding the second and third gets easier and easier as you build contacts, learn how to ask the right questions, and of course learn real world skills that employers appreciate! A sidenote: internships are a great way to experience living briefly in a completely new place as well! (My internships were in NC, OR, and Seattle.) When you're done with school and looking for jobs, chances are that your opportunities will be all over, and it's valuable to know your regional preferences (I found I love the Pacific Northwest, for example!) and what it's like to live and work somewhere new. Hope that helps! -Erin

Answer 2 by Yasmin Hashambhoy

Hi there, Elsa. It does seem difficult to get your foot in the door right after graduation, but there are a few things you can do along the way to help you out. Have you thought about summer jobs in engineering? Or internships? Some schools have co-ops set up so that you can work for a semester or two during your degree. You might want to talk to your professors too; sometimes they do consulting on the side, so maybe they can set you up with a job. You might try talking to alumni as well; a lot of times, they are willing to give a break to graduates of their alma mater. I hope that helps a bit. Take care, Yasmin

Answer 3 by Meredith Short

I can't really speak specifically to electrical engineering, but for any discipline, don't really look at external job advertising. It gives you a good sense of opportunities and career development, but almost all companies have recruitment programs where they target college graduates--they don't expect you to have years of experience. One thing I strongly recommend are summer internships--these are invaluable. They help you make up your mind about what you like and don't like, as well as count for quality experience when interviewing for a full-time job at graduation. Talk to your college or colleges you are interested in about their career services offerings--they are one of the best sources of information and help.

Answer 4 by Maryam Ali Al Thani

Dear Elsa, Yes you may find that is what they say they require but they do take fresh graduates. It is easier to start working at a big organization where they recruit fresh graduates. At these organizations, they invest in fresh graduates and develop them to take lead positions in the future. Such as GE, GM, Schneider Electric, etc. My advice is not to worry much about work now, but keep in mind that you need to spend some time as an intern during your undergraduate study. By being an intern at one organization or two, you will know where to go for work after graduation. Wish you all the best :) Regards, Maryam