Q: I am an engineering student graduating in two years. All the job postings I see are for entry-level engineers ask for experience. How is a student supposed to gain all of this experience while committed to studying and getting good grades? Shouldn’t entry-level mean entry-level?
A: Congratulations on earning good grades! I can understand your confusion. Shouldn’t entry-level mean limited experience? Well, sort of.
Employers expect even entry-level employees to have some work-related and practical experience. How is that possible?
- Most students participate in some type of job-related internship during their undergraduate career. Typically, it is during the school year, but sometimes it might be during the summer months. A student can gain valuable technical experience, particularly in engineering. A student can also learn how a professional work environment operates. Of course, each workplace has their own individual norms, but understanding how an office operates can be useful.
- Summer or part-time jobs can often yield relevant experience. Even if the role is not an ideal long-term career choice, it may offer experience in a target industry. The name of a well-established employer on your resume can make a recruiter stop and look at your resume more closely. Consider connecting with a temporary placement firm. They often have short-term gigs which might offer you some opportunities to build your resume.
- Many students volunteer at organizations, where they can build skills and professional contacts as well.
- Student organizations. Most colleges have hundreds of student organizations. You can gain leadership and event management experience.
- Career services. Contact your college’s career services office. Local employers will often list opportunities with career services.
- Personal and professional contacts. Start building contacts now. Almost daily, you are interacting with professors. These professors may know of opportunities within their network.
- Put up a shingle. Start working as a freelancer. Build a website. Offer blogging services.
There are many ways to gain experience. Truthfully most employers are expecting some experience at the end of a four-year degree program.
Happy Labor Day to all workers in the US. Do you know when the first Labor Day was celebrated? In New York City on September, 5, 1882.