Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-13-2021 11:41 PM
    I've had a really hard time landing an engineering job after college. I've been stuck living with family and working a warehouse job to get by, and I feel like I can't get a job due to lack of experience and time since college. What can I do to get back on track?

    Andrew Wilson, EIT
    Winston, OR

  • 2.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-14-2021 10:12 AM
    Hey Andrew,

    Don't be discouraged!
    It can be really tough especially with some jobs for fresh graduates requiring 5 years experience.

    Firstly, reach out to your friends and family and let them know you're looking.
    Next reach out to your former classmates, older graduates, and alumni. Let your former professors know you're looking as well.

    Keep networking! You can meet many recruiters or other engineers on LinkedIn who will be more than willing to help. Just ask if they have time for a quick phone call to find out more about their experience, their job, or their company. (Don't ask for a job directly.)

    Try looking at company websites and look for people to contact who works at that company who you may know. Ask them for a referral. Referrals go a long way in many firms.

    You can also apply to the general company websites (you probably have already) but those are hit or miss.

    My main point is don't get discouraged and don't give up! You never know from who and where your next opportunity will come from.

    Try reading  "The Two-Hour Job Search" by Steve Dalton. He has some great pointers.
    I made a YouTube video a while ago explaining these steps: How to Get a Civil Engineering Job or Internship

    The fact that you're posting here and putting yourself out there is already a great start! Keep it up!
    I hope these tips help. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn to chat some more.

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 3.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-14-2021 10:12 AM

    Having graduated right after the downturn in 2008, I can empathize.
    Most companies I know are hiring right now. Posting here is certain to get you some action.

    Where are you searching for opportunities?
    How are you submitting resumes? Are you submitting cover letters?
    Have you had your resume professionally looked at?

    Are you taking any classes on the side of your warehouse job to continue to develop your engineering and/or related skills to show companies you are investing in your own technical development during your time of difficulty?

    Are you willing to travel/relocate?  AND does your resume reflect that?

    My company is hiring:

    Matthew Reihl P.E., M.ASCE
    Regional DIrector
    Chadds Ford PA

  • 4.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-14-2021 01:15 PM
    Depends on what field you are looking to go into. Some ideas thought might include the following:
    • Volunteer with local chapter of ASCE or another professional organization
    • Do meaningful research and publish
    • Look for jobs that are a bit different (for example technician jobs, construction, etc.) but still related
    • Look for jobs in different locations (some small companies don't post online on the big websites, try reaching out directly)
    • Explore presenting your resume differently, practice interview skills regularly
    • Upgrade and update your skills through additional schooling or teaching yourself
    • Obtain additional professional certifications related to your field of interest (use these to 'fill in the gap' on your resume)
    Job hunting can be difficult. In particular for the first job where your experience is limited. One thing that can help is to develop a network of friends and acquaintances through volunteering and interacting with others. Those who are working can be more 'in the know' about upcoming job opportunities and also can give you pointers on what companies are looking for. Finally, don't forget that companies can be very slow with the hiring process. Larger companies in particular can take months to process through resumes, make decisions, and contact you to bring you in for an interview and then months more to make a decision. Smaller companies sometimes don't post openings online or just on their website. Keep looking, get creative about where you look (perhaps local county jobs, state jobs, construction jobs) and stay motivated.

    Good luck!


    Alexander Wright P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Professional
    Rancho Cordova CA

  • 5.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-15-2021 04:12 PM
    Everyone here has posted some great suggestions for you to follow. I would specifically add that you should make sure your resume tells the best "story" about yourself that it can, and details whatever in your life would make you a good fit at a job. This doesn't have to be previous professional experience, but even just classwork and lab experiments.

    Another suggestion is to try to refresh yourself on any terminology you may have not heard since your time in school. ASCE has free webinars for members to watch. Some of these may help you find a direction you want to go, or delve deeper into the field you are interested in working.

    Finally, I suggest this to everyone - it never hurts to know a programming language. R or python are great languages to try and both have lots of online support and trainings.  R has a free package you can download called "swirl" which will let you learn R, in R. A  great way to learn is to find a task that you would otherwise have to do manually, and find a way to automate it. This could even be something that you or your manager at your warehouse job currently do by hand (filling out spreadsheets, organizing inventory, tracking spending, etc)

    Good luck!

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 6.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-15-2021 04:13 PM
    Andrew take some deep breaths. I understand how you may feel as I graduated in 2009 when the economy was in a difficult spot. You may have to open your geographic area in the near term before landing your preferred career spot. For instance I had to do a lot of traveling for my first 5 years. This was not my ideal plan but these experiences helped shaped my career moving forward.

    On a separate note, my firm is having a hard time finding qualified applicants for open positions. I would shoot your shot and apply for positions where your think your experience falls a bit shy. Based on our recent hiring, the applicant pool is not as deep as some would lead you to believe and your lack of experience may not be as detrimental as you think.

    I would also consider internship positions which would be an upgrade from the warehouse and aid your lack of experience.

    Good luck!

    Parker Suess P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer (Structural)

  • 7.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-17-2021 02:59 PM
    Thanks everyone, lots of great advice. One of the things I struggle with is having that engineer mindset when I'm not around engineers every day. How can I feel like an engineer again?

    Can I even take on an internship position if I'm not in college anymore? I might not mind a short term position if it helped me get my career going and relocate to a better area.

    Andrew Wilson, EIT
    Winston, OR

  • 8.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-18-2021 10:14 AM
    Hey Andrew,

    Keep your head up. I can empathize because I was recently between jobs. I had success after utilizing LinkedIn, updating my resume and talking to my ASCE mentor. I recommend starting a free trial of LinkedIn premium and enrolling in LinkedIn Learning. Spend time earning certifications through LinkedIn Learning to beef up your resume (AutoCAD, Construction and others). These will also help keep you in an engineering mindset. I recommend changing your profile settings to "Open to finding a new job." This will let recruiters know you are open to opportunities. Spend time updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. I found great videos on Youtube explaining how to best format your resume. I recommend finding a mentor. My ASCE mentor coached me through finding, applying and negotiating my new position. Let me know if you have questions. I would be happy to talk on the phone if you have questions on my recommendations.

    Rafael Estrada Moncada P.E., M.ASCE
    Construction Engineer
    Saint Paul MN

  • 9.  RE: Feeling Lost

    Posted 09-27-2021 08:01 AM
    I would say that "yes" a good number of companies would consider hiring your for an internship even if you've graduated. Communicate your situation and desire to get into the field and you may be surprised how many people can empathize with your situation and give you a chance. I would say on your resume to specify that you are looking for a full-time position but are open to internship opportunities as well.

    One of my best friends had to move home after college and was working at a golf course. After months with no luck he landed a great job and has been promoted a few times in the last 5 years. Don't lose hope.

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK