Australian Mechanical Engineer thinking working ID in the US

Hi all,

Greetings from downunder all :slight_smile:, Great website!

I am about to finish my mechanical and manufacturing engineering degree and am considering moving to the United States to work for a industrial design company as an engineer/designer. I have done a couple of years of Architecture also, so I have some background in design. I am good with Solidworks in particular and have work experience in the manufacturing industry. I plan to make a shmick folio in the next 6 months before heading over and seeing what happens. I will try and line up a couple of interviews before I leave Australia…

A few questions:

  1. whats the state of the industry at the moment over there(thinking of heading to LA specifically)? Are jobs abundant?

  2. Is a person of my qualifications going to be sought after?

  3. Any tips for me to make me more attractive to employers?

  4. Am I crazy for just packing my bags and heading to your country to look for a job?

If all goes well I will need to return to australia with an official job offer to gain a visa to work in the US before flying back to work…

Any help would be advice would be greatly appreciated…


Depending on your sources, the economy in the US is bad or worse, although certain locations and industries still seem to be doing fine. Overall, there is a recession taking place, and in most areas jobs are not abundant. Being on the opposite side of the country, I don’t really know what things are like in LA. If nothing else, you will have an overwhelming amount of competition for openings posted online, and with so many qualified people around, being outside the country will be a major handicap.

I often see openings for “design” engineers, so you may want to explore that in addition to ID. These positions are more engineering than design (or completely engineering), but it could be a way to “get your foot in the door.” Most of those positions are looking for experience with Pro/E, not Solidworks. With an engineering background, you may not be exactly what employers are looking for in an ID’er, but if you have a solid portfolio, and good sketching ability, your engineering background could be a plus. The way employers have been reducing head-count lately, someone who can do engineering and design would seem to be attractive over two employees to do those jobs - provided a company is looking to hire such employees.

Obviously, there are plenty of people who are looking for a job right now, so this is not the best time to be seeking employment. For reasons I don’t understand, we have a special category of visa (E3) just for Australians, with a very high cap. So it should be a lot easier for you than it would be for someone from New Zealand, or even Canada.

One technicality though: if you enter on a visitor visa, you are not allowed to even seek employment. On the other hand, we have millions of illegal immigrants so odds are it’s extremely unlikely you would get in trouble for doing this. But I would be quite careful what you say to immigration officials at the airport.

More practically speaking, anyone who is hiring right now will have a big pool of candidates to choose from. Why should they go through the trouble and expense (the visa costs them money) of trying to bring in a foreigner? If you can come up with a compelling answer for that, you might have a shot.

On the surface, you’re a recent graduate with a little bit of experience, and people like you are very common. I would say either your portfolio needs to be incredibly compelling, or you need to be willing to work for less than the going rate. But who knows, you might have great charisma, or just get lucky. Lots of people get jobs over better qualified candidates for all kinds of reasons. If it’s something you can afford to do, there’s no reason not to try.

I think it’d be pretty tough to land a job these days. It might help if stated you were moving to LA (if that’s where the job was) which meant all moving expenses were paid for/no airfare/etc. by you…

Most people don’t want to sponsor a visa.

However, feel free to apply… nothing can hurt!

Thanks for your feedback…

Scott, I really want to utilise the E3 visa to get over to the states as it was introduced specifically to encourage people like myself(have a degree) to go over to the US and work. thanks for the tip on “not looking” for a job while on holiday visa.

I guess with any job there is going to be a large pool of candidates and if I was here or over there I would need to impress to get the job. I agree with you that I am going to need to be exceptional as I am a larger risk. I guess what I am getting at is if companies will even consider me in the first place. I thought being aussie will make me stand out too.

I am planning to be over there around July and hopefully can apply for some official openings before I leave and alsogo directly to studios and hassle them.

I am looking to be an engineer, not an ID at a design firm. I thought this would be less competitive? Maybe this is naive thinking but I thought that this might give me better odds because I know that most other engineers arent even considering to get into this sort of field. They are focusing on consulting, construction, mining and resources etc etc…

A broad question to finish off:
what do engineers actual do for an industrial firm? I have never actually had the chance to meet someone in this position…