I’m 6 months out from graduation at the moment, and starting to ramp up for my job search. I just finished a search for a summer design internship, which was unsuccessful, so I’m trying to figure out what my mistakes were and what I can learn from them.
I’m approaching this as the biggest project of my life, so I figured I would start a sort of project thread. I’m hoping that this format will allow for a bit more context in the responses, less total threads, and a more complete picture of a job search for students. I can post my failures and mistakes so everyone can learn from them. I have a tendency to overthink things, so forgive me if I ramble occasionally. I’ll do my best to edit down.
Mods: Please let me know if this is inappropriate for the boards, or belongs somewhere else.
A bit about me:
Rather than taking part in the typical “high achievers” curriculum in high school, I avoided taking biology in favour of auto and design tech classes. I was listed as one of the top 60 math students in Canada, based on annual tests they put out, and got to travel to attend special seminars on advanced topics within math.
I got offers with scholarships to every university I applied to, but decided not to go to the “best” one because the isolated location would limit my enjoyment of life outside of school. Life’s short, so I never want to simply be toughing it out. Canadian education is so highly regulated that there’s not much of a difference, but reputation still means a lot. I’m near the top of my class currently, and slated to teach a seminar on advanced CAD techniques for the students going into their final semester capstone.
I’ve been a bit frustrated lately, because I feel like I’ve been pushing incredibly hard and spinning my wheels, while friends I used to tutor are now working/interning at Facebook and Wall St.
My wish list (prioritized):
- Huge, cool city (London or NY preferably)
- Opportunities to be creative (not just “make this manufacturable”)
- As small as possible (to create mentorship opportunities, I know I’m still learning)
- Concept through production and/or broad range of products (opportunities to be a generalist)
- Next semester is our capstone project. Typically the scope of this is somewhere along the lines of: 3 person team, design an engine for an amphibious vehicle, 4 month timeframe. This likely won’t leave me much time for the search, so I’m hoping to have most things prewritten so I can send them out at the appropriate times.
- I’ve always said “if it’s not life and death, it’s not worth worrying about”. However, I view this as a task that could significantly affect the rest of my life, so I will likely be a ball of stress for most of it.
My first set of questions:
- In my previous search I often applied way too early, they would tell me when to contact them back, then when I did, they would say they hired already. If you were looking for a hire to start at the beginning of January, what would be the perfect time for initial contact?
- From the same search, I know my skills are up to par, and I’m connecting logically, but not emotionally. Do you have any examples where something the candidate said/wrote connected with you emotionally, and pushed them above everyone else?
- I know it’s tough to generalize, but is there a trait you consistently must correct in junior design engineers? If I can point out that it’s already corrected, I may be able to set myself apart.