In this episode of The Structural Engineering Channel podcast, we will provide some tips for students as they prepare to visit structural engineering career fairs. We ask that you please share this episode with structural engineering students you know, to help them prepare for what could be, one of the most important points in their careers!
Here Are 7 Actions That Students Can Take to Prepare for a Structural Engineering Career Fair:
1. Research Companies Ahead of Time and Don’t Go Blindly Into the Fair
- A good strategy to follow when you are planning to attend a civil or structural engineering career fair is to research the companies you are interested in approaching at the event.
- One of the worst things you can do is approach a company at the career fair and ask them who they are and what they do.
- Doing research ahead of time will ensure you make a strong first impression when you approach companies.
2. Have a Story Coming In, a Clear Goal, and a Plan
- Think of this step as preparing for an interview.
- Being able to explain WHY you want to become a structural engineer will show companies that you are a serious candidate who knows what you want and where you want to go.
- This allows you to present yourself much more credibly and believably, and makes you much more personable.
3. Be Personable
- You can be great technically, but if you are not-personable and people battle to get along with you, companies might not select you.
- Civil and structural engineers deal with people every day, so it is important to be personable and likable.
- Having the ability to get along with everybody on a team, no matter what level they are at, is a big indicator as to whether or not you will be able to fit in.
- To build your communication and speaking skills, you might join Toastmasters International, an organization that helps people improve their public speaking skills, as doing so will give you a big boost in your confidence level. You can also get involved in any kind of leadership volunteering activity, which will also help to increase your confidence level.
4. Determine How You Can Add Value to a Firm as a Student
- Work hard to acquire engineering internships so that you can show companies that you have done more than just attend classes. If you are just going to class, you really can’t stand out from anybody else.
- Getting involved in associations or committees shows: initiative, that you have leadership skills, and that you can work on a team.
- Going the extra mile and getting involved in these organizations will also allow you to build those people and soft skills that you won’t learn in school.
5. Code Knowledge, Design Classes, Design Experience, and Extracurriculars
- If you can’t get more familiar with the code and design, try to do something to show that you are going that extra mile to learn these guidelines.
- Organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) have outlets, such as online articles and newsletters, that you can read to stay up to date on the industry (including code updates). Just knowing about this during a conversation at a career fair tells people that you are keyed into the industry.
6. Know Who You Are Talking to Ahead of Time
- It’s important to know which companies are going to be at the career fair and what the size of the company is to determine who the right person would be to talk to.
- Your chances of getting a job at a small to mid-sized engineering company are usually higher than at large companies.
- Try to talk to the decision-makers of the companies when possible, and leave a good impression of yourself during that conversation.
7. Be Yourself
- If you are someone who has a sense of humor, use it. If you have a certain skill or a talent, use it.
- When we try to be someone we are not, our nerves can kick in and can make it even more difficult to interact with these companies.
- If you don’t know something, be honest about it; be curious and ask questions.
This episode is brought to you by CSI, Computers and Structures, Inc. which is recognized globally as the pioneering leader in software tools for structural and earthquake engineering. You can learn more about them at www.csiamerica.com
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on how you can prepare for your next structural engineering career fair.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP & Matthew Picardal P.E.
Hosts of The Structural Engineering Channel