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nrME (Mechanical) (OP)
20 Jun 11 17:27
Hi everyone,

I am about to finish up my MSME.  I have focused on polymer composites and would like to find work in that area (or closely related).

I have no experience in industry, so I am very unsure about a few things:

1) How important is a P.E. for mechanical engineers?  I know a civil engineer (has his P.E.) who insists that it is essential to the future of my career.  I thought it was good to have, but not quite as essential as he made it sound.

2) With only an M.S. is R&D a dead end road to go down?  Also, is it common for R&D positions at smaller companies to include a lot of SBIR/STTR proposal writing?  Is that experience valuable to future jobs or does it lock you into a less technical career path?  (for example will that experience not be counted if I wanted to change jobs to a design position somewhere else?)

I appreciate any answer and advice you can give.  My adviser and other professors are pretty useless when it comes to advice regarding the complexities of trying to make a career in industry.
SWComposites (Aerospace)
20 Jun 11 19:25
1) How important is a P.E. for mechanical engineers?
> unless you are designing equipment for public buildings, etc, then if you work for a company you most likely don't need a PE and having one won't make much of a difference.  Don't listen to the Civil's - they live in a different world.  But if you ever think you are going to be an independent consultant, then you will need a PE to legally advertise yourself as an engineer, even if you are consulting for industrial firms.  So take the FE exam now while the material is relatively fresh in your mind and take the PE exam at some point.  If you work in an exempt industry then you don't have to work under a PE to be able to take the PE exam's (don't listen to the Civil's on this either).  Note that the Mechanical PE exam has nothing on it related to composite structure or anything built with composites (like aircraft, wind turbine blades, etc) so you will have to restudy a bunch of material that you likely won't have used in your job but which appears on the PE exam.

With only an M.S. is R&D a dead end road to go down?  
> no, lots of industry R&D engineers have a MS

Also, is it common for R&D positions at smaller companies to include a lot of SBIR/STTR proposal writing?  
> depends on the company; but not uncommon. Proposal writing is a good skill to learn.

Is that experience valuable to future jobs or does it lock you into a less technical career path?  (for example will that experience not be counted if I wanted to change jobs to a design position somewhere else?
> the experience can be valuable; it also depends what else you do at the job.  At many small companies you will do a mixture of design, analysis, testing, proposal writing, procurement, etc, while at a large company you are likely to specialize in only one area.

SW


 
lacajun (Electrical)
20 Jun 11 20:19
Two industrial companies I have worked for require the PE for promotions.  It will open doors that otherwise would be shut.  I would get it re: and do it ASAP because you do forget things over time because you're not using them often enough for retention.  You are young and life is dynamic; therefore, you have no idea where your life will go.

R&D is not a dead end minus the Ph.D. but it will be much like life minus the P.E.  Some doors you may want to walk through, in the distant future, may be shut.  However, there are always exceptions to the rule and you may be one.
tygerdawg (Mechanical)
21 Jun 11 6:58
P.E. is necessary if you do "public sector" stuff where you have to take on the liability.  I have a P.E., but have spent my career in manufacturing & R&D.  I have never stamped a drawing, nor had the need to.  But having the "P.E." after my name has indeed set me apart from the rest of the crowd in certain situations.

I got the Master's also, and it was useful.  Not having a Ph.D. never came up because that would lead me to an area I never wanted to go in anyway.

STTR/SBIR work experience could be useful in its own way, and that is learning how to write & communicate well.  It might look impressive on a resume...for those who knew or cared what it was.

TygerDawg
Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering
www.bluetechnik.com

nrME (Mechanical) (OP)
24 Jun 11 18:08
Thanks a lot everyone.  I appreciate the input.
T0rque (Mechanical)
26 Jun 11 15:14
As a relatively new MSME myself I can't answer your specific questions, but I can give you some general advice. Hopefully, my observations and advice will be useful to others too.

If you haven't applied more many jobs yet, you might not like what you find. I received my MSME in the spring of 2010 and have yet to land a job. The job market is saturated with unemployed engineers who have decades of experience. Until these people find jobs, the prospects for most new graduates will remain pretty grim. After massive layoffs, companies have learned they can do just as much with fewer people, and so corporate profits have rebounded without the job market following. With few definite things on the horizon to spur real GDP growth, I expect this situation to persist for the foreseeable future.

To have a good shot at getting hired, a new graduate needs to possess all or most of the following (in order of importance):

1) A minimum GPA of 3.5
2) A degree from a well-regarded university
3) A strong Internet/social media presence

I haven't done well in any of these aspects, and consequently I get no response to nearly all the applications I fill out. I kid you not, I'm happy to get one response from a human for every 100 applications I submit. I've gotten two interviews so far and no offers after hundreds of applications.

I knew when I started college that choosing the right university and having a high GPA were important, but at the time they weren't as important as they are now. I chose a good, but not great, school to save tuition costs. I maintained a good GPA, but didn't torture myself chasing a stratospheric GPA, because anyone at the time could get a job with a 3.0 GPA. Also, I have a love and passion for engineering, science, and math and didn't feel like I needed to show off by getting a 4.0 GPA from MIT. Alas, that was before we ended up in this job market quagmire.

These folks with super-high GPAs from elite schools will generally be hired first. Most average engineering students are shut out of the job market for now. If you don't meet these criteria, you might consider doing something else for now. As for myself, I've been serving coffee at the local coffee house for the past six months. I can't help but laugh that a girl I went to high school with, who was in special education classes and never went to college, is now my boss. She's the manager and makes well over double what I do. She drives a new convertible to work. I drive the same rusty 3-cylinder Geo Metro I had in college.

I can't stress enough how important social media has become for job seekers. I haven't done well in the social media arena because I don't want to give up the privacy that participation in social media demands. I've spoken to several hiring managers I know personally, and one of the first things they do after glancing at your resume is Google you. If they find anything negative or you don't appear on the first search results page at all, they move on to the next resume. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at a minimum. You also need to participate vigorously and have lots of friends, followers, and connections. Hiring managers are increasingly checking your Klout and PeerIndex scores. If you don't believe it, read this.

Participating in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is just a minimum. You need to have a bigger Internet presence to really compete. If you wrote a thesis, make sure it is accessible on the Internet. Write conference papers and journal articles that Google Scholar can find. File patent applications for Google Patents to find. Have a personal website with information about you, your resume, and details about projects you have worked on. Have a blog and update it often. Try to get something you did Slashdotted or at least featured on Hack a Day. In short, Google can make or break your career.

Keep in mind a lot of jobs ads are actually fake. Companies prefer H-1B workers and will post these fake job ads to help show they can't find qualified American workers. This video shows how it works. I wish I knew how many of these jobs I've applied for.

If you can make all these things come together, you have an excellent chance of getting hired even in this awful job market. If you can't make it all work for you, don't give up. You never know--you might get lucky. Maybe you can do well in an interview and have a good rapport with the interviewer. Never give up.

Good luck,

T0rque  

 
nrME (Mechanical) (OP)
26 Jun 11 16:14
Well, I am ok on GPA (3.75) and am doing my masters at a pretty good school (was ranked in top 50 last I knew).  I have gotten a couple responses / interviews to jobs so far which isn't too bad since I have applied to tons of places and have focused my search in a very small region.  However, these are r and d positions and I haven't heard anything from design or process engineering positions that I have applied for.  It really is a tough market right now.  I am sorry to hear that you have been having such a hard time finding a job.

I had not heard that social network stuff was important.  I do not do any of that for privacy reasons and don't plan on changing that anytime soon.  Interesting to know though.
CRG (Mechanical)
26 Jun 11 16:49
I believe that T0rque  response about, "(3) A strong Internet/social media presence" is wrong.  Social networking stuff is not important, having a quality skill set, realistic confidence of the skill set, and a pleasant-concise way to project that confidence goes a long way.

A few other thoughts:
1. Find the professional organizations that the folks you want to work with embrace, then join the organization.
2. Look for professionals in the area of work that interests you and ask them for advice about what skill sets you should consider working on while you look for a job in his field.

When I started out looking for work with consulting engineers, I found the owner of a firm that spent over an hours discussing what the future needs of his business were and what the industry required/desired.  In addition, he made recommendations as to what skill sets that I could work on while looking for work.  Two months later, I had three job offers, and one of them was from him.  Perhaps he offered his help because I asked for information outlining the industry instead of saying I was looking for a job.  Anyways, while he was helping me understand the industry, he was also giving me an informal interview.
Helpful Member!(2)  GregLocock (Automotive)
26 Jun 11 19:12
T0rque's post was truly terrible, I strongly advise any unemployed recent graduate to have their mind wiped after reading it.

Just as a matter of curiousity, if you want to build a strong Internet presence why are you posting under a pseudonym? Or do your parents have a weird sense of humour?




 

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies  http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

T0rque (Mechanical)
26 Jun 11 22:48

Quote (GregLocock):

T0rque's post was truly terrible, I strongly advise any unemployed recent graduate to have their mind wiped after reading it.

Just as a matter of curiosity, if you want to build a strong Internet presence why are you posting under a pseudonym? Or do your parents have a weird sense of humour?

Well, actually, I'd say my parents have more of a twisted than weird sense of humor. winky smile No, as I said, I value privacy over an Internet presence. If I don't find a job in a few months, I guess I'll have to start Twittering like it's 1999. As for now, I'm still hoping to get a job somewhere that hasn't latched onto this social media craze.

I know four people who are heavily involved in hiring at four different companies. I've asked them all how they use social media. All four of them use Google and other search engines to find information about potential new employees. Three of them use Klout in some way. One doesn't have specific Klout score expectations but believes higher is better. The other two are hesitant to hire anyone who doesn't meet their minimum Klout score expectations.

I was initially surprised they put such a premium on people who use social media. After all, we've all heard stories of employees getting the boot for things they've posted online. When I prodded them as to why they care so much, I got essentially the same answer from all of them. They want employees who are charismatic and embrace new technology. They believe that a good Internet presence means you are likely to be a good leader and unlikely to be antisocial. One hiring manager said he wants people with type A personalities, and he thinks heavy social media use is a better indicator of that than demeanor during an interview.

I don't like it, but social media habits are being analyzed and treated a lot like a credit score. Everyone knows that silly three-digit credit score has a lot to do with whether or not you get a loan. The same thing is starting to happen with social media and employment. Here's another example of how this is happening. Social media background check services are even being regulated under the same laws enacted for credit reporting agencies.

Anyway, I think it is still possible to find an engineering job without a high Klout score, at least for now. Not everyone has jumped on the Klout bandwagon yet, but social media sure is changing the world fast. I'm starting to feel a little left behind.

T0rque  
MacGyverS2000 (Electrical)
27 Jun 11 8:04
T,

Unless you're looking for a job in social media, using most of it to advertise yourself is the wrong call, IMO.   LinkedIn is fine, but Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. are the wrong media types to be using... the former is specifically tailored towards career communications, whereas the latter are geared almost exclusively towards friends, gossip, etc.  Companies may be using these social media sites for research on potential candidates, but it's to determine if you have any dirty laundry, not in an attempt to find candidates.  Huge difference.

The "fake" ads from companies wanting H1Bs doesn't make sense to me, though... how could you possibly know you're being turned down because the ad is fake?  If you knew the ad was fake in the first place, why waste time applying?  Or are you assuming that since you weren't called back for an interview they must be fake?

I do agree, however, with your suggestions on ensuring your thesis material is online (never bothered with mine, truth be told, but I don't seem to have much of a problem without it), patents, etc.  These are materials that show hard work, independent thinking, etc.  The online versions will provide the hiring company with a way to look up info listed on your resume, but will likely not lead to a hook by itself, i.e., a company is not going to approach you because you have a Googleable patent or thesis unless their needs are very specific and you fit the niche.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

csd72 (Structural)
27 Jun 11 10:31
Sounds like a very shallow technocentric way of looking at things.

What if you are too busy for social media because you are leading teams climbing mountains in the himalaya or something? I could think of thousands more things that are better indicators of leadership attributes than having a good social media account.
vandal06 (Electrical)
27 Jun 11 16:52
I suspect that T0rque doesn't have any industry experience through co-ops/internships, and that's why he's finding it difficult to land a job.
lacajun (Electrical)
27 Jun 11 22:23
I know an author that is a "lion" behind the keyboard and literally a church mouse in real life.  I know quite a few people who come across as "great" online but in real life not so much.  Some are pretty dysfunctional and sometimes that has come across online, too, but they fairly well behaved in person.

If you are busy doing all the social media, you're not doing engineering or living life.  Social media has its place but it's not the real purpose of life and should be a small part of life.  Nothing can take the place of good old fashioned human interaction.

If HR or anyone outside of HR is putting that much emphasis on online presence for engineers, they don't understand engineering.
Twoballcane (Mechanical)
28 Jun 11 10:33
Torque, I see where you're going with this, but from the many careers advise that I have read for professionals I did not see anything on having a strong online presence.  Actually it is the opposite, other than your resume and such, that you have a small or positive online presence.  Maybe they meant that you have a strong online professional presence?  As in college projects that are featured in online magazines, your name mentioned in a group or yourself award, or your name mentioned for helping the homeless.  If the job you want is being a blogger, then I can see it as a plus, however, if you are knee deep in design and analysis, the last place your employer wants you to be is online socializing or blogging.   

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."
"Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"  

cksh (Mechanical)
28 Jun 11 10:53
If I had little to no experience, I believe the most important things to finding a job are, geographical location, personal sacrifice, and making sure your name is out there on the job boards, and cold calling.

Location: I am in SE Michigan, so while we have lots of people out of work, there are still an incredible amount of job postings for engineers, which is one reason I have always had a job.  There are other places I would rather live, but I would lose money, and there might not be enough jobs in that city to get a new one if I was laid off.  Know your job market, what you want to do, and what city would give you the best chance of getting that xp.

Sacrifice: Move, take a pay cut, anything to get your foot in the door to get that xp at someplace that will get your career started.  It is easier when you don't have a family.  If you are really hurting you might need to stray off course for a while. I still believe any xp is better then nothing.

Job boards (this incluides monster/careerbuilder etc).  Most jobs are not even posted, but companies still search them.  So make sure you updated your resume weekly to keep it at the top of the boards.  I got my current job because the manager called me after reading my resume on monster.

Cold calling:  Sometimes I think this is a lost art.  Research companies you may want to work.  Try to find out as much as you can.  Send them yoru resume, or give them a call.  What can it hurt?  So many companies have careers listed on their website, and some even allow you to post your resume on their site.  Take advantage.

I don't have a problem with social media, but keep it clean.  So much can come back to bite you.  This is right up there with putting hobbies on your resume.  If you want a professional job, you don't want some employer reading about your latest party, political affiliations, or favorite team.
csd72 (Structural)
29 Jun 11 10:09
Okay, some general advice that I would give every engineering graduate that asked.

1. Dont be too fussy about the exact type of work - you are a graduate and any employment in this climate is a bonus - you can always find a better job when things improve. I specialised in soils at uni but most of my work has been in building structures - two very different fields.
2. Dont come across as too arrogant - as a student you know a lot, but as a working engineer you know nothing. This is not a bad thing just the way it is, if you have to pretend that you know everything to get a job then that is probably a good sign that they will not mentor you.
3.Make sure that you tailor each application to the specific job description. Highlight what life skills you have gained from managing the university tiddly winks team or whatever.
4. If all else fails get work in something related. One of our graduates used to work as a bricklayer and this often helps him understand how things are done on site - not engineering experience but relevant nonetheless.
 

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