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Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

(OP)
I just want to start off by saying that if this is the wrong area to start this thread, I'm sorry; I just recently created this account, and don't know exactly where to put it, or if it even has a place here.

It's been about a year since I've graduated from my school with a chemical engineering degree. I've been searching for job within the last year, but to no avail. My grades were great, and I've even graduated Magna Cum Laude. However, when it comes to job searching, I've seen to have some difficulty. I've consistently applied to jobs pertaining to chemical engineering all over the United States, and gone on multiple interviews to just be turned down. Now that it's approaching a year without a chemical engineering job, I'm starting to feel a bit distressed and worried.

I'm basically here asking what I can do to improve my chances to getting a job as a chemical engineer, or what I should be doing. I've been following up on interviews, and constantly sending my resume out. I wouldn't mind volunteering my time as a Chemical Engineer, but I don't exactly know where to go. Any help is appreciated, and thank you in advanced.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

I feel for you - I know this is stressful and demoralizing. There's probably a reason you're having this problem, and I suspect that you may know that reason. If not, call the folks who have interviewed you and see if you can get them to give you honest feedback. By default, I think people will not be inclined to reveal the true reason - there's concern about legal repercussions, and few people are comfortable giving negative feedback. Then focus on what you can do to address what you discover from this feedback. Personally, I would not mention to a potential employer that you'll work for a period of time as a volunteer - that sounds desperate and you don't want to give that type of impression. Find the source of this problem, do what you can to address it, and continue contacting potential employers. Perseverance will probably pay off - it usually does.

The current demand for engineers is such that they should be able to find a job, although it may not be their ideal job.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Fresh grads in Canada have a hard time finding work as engineers. But people at the top of their class can usually find something, and almost certainly find something if they're willing to relocate. So you likely do have a problem- something that puts off people in an interview. We don't know you, and you may or may not be aware of the problem, but others who know you well might be willing to try to help you figure out what it is.

This is one of the big benefits of co op education- it gives you lots of experience with resumes and interviewing, before you graduate.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors in chemical engineering and had some difficulty finding an engineering job. I worked as a chemical plant operator and then a shift supervisor for about a year before landing my current engineering job. I value this experience because I have seen what comes of good and bad engineering (bad = back breaking work and/or trying to quell a group of frustrated workers, good = talking about partial pressures for hydrogenation reactions and reactor design with the plant engineer). Consider this route to get experience in manufacturing but it will be hard work both physically and mentally.

The other posters are right to advise you on reflecting on your interviewing skills. I had problems always trying to fill dead air while I thought through questions I was asked. This resulted in sloppy answers and non-sensical small talk; I had to become okay with taking my time to think and accepting that if the interveiwer couldn't respect my thinking process, then I wouldn't fit in at that company.

Best of luck.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

(OP)
Thank you everyone for your helpful tips. It will definitely help me on my next interview.

@ Don, I think you misunderstood me when I mentioned volunteer work. I know that I need the experience in order to get a job, but I was more or less looking towards a group that does engineering work which is strictly volunteer work only. Something like Engineers without boarders. Just something to make my resume look better. I wouldn't actually want to work for free. Though I definitely agree that saying I would work as a volunteer would make me look desperate, and I would not do that. Thank you for your advice.

@ Moltenmetal - Thank you for your willingness to listen. I do admit that it may have something to do with my resume or my cover letter. Though I often think its the lack of experience, and that's what causing the problem. It's either that, or the fact that I've been searching for a year, and now I seem inadequate compared to other fresh graduates. I guess that's what has me currently down at the moment.

@jari001 - I have noticed that with most of my interviews. I feel very under pressure as soon as they ask a question, that I have to answer it. I know now I should take my time on the questions to think out the process. I would love to work as a chemical plant operator, if I could land that interview first. Haha.

Thank you everyone for your input. I'll do my best to use everything you've given me.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

jonton0021: I think you said you were getting interviews but not converting these to jobs. In that case, your interview style is at fault, not your resume or cover letter. Talk to your friends, but you can also get professional help with interview skills.

If you're not getting interviews, look to your resume, cover letter and more importantly, all the other things you could or should be doing to get yourself in front of people who are hiring.

If engineering is what you love, going the route that jari001 took is a very good one. If engineering isn't what you love, you might want to start looking outside the profession. Frankly it's where most engineering graduates here in Canada end up now, and it has been that way for at least a decade.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

(OP)
@ Moltenmetal: It's a bit of a combination of both. There are some interviews I've landed thanks to friends of friends, but it seems as if most jobs that I apply online are passed by. And that's what I'm trying to figure out at the moment, is how to get more interviews. I'm reaching out to some of my friends who have jobs, comparing their resumes to mine, and of course asking around to see if there are any more openings.

Engineering is what I love, and truly I would like to be in a position that he/she is in. I don't mind going that route, but I'm from the US, and don't most chemical plant operators require experience? Like I said, it seems that my experience seems to be bogging me down a bit. I only have a years experience as a process engineer, and it doesn't seem to be enough.

But talking about it has helped me see what I'm doing wrong a bit. I'll take another look at my resume, and see if I can revamp it again. Thank you for all your help Moltenmetal.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Kudos to you, jonton0021, for expressing your appreciation to those who have responded; far too often here individuals post a question to which they get some decent responses, but never bother to either offer any words of thanks or provide any feedback as to whether the info was useful.

In my view, perseverance in your field, with perhaps being willing to cast a wider net at first, might prove useful; I recently heard from an old acquaintance/friend whose son is in much the same boat, an eng'g grad unable to get his foot in the door anywhere, even with the help of his Mech Eng dad. Hang in there!

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

(OP)
I'm simply trying to be professional, no matter whom I'm talking to or what it's about. But it's somewhat good to know (or bad, depending on how you look at it) that I'm not the only one struggling to get a job. The fact that most of my other friends had jobs made me feel as if I was somehow failing in life, simply because I had not gotten a job in my field. Though this is a small comfort, I can't let it slow me down in trying to get a job in my desired field.

I have tried to cast a wider net as you've said Crshears, though it has lead me to some sales jobs, which I wasn't particularly interested in. As of now, I'm open to almost anything Chemical Engineering or Engineering related. Thanks for sharing Crshears, and if you have any other recommendation or experiences to share, I'd love to hear them!

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

When I graduated with my chemE degree in 1995, I renewed my 1 year lease on my apartment. This was stupid, because it meant if I got hired and had to move I would lose my deposit! Well, my backwards philosophy worked and I got a job offer and had to move a couple months after graduation. The silver lining was that the company that hired me paid for me to get out of my lease:)

So, forget logic, maybe you need a talisman or good luck charm?

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

You should not limit your search to chemical companies or the manufacturing sector. Insurance companies that deal with commercial accounts also have a need for chemical engineers and if that is a path of interest expect to also learn about insurance. With commercial insurance companies you will be exposed to a myriad of businesses and you'll be learning about the world until you retire.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Come to Europe, we are a lot better at chemical engineering anyway :)

Joking aside, honestly take a global view if the US isn't offering anything up then the world is your oyster and engineering is a global language. Places like India, China and the middle east would love to poach you away from the USA, you just have to take the leap and don't fool yourself that language is any barrier.

Dan

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Whilst sales may not be your ultimate aim this could still open doors for you so don't dismiss sales outright.
Obviously there are many different aspects of sales jobs and some employers would be better than others.
But it gives you some work experience, it might give you some contacts in industry and it pays the bills for a while.

Regards
Ashtree
"Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money"

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

You may want to check out State and federal government positions. Working as an environmental engineer, I'm working with engineers with agriculture, chemical, civil and mechanical engineering degrees. Additionally, have you tried working with you college/university about job placement. Additionally, some professors may also do consulting on the side and you could see if there was any possibilities of working for them.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

I would do this:
Take each prior interview and contact them. Thank them for their time and request if they can offer any feedback to enhance your suitability as a candidate.

They might not respond, but they may. That feedback, fair or unfair, will be valuable. Take it with a grain of salt because that portion of feedback that is appropriate to share may not be the "reason" they chose another candidate. But it was something they took note of and that's enough to consider.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

(OP)
Thank you everyone for the good responses. However, I just want to let you know that about a month ago, I landed my first job in the field of chemical engineering! It's more in sales, so I'm taking one out of ashtree book, but overall, I am enjoy every aspect of it. It's a very comfortable environment, and I'm making new connections just from talking to customers. Thank you everyone for all your support. You're welcome to post more, but I appreciate everything everyone has said to me. Thanks for all the help everyone!

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Congratulations!

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

I understand that getting a job is essential, even if it's a job in sales - we have to pay the bills. This may suit you just fine. Be aware, however, that your future marketability is affected by the job(s) you choose. Jobs in sales can pay very well, but it's a fundamentally different career than that of a practicing engineer. Others may disagree, but I think the average practicing technical engineer has more job security and marketability than a salesman. We're all wired differently. That is, we all have a different tolerance for career risks. Not knowing you, I can't give objective advise that's suitable for you. But if security and marketability as an engineer are important to you, then I suggest using this sales job as a temporary stepping stone to a job in industry. After you've built experience as a practicing engineer you can always transition to sales, however it doesn't work the other way around. As the years go by, with experience only in sales, your ability to market yourself as an engineer will continually decrease.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Well done!

A job in engineering sales can be converted back to a job in engineering if you care to do so, and you don't stay in the sales role too long.

It's a far better choice if you want to return to engineering than taking a job in finance etc.

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

Congratulations on the job.
While i agree with everything being said here don't forget sales is also an important part of the overall product cycle , equally as important as the engineering at the other end. Of course its going to depend on what you are selling and who you work for but being an engineer at the front line can really open your eyes to what the customer wants, what issues the customer is having and perhaps give you an insight into the solutions.

Sales is so often a two way street between the customer and the manufacturer and having engineering knowledge can increase the opportunities that present themselves. Likewise some sales jobs require a fair degree of engineering capability and understanding to best satisfy the customers needs. Sometimes the best solution for the customer (but also the long term relationship with that customer) is to recommend a product that you don't have. But there is a fair chance that customer will come back to you next time .

Even if you use this job as a stepping stone to something "better" use it also as an opportunity to work with customers and learn from them. Because no matter where we are in the food chain, without a customer we are unemployed.

Regards
Ashtree
"Any water can be made potable if you filter it through enough money"

RE: Chemical Engineering graduate who needs help.

"Sales is so often a two way street between the customer and the manufacturer and having engineering knowledge can increase the opportunities that present themselves. Likewise some sales jobs require a fair degree of engineering capability and understanding to best satisfy the customers needs. Sometimes the best solution for the customer (but also the long term relationship with that customer) is to recommend a product that you don't have. But there is a fair chance that customer will come back to you next time."

An engineer in a Sales role will have challenge and opportunity. Challenge in trying to keep up with fickle customers who don't seem to respond to logical situations, and opportunity in that customers can develop a deep trust in your competence. You never want to be sophomoric and pretend you know enough technically to handle all questions by yourself, rather, you can use your technical background to fully understand the question and its importance to the customer and how to accurately convey the answer.

David

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