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New Civil Graduate Advise

New Civil Graduate Advise

New Civil Graduate Advise

My son graduated last Sunday with a BS is Civil Engineering. I need to give him some advise.

He had been working (intern that would turn into full time) for 2 Civil PEs doing petroleum remediation. He was working part time making $15/hour. The job varied from monitoring/sampling to manual labor, handling haz mat and . He liked the job and employees. I finally got him to nail down what they were going to offer him for full time this week. They offered him $40k salary (they work commonly 60-70 hours per week), with $5k for health care and 12 days leave per year. The other students in his class were getting offers ~$55k-$60k per year. He has not submitted any resumes (he thought he had a job). At $40k / year it would not have much left after living expenses in our area. I can support him during a job search. What should I recommend to him?

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

I don't know much about how $40k and $60k translate in Florida.

It sounds like this current job doesn't really apply his CE degree. Is it taking him where he wants to go in life (career path)? If he does enjoy civil engineering and wants to make a career out of it, he needs to get his foot in the door for a career path now.

There's a lot to be said for having a job and coworkers that you like. That said, if it isn't putting much on the table and/or isn't going where he wants to go in the future, that's pretty hard to justify at that age.. at least for long.

The name is a long story -- just call me Lo.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Strictly looking at the offer: that's a pretty low offer, especially to be familiar with the company, their processes, etc. I'm guessing his initial duties will be to continue what he's doing in his internship and "slowly" creep into some engineering responsibilities - I would be curious what their plan is to transition him to actual engineering work for them. On the surface, I'd say politely pass and start the job search - perhaps see if he can continue in his internship with them until he lands something. As you know and, as he does too now, he should have been handing out resumes and networking at least his last semester (sooner, really).

An alternate viewpoint - what is his opinion? Does he absolutely love the work and find it fulfilling? If he's truly happy doing it, and sees a future in it, perhaps starting off at the low end of the totem pole is acceptable to him? I understand you're looking to give him advice, but I also recommend hearing his thoughts and not inadvertently swaying him from something he really wants (if that is the case). There's a lot of value in being able to get out of bed every morning and look forward to your day at work - on top of the compensation which comes with it.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Does the offering company pay OT? If so, that (~$70k) may not be as terrible as it sounds so long as he's willing to work the hours. Regardless, I would say he needs to take the job, get out on his own, and figure things out for himself (aka grow up a bit). He may have gotten himself into a bit of a mess and may find few entry-level positions open until the fall entry-level hiring boom begins again. He may also find increased scrutiny and a host of other lil issues making the road difficult for awhile as its going to be apparent to interviewers that he's playing catchup to his peers. The important thing to recognize is that its now on him to do the work, if he truly wants to move up in the world he'll figure it out but as a parent you have more potential to do harm than good. It may be tough to hear but you need to start treating him like the nice neighbor kid - someone you would loan $10 to but not someone you would support financially. Give him your parental support/faith and a strong back for moving into a cheap apartment, but nothing financially.

My standard advice for current students is simply to share our expectations and assure them that most of their peers do indeed meet them. To be considered for an interview, we expect at least 1-2 years (not summers) of relevant experience via internship/co-op/employment. Hands-on field work is great, but many interns get used simply as cheap manual labor so I always caution against staying in such a position as it is simply a waste of their time. We also expect them to take some advanced coursework to show they're willing to put in more than a minimum of effort. Every year I hear a lot of similarly sad stories from grads that interned a single summer, that took an easy courseload for four years, or otherwise expected an $80k+ job handed to them at graduation yet struggle to land interviews. Unfortunately, in many cases they didn't realize until too late that employment really is a competition between them and their peers for every position and a degree by itself doesn't mean dink. Sadly, the standard fallback today for many not landing a top job seems to be grad school which leads to another cycle of school and job failures. Most going this route don't realize that its not a do-over, that the degree alone doesn't mean dink, and that failing to compete on other merits still means they wont land their dream job.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

So if there is no overtime, he is getting a pay cut. As far as advice, start learning how to negotiate seems like a good start.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

its just an offer and a lowball one at that. but, he obviously has his foot in this door, so maybe he should counter-offer $50k?

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

The vacation part of the offer is relatively nice. Most people start around 10 days out of university. That salary is extremely low, especially given the overtime. Out of me and my friends when we graduated (all just BSMEs with co-op experience and comparable GPAs) the lowest offer any of us got was about $55k. The highest was $75k.

I would take cvg's advice about a counter offer and immediately be applying elsewhere as a backup. If $40k is not livable (which is debatable, if he can keep expenses low) then I don't think there is much sense in taking that job.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

vacation is nice, but doesnt pay the bills and two days extra vacation is just 16 hours, at $20/hour is $320 or to put it simply, chicken feed.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Thanks guys nice to hear other peoples ideas. I want him to get a good start when he moves out. His GPA was 3.3 (3.75 for senior year). He is ready to start his Civil Engineering career.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Hey Dad: I'd stand back and let him make his own decisions. I'd also not teach him spelling with your "advise" shown twice above.. IT'S ADVICE! the noun.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

And don't helicopter him on the pay. That seems to be your importance.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Tell him I was making a little more than that in my first job out of university working less hours and it was right after the 2008 recession. I'd not even counter offer, I'd look elsewhere. Hell, you could make almost as much money working at Wal-Mart with those kinds of hours.

Ian Riley, PE, SE
Professional Engineer (ME, NH, VT, CT, MA, FL) Structural Engineer (IL, HI)

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

I was honestly surprised to see the income mentioned but didn't want to dwell on the issue. My wife worked asbestos remediation until two years ago, mostly sampling, monitoring, and the mountain of associated certification paperwork across the Midwest and NE. Without the OT, $40k ~ $20/hr, which wouldn't hire a new tech in most of the areas she worked. Its a somewhat crappy job but pays fairly decently.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Counteroffer or take it and start looking at the same time. I think the counteroffer is the most diplomatic way and I would focus on the proportion of OT versus the actual salary.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Never accept the first offer on anything, whether its a job offer or someone offering to buy your golf clubs at a garage sale. Its an offer, the person making you the offer is expecting you to counter. You'd be surprised how flexible people become when you walk away from their "final" offer. Its a game to see who can hold out the longest.

RE: New Civil Graduate Advise

Quote (MotorCity)

Never accept the first offer on anything
Maybe it would be different in an ideal world, but I remember not feeling like I have any leverage as a fresh college grad to negotiate. There's literally hundreds of people with the same experience (effectively none) trying to get a position. Aside from maybe a moving bonus or sick day or something, I don't see how a typical college grad has any leverage to negotiate.

Now that I have actual experience, it's obviously a different dynamic. But fresh out of college, with a degree that effectively says "I'm trainable", what can you do?

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