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Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring
4

Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

(OP)
Hello,

I wonder if folks familiar with hiring might help a poor father with a question for folks who know hiring and the job market in America? Thank you, and please move this post if in the wrong place. Our son was just accepted at Virginia Tech and Penn. St., and he also made the waiting list at Wisconsin Madison and Purdue, all for electrical engineering as a freshman this year. We are happy.

We will probably accept Virginia Tech, because we really like what we are seeing for how they welcome and assist freshmen. (I will mention that, although a U.S. citizen, our son was raised in Japan and is bilingual Japanese really.)

MY QUESTION: Putting aside that his is Japanese, and just as a general question, in the small chance that he is picked from the waiting list to be accepted at either Purdue or Wisconsin, would seeing the "Purdue" or "Wisconsin" name on a resume, years from now, rather than "Virginia Tech" really make such a big difference that we should think to abandon Virginia Tech and send him there?? (I know that they are all good schools, but that Purdue is now considered a "Top 10" electrical engineering program everywhere I check.) Or, is it really such a small difference or factor, that we should not worry about it, and just stay with Virginia Tech which we are liking very much?

Thank you for any guidance for folks with hiring and company experience. Until I started to help my son apply to college, my only knowledge of electrical engineering was how to change a light bulb. :)

Dad

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

I think that you'll find that the college only really matters the first few jobs; after that, it's your son's innate abilities and job performance that will make the biggest difference. I also wouldn't sweat the major that much either; I graduated EE and spend the bulk of my career (34 yrs out of 42) not being an EE. Whatever he chooses should be something he'll get out of bed for every morning, and is amazed that someone is actually paying him to do so.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

I'd agree with IRStuff. I'll add a couple of points:

1 - the name on the diploma matters a little more if the ultimate plan is undergrad -> grad school -> workforce. It is slightly easier to get into a top-tier graduate school if you went to a top tier undergraduate school. If the plan is undergrad -> workforce for a few years -> grad school, or grad school is not a primary objective (it's not a must-have in my opinion) then the name of the school on the diploma matters less. With regard to future planning for grad school - grad school is great, and I'm not knocking it; but in the real world, unless you want to teach, job skills, soft skills, and on-the-job performance matter WAY more than degrees do. If your son turns out to be a killer engineer, his future prospects will not be limited by not having a masters degree in most industries.

2 - Sounds like your son is fluent in Japanese AND Japanese culture (big difference between fluent in the language and fluent in the language AND cultural norms of Japan, as I'm sure you well know). There are certain industries, and certain employers, who will find this skillset will be EXTREMELY valuable. I have worked for employers, and made similar decisions as a hiring manager, where I hired someone who went to a "decent" school - i.e. they went to a solid state school and not MIT - over someone from a top-3 university in their field, specifically because they had significant language fluency and cultural experience for a target market we operated in. When hiring time comes, make that experience and skill, both linguistically and culturally, very clear on resumes, applications, and cover letters.

One last thing - all the schools you have listed (Penn St, VTech, Purdue, Wisconsin) are excellent schools and have name recognition across the country; but in the US there is some degree of regional bias. If your son wants to end up living on the east coast somewhere, Penn St. and Virginia Tech are going to have a little bit more impact out east, whereas Purdue and Wisconsin are going to mean more in the midwest.

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

Quote (SwinnyGG)

One last thing - all the schools you have listed (Penn St, VTech, Purdue, Wisconsin) are excellent schools and have name recognition across the country; but in the US there is some degree of regional bias. If your son wants to end up living on the east coast somewhere, Penn St. and Virginia Tech are going to have a little bit more impact out east, whereas Purdue and Wisconsin are going to mean more in the midwest.

Agree with Swinny here all four of those schools are well regarded. When the time comes for internships and full time position just encourage your son to really leverage the career fairs and alumni networks that these schools have to offer. I'd say even attend the career fairs as a freshman it will give him the opportunity to talk to some of the people working in his chosen field and get a sense for the types of companies hiring for his major.

My Personal Open Source Structural Applications:
https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

Open Source Structural GitHub Group:
https://github.com/open-struct-engineer

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

Whether or not you, or someone, is giving your son the full ride, internships should be assumed to be part of the curriculum; often, the rising senior summer internship leads directly to job offers, and not having any, or sufficient, internship experience is a big detriment when compared to other candidates who do have the added experience.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

"What school you go to" probably means a lot in Japan, or India, or China, etc. It doesn't mean that much here, unless you are dealing with a small company that "likes" certain schools (For instance I once worked at a firm where the owner was an alumnus of a certain institution, and about half the staff also graduated there), but that's rare.

And for UNDERGRADUATE work, the curricula differs so little from school to school, that this is just not nearly as big a deal as someone might think. In fact, it makes far more sense, in pursuing the B.S., to look at total cost. Graduating with a BSEE from Purdue, or Podunk Tech, just won't make that much difference.

Graduate school is another matter, but again, the resume issue isn't as important as what concentrations are available; make sure that where you go has the sorts of research directions you're interested in pursuing.

Again, I think in Asia "where you went to school" is probably a bigger deal. Here, it's just not.

"No one is completely useless. He can always serve as a bad example." --My Dad ca. 1975

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

While, companies are ostensibly college "agnostic", there's still a certain cachet to be gained from having gone to Caltech, MIT, Stanford, or UC Berkeley, even 40 yrs later. Some of the professors at those schools literally "wrote the book" or were writing them while giving those classes; that's a plus and minus, since it's sometimes good to get a different instructor's perspective on the written material.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

I've posted similar stories in other forums here, but my experience has been companies tended to not be all excited by my undergrad days at University of Florida, but they really want to talk about my time at Purdue. I think they were both great schools for what they offered (UF was more practical, Purdue is geared more towards researchers and theory), but having that top-ten school (Purdue) was always a feather in my cap come job-hunting time. That feather was a big deal my first 10 years or so, then it started to peter off over the next 5 years... now it makes no appreciable difference as far as I can tell (companies look more heavily at my experience rather than where my education came from).

So, IMHO, the school matters (more than it should, in some cases) for at least the first portion of your career... and that's where the real jumps in salary come from. Something to consider...

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

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

(OP)
I just want to thank everyone for the comments, which were really helpful to clarify things. I'm also going to pass on some of the wise advise to my son. Thanks.

RE: Question from an Undergrad's Dad: For folks familiar with engineer hiring

Teach him to fly - he could have been asking these questions.

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