New college graduates are competing with professionals already in the work force as well as new graduates all over the nation. Employers favor candidates with experience over those who simply have a degree only. How do you get experience? Here are a few suggestions to help Huskies Get Hired!
- Become an engaged member of the College of Engineering & Engineering Technology: Enter competitions, join professional organizations for students, as well as participate in NIU's annual STEMFest event (held in October). Leadership roles especially are attractive to future employers. Why wait? Get involved beginning your freshman year and stay involved all four years.
- Intern several times throughout your college career: Internships are a central hiring strategy for employers. Through a rich internship background, you will be attractive to employers because you will have already applied classroom learning to outside NIU real life work situations.
- Build your professional Include professional organizations, scholarships, competitions, and internships. Use strong verbs to describe how your skills would benefit an employer and the needs of the company or firm. Use Bob Norwood, Jelmir Atkins, or Career Services for advice on great resume writing.
Research engineering jobs by reviewing open position job descriptions: Identify what employers are seeking in candidates, then get those experiences through classes,
co-curricular experiences, professional clubs, and internships. Don't wait until your senior year to find out what employers look for; use your college years to get the experiences that engineering recruiters want. Develop attractive skills and experiences now versus trying to make what you did just sound good.
- Attend any and all job fairs: CEET and Career Services run many job fairs throughout the year, and the companies who attend aren't just looking for new grads. Companies fill internships, co-ops, and part time positions by attending these fairs; and they aren't just looking for upper classmen. Some companies even want Freshmen and sophomore students.
Job Fair Steps for Success
Learn Who's Coming Ahead of Time:
- The Career Services Job Fair page and CEET's job fair page includes a link to a list of the employers who attend the job fair. Check the list often; changes are made daily right up to the day of the fair.
- Search the career services database by specific majors, job titles, employers, or employment location.
- Prepare a list of employers who offer the employment opportunities which most closely match your interests and abilities. Consider the employer's products and/or services, location, job responsibilities, and corporate culture.
Contact Employers of Interest Prior to the Job Fair
- Send a cover letter and résumé (via e-mail or ground mail) to companies you plan to visit at the Job Fair.
- Explain your interest in the job they have to offer. Point out your educational and career background, qualifications, and experiences that best relate to a specific employer's job requirements.
- Mention that you sent your resume in ahead of time. It will help them see that you are a serious candidate.
- Talk to a career counselor if you need advice on how to write a job search letter and résumé. Call (815) 753-1641 to make an appointment or drop in on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m.
Prepare a 45-Second Verbal Summary of Your Qualifications
- Describe in about 45 seconds your education, work experience, and career interests. Be as specific as possible: "I was program chairman for XYZ club," is better than "I have strong leadership skills." "I wrote a computer program that is currently being used by the company where I did my internship" says more than "I have taken several database management classes." "I worked about 15 hours per week while I carried a full load of classes" is more descriptive than "I have good time management skills."
- Practice the summary so you feel comfortable and confident in your presentation, but avoid sounding as though you've memorized a script. Don't read from notes.
- Match your summary to the specific job description.
- Don't ask about salary and benefits unless the employer prompts the conversation. If so, offer realistic salary expectations (see www.niu.edu/careerservices/weblinks/ or other salary survey sources).
Dress and Act the Part
- Make a good first impression: A conservative, well pressed, tailored business attire is your best choice.
- Maintain a two or three step distance behind the person who currently has the employer's attention, if you are waiting in line.
- Approach employers with confidence - always remember that they are hoping that you will be the star candidate they have been waiting for.
- Travel alone. Employers want to speak with you, not your friends.
- Remember to smile. Offer a firm handshake. Chewing gum is inappropriate; so is eating or drinking anything.
Take the Right Things With You
- Bring more resumes than you think you'll need.
- Carry a few copeis of your transcripts (available in Registration and Records, Williston 2nd floor) and a list of references.
- Take your calendar or date book in order to schedule interviews.
Develop a Plan of Action for the Day of the Fair
- Visit your "A List" first.
- Take notes, like who you spoke with, and use them when you write thank you notes.
Learn What's Going to Happen Next
- Ask about the next step in the interview process and how you can advance your candidacy.
- Request a business card from all recruiters with whom you speak. Shake their hands and thank them for their time.
Follow Up With Your Job Leads
- Write a thank you message (paper or e-mail) to each recruiter you talked to who had jobs in which you were interested. Do not use social thank-you note stationery if you mail a follow-up message. Use standard business correspondence paper.
- Include a copy of your résumé and any documentation requested at the Job Fair.
Remember these tips
- Plan to arrive as close to 10:00 a.m. as possible - some recruiters may leave before 3:00 p.m.
- The Huskie Bus runs out to the Convocation Center up to 12 times a day. Though parking is free for the job fair, the bus will drop you at the door. Very convenient.
Online Job Hunting Resources
- Workforce Development and Resources Section, Fermilab, U.S. Dept. of Energy
- Rockford Area Career Clearinghouse
- Online version of "Graduating Engineer and Computer Careers" magazine
- Right of Way
- The Ensign Bickford Employment Page
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Employment Services
- Silicon Valley Employment Opportunities
- IBM Employment
- Employment Opportunities at Microsoft
- Engineering Jobs
- Edmond Personnel Inc.
- Engineers' Forum
- Society of Women Engineers Career Services
- NSBE Job Resource Center
Meet Bob Norwood!
Bob is the resident career services specialist for our college. His office is on the first floor and he helps with resumes and career services advice. Stop by and say hi!