A Recent Electrical Engineering Grad’s Best Career Advice

By Kassidee Shoemaker, Electrical Engineer, GRME, Inc. | UofU Alumna ’18 Electrical and Electronics Engineering

There are few things more valuable to engineering students than: FOOD, SLEEP and (probably) the MOST IMPORTANT – TIME. The decision of which priority to fill your time is a critical one – especially as graduation quickly approaches. There are homework assignments and labs to finish, studying for finals, and trying to get enough sleep to keep your brain from becoming mush. Throw job searching into the mix and it becomes difficult to align priorities.

My last semester studying electrical engineering at the U, I was taking 21 credits and felt I had no time for anything except surviving my classes so I could graduate. I had heard that Hill Air Force Base was coming to do an information session about the opportunities for engineers and was hardly interested. But it was a decent time to eat a salad from the café and give my brain a “break” for a minute and I decided to join in. The information they shared about the opportunities at Hill surprisingly intrigued me and I decided it might be worth interviewing for a position and seeing if it would be a good fit. Long story short, I set up an interview with a group I was VERY interested in, and another group that I was using as a ‘practice interview’ (seems terrible, I know…Just wait). Well, during the ‘practice interview’ I found my personality was a really great fit with the team and the project.

I later accepted a position with them and worked with that group for 1.5 years, then was ‘poached’ by another company that exceeded my salary expectations. Overall, I’ve reached my long-term career goals much faster than I had hoped I would. It’s all because I took the time to interview during the senior-year-chaos and took a chance on a group that I was using as a practice interview.

Below is my best advice to help you jump-start your own career:

  • Follow your gut when it comes time to pick a career path and job opportunity.
  • Practice interviews are okay! They will give you a better idea of what you really want out of an employer and career.
  • As a future engineer, know your worth, but do everything you can to make yourself valuable as an employee and engineer.
  • BE PERSONABLE!!!! Engineers SUCK at this sometimes, a lot of times. Make eye contact, be kind, personable and confident. Not arrogant, confident. Don’t fidget, just relax.
  • Don’t go out of your way to try to make yourself look smart. It just makes you look weird and awkward instead. Your intelligence will shine through – don’t force it.
  • If you are a Sophomore, get an internship ASAP. Get one in industry if you can. This is just as valuable of an experience as your schooling is. No joke. It’s crazy important. It shows you can work a job as a competent employee and this is valuable information to employers.
  • It’s worth your valuable time to attend a career fair, like the 2-Day Virtual STEM Career & Internship Fair on 9/21 and 9/22! Check out the internship and career opportunities to get an idea of what’s out there and where your interests lie.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – Don’t give up. Engineering is tough and everyone else is struggling too. They just might be able to fake it better.