Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

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Cradarc
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Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Cradarc » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:23 am UTC

I'm going to be graduating college this coming Winter and I still haven't gotten any "real world experience". Everyone is saying I should, and I kind of know I should, but it's just so difficult to get motivated. I am studying electrical engineering.
I love learning, I love studying new things and figuring out how they work. I even love spending hours (sometimes skipping meals) debugging circuit/code if it's for an interesting project. What I don't like is networking, writing resumes/cover letters, social norms that serve no practical purpose, and people who don't straight out tell me what they think.
Internships and entry level positions all seem boring as heck. Usually the descriptions are something vague like "test software", or "debug hardware", or "technical support for (some product)". When I talk to people at career fairs, they just smile, look at my resume, and tell me to apply online. On rare occasions I actually get to talk to engineers instead of HR people, and even then they are very vague because of intellectual property issues.

Rant about things I wish I could say:
"How the heck is my resume telling you anything? For all you know I could have BSed all that."
"Look, take me for two days with no expenses other than your time, if you don't like what you get, kick me out and never consider me again."
"Yeah, I have Matlab and C++ experience, but I look up a lot of stuff online so I don't know if you count that as being 'experienced'."
"No you are not my favorite company in the world. I need an internship, and your position looks interesting."
"Do you really think your company is that awesome because it sounds like you're reciting script."
"Hey I need something to do this summer. Let me tell you what I can do, then tell me if that's good enough for you. What do you mean you don't know yet? Can I do the job or not?"
"If you want to know my problem solving ability, why are you quizzing me about knowledge that can be looked up in 10 seconds?"


Anyways, does anyone else struggle or have struggled with this? Any tips or comments?
I know it's something that must be done, even if I don't like it, but I keep procrastinating because every effort made so far felt like I violated some personal moral code.
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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:52 am UTC

What you're experiencing is pretty common. You'll get past it, provided you summon the gumption to do some things you don't want to do.

I know it sounds unsympathetic, but welcome to the "real" world.

There's no such thing as a perfect job where your bosses love you for how great you were at college stuff. You probably weren't that great at it, and honestly? If you were, then bad news: Almost nobody gets paid to do college stuff.

So the consequence of not having an internship or "real world experience" or whatever you want to call it before graduating may be that you have to take an internship position after graduating. It might be full time or it might not. It will probably be term employment - some number of months, after (and during) which you have to apply for permanent positions.

I had a paid internship starting at the end of my Junior year which I left during my Senior year to work for another agency that paid a little more, not technically and internship but set up to be similar. I was in that second position for 18 months before I managed to get on as a permanent, full-time employee making a professional wage. That was almost a year after I graduated. And this was with what you could consider to be two internship positions.

Everyone's situation is different. I maybe could have done without the first internship, and still ended up in the same spot. I maybe could have skipped both of them and still been hired - somewhere else. There are a lot of opportunities but it's a constant, miserable competition between the applicant pool to get one, until you finally get one. You have to do the footwork to get there. You have to send out the applications and the cover letters. Honestly though, you can get farther than you think by being direct about what you want and what you have to offer.

What you need to do is try to keep your unrelated angst about the job search out of your cover letter. You don't have to blow smoke up their ass. If you can't think of anything about the job or the employer that interests you, odds are pretty good you won't be able to compete against other applicants who can in the interview phase. Sure, all the resume advice people tell you to tailor everything to every job and talk about why the employer saved your life when you were 12 and had leukemia. The truth is, you save that shit for when you're really excited about a position, and then you have some true shit to say.

Your job might end up being boring. At work, try to satisfy yourself by exceeding your own expectations while at least meeting your employer's. Trust me, if you don't meet your own you won't be satisfied and if you don't meet theirs you may not be employed. Outside of work, get a hobby and a social life. That's the way it works. You've got a lot of education system kool aid to get out of your system, but that's also the way it works.

Best of luck, honestly. Let us know how it's going. Specific problems, we can be more helpful.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:11 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:Rant about things I wish I could say:
"How the heck is my resume telling you anything? For all you know I could have BSed all that."


Oh, yeah. HR frigging loves resumes. And in fairness, they are informative. You'd be amazed at how many of them are straight rubbish, and can aid you in screening out obvious failures without needing to do awkward interviews. A good resume at least tells you that they know how to get a small bit of professional writing done, know what the job needs, and have some motivation. That's not a guarantee, but it's a start.

"Look, take me for two days with no expenses other than your time, if you don't like what you get, kick me out and never consider me again."


Sadly, a lot of places have laws preventing this. Unpaid internships are getting more restricted, and there are employment laws and things. The sentiment is sound, but it may not be a reasonable option.

"Yeah, I have Matlab and C++ experience, but I look up a lot of stuff online so I don't know if you count that as being 'experienced'."


Get used to the words "I'm decently familiar with it, and I can look up what I don't know offhand" or something similar. Everyone technical nowadays googles stuff. You want to potray a fairly educated, motivated persona. Don't stress about knowing everything. Nobody actually does. Bonus points if you can work your proficiency into a real world example of use quickly.

"No you are not my favorite company in the world. I need an internship, and your position looks interesting."
"Do you really think your company is that awesome because it sounds like you're reciting script."


There are different types of interviews. There are HR drone interviews, and technical interviews. You want to figure out which is which asap. HR people are really bad at assessing technical skills, and are looking for comforting buzzwords, strong handshakes, and a confident persona. Bullshit, in other words. Techies tend to be really focused on the task at hand, and the applicability of you to that. Respond accordingly. If they're asking you stuff like this, it's probably an HR interview.

"Hey I need something to do this summer. Let me tell you what I can do, then tell me if that's good enough for you. What do you mean you don't know yet? Can I do the job or not?"
"If you want to know my problem solving ability, why are you quizzing me about knowledge that can be looked up in 10 seconds?"


Because, scarily, a lot of people don't know that. Take a moment and explain your answer or the theory behind the answer. This will assure technical sorts that you didn't just memorize some random crap, and it makes you sound extra-savvy to HR types. If it's fizzbuzz and you did it with +/-, you might want to offhandedly mention the xor bit. If you're blowing through technical stuff, use the extra time to sell your competence.

Anyways, does anyone else struggle or have struggled with this? Any tips or comments?
I know it's something that must be done, even if I don't like it, but I keep procrastinating because every effort made so far felt like I violated some personal moral code.


*shrug* It's a strange game. In academia, you tend to hang out with people that know/care about the subject they're asking you about. In the real world...that will often not be the case. No need to lie, but you have to realize that they're checking off a list of things they care about, and if you don't communicate the info they're after, it helps neither of you.

Cradarc
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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Cradarc » Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:32 pm UTC

Thanks for the support. I ended up applying to 4 companies and not hearing back from any :(
I might just end up working at a research lab over the summer. One of my professors really think I should go to grad school, but being an academic, he's probably biased. The curious, intellectual part of me wants to go to grad school, but the practical side wants to get a real job where I can actually do something tangible for society. I've taken some classes with grad students who seem equally lost as me with regards to their careers. I don't want to spend extra time (and potentially money) just to end up in the same position.
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Dopefish
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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Dopefish » Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:19 am UTC

Hoop jumping for potential career jobs is a nuisance, but the people who are willing to jump through the most hoops to get a job are probably willing to jump through comparable hoops to do the job well and adapt to whatever new responsibilities/situations might show up, so I can sortof see it from their perspective.

Getting a random non-'career' type job as a waiter or whatever can be a good way to get the ball rolling though, as those types of positions will pretty much hire anyone with next to no hoop jumping (occasionally there's not even an interview and they'll just hire you for part time at first and see how it goes). It can feel degrading and perhaps be uninteresting to not make use of your education, but it can get you references and get you used to dealing with people in a professional manner, which can make transitioning towards a career flavoured job easier. (If you're lucky, you can find a place you genuinely do like the food at too which can make for a nice silver lining if you get discounted/free food as a perk.)

I'm lead to believe that the key to landing those real career jobs is to just keep applying to various places though (and especially networking where it's possible to find those job opportunities that aren't obviously advertised [and as an added bonus, probably don't have quite as much competition]), and doing your best to jump through the various hoops presented to you as a follow up to those applications. You may not even hear back from the majority of them, but a handful of them might get you in for interviews which gets you more practice at handling those. Repeat until one of the interviews actually does lead to a job offer, and then you're 'in' and can get relevant experience which makes future jobs in that area easier if you don't stay with the company that finally hired you.

depot
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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby depot » Sun May 31, 2015 11:10 pm UTC

I'm young too, but I've been working, mostly, since I graduated with a BSEE in 2012. Sounds like you're not starving, that's good, but I'm sure we were expecting more.

You probably don't want to meet HR or staffing people so much when networking. I haven't run into a situation yet where I could get hired from a management style of person. Maybe I'm doing it wrong? However, most of the engineers I meet are overworked. They typically don't have the authority to hire people directly, but they can put in a nice word especially when things get desperate. It's best to meet them before they're working overtime so that you aren't a nuisance, but meh.

Most of my employment has come from an older engineer who was looking for that kind of help. Another great moment is when it's established that you, the younger one, can do things that they'd need more time to figure out. Not that it would keep away the busywork. Perhaps I'm missing some opportunities at these small companies, but eh, I think I'm doing nicely actually.

Maybe looking for people who make things in their free time would pay off later. Make your own things and discuss how to make things and what would be neat to make. Plus it helps to return to the stuff that made you want to be an engineer. So far, I've meet lots of retired or working-at-home or laid-off types, so I'm a little doubtful, but at least it's fun. They know how to do stuff and how to talk the profession.

Most people have a reputation for working in their garage these days. To stand out, you'd need a successful Kickstarter or something. And the few business people I've met were underestimating engineering work, I thought. We have 3d printing and other rapid prototyping stuff, which is great, but they sometimes appear to think, "engineering is easy now, so have some teenager in China do it." Well, I dunno, maybe expatriation would be nice.

I've been thinking for a long time now about trying to make something as my own business. There was some earlier time when engineers starting business exploded, just because they knew more about the tech stuff so they could out-think the typical business people. They say the best opportunities are the ones you make for yourself, but the downside is that you tend to work yourself harder than you should. I tend to get distracted by the daily working though, maybe it isn't for me. And it doesn't help that I can't understand or sympathize with marketing. Oh well.

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Re: Motivation for internships/job search hoopjumping

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:42 pm UTC

depot wrote:I've been thinking for a long time now about trying to make something as my own business. There was some earlier time when engineers starting business exploded, just because they knew more about the tech stuff so they could out-think the typical business people. They say the best opportunities are the ones you make for yourself, but the downside is that you tend to work yourself harder than you should. I tend to get distracted by the daily working though, maybe it isn't for me. And it doesn't help that I can't understand or sympathize with marketing. Oh well.


Almost nobody is good at everything that makes up business skills. Mostly, you figure out a way to measure performance, and offload the tasks you suck at to someone who enjoys them.

Everything involves SOME degree of sales, even if it involves only selling yourself to get the job initially...but the degree varies wildly. Pure sales jobs are direct to consumer things. But you don't have to pursue that model. You can work on building something badass and selling it to someone who wants to handle the consumer end for you. Or some other similar model. There's a lot of flexibility out there for small business, and a lot of folks competing for a dollar to help you out. Don't let this entirely discourage you from pursuing small business...

But be aware there will be some sales somewhere, regardless of what you do.


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