rsrctnfrn wrote:So i'm a chemical engineering senior, just wondering if anyone else is having this experience:
it seems to me that engineering job prospects should be proportional in some way to engineering competence, but from experience it seems more directly correlated to a student being able to say the right sorts of things to recruiters about themselves or something.. Some of the same students the recruiters seem to be fawning over are the ones who have no clue what they're doing in the lab or coursework! I've not done an internship (foolishly deciding that research is equivalent experience), and as a consequence it seems like none of the recruiters are interested in me.. I don't understand why the internship experience is so all-important, it doesn't seem to have helped these students learn to think like engineers.
full disclosure: i don't really want to do chemE anymore, i want to do materials research. but career fair at my school is next week, and career fair always bothers me because of this..
If there is one thing that I could drill into the heads of every single engineering major out there, it would be "internships are NOT optional"
Because you haven't had an internship, you actually don't realize the importance of it. You have never worked in a corporate environment. That alone, is a huge shift. You may be competent in course work, but many people are and being competent in course work doesn't mean you'll be competent with a real job. I know several people that have struggled with classes, but are amazing at the type of work given to them at their co-ops and internships. Those people are more valuable to companies than those with unproved work experience and a good GPA.
And welcome to the real world, where what you know, it not as important as how you demonstrate yourself. I know, it sucks - majorly. But that's just how it is.
However, you can try to help yourself out by demonstrating yourself slightly differently. First off, when you walk up to a company representative, make it feel like they would be lucky to get you. Don't be arrogant, just confident. You've said you've done research - play that up. Make sure you talk about the responsibilities you had and how you can take initiative. Research may not be quite equivalent experience, but it's certainly important, and you can certainly show how the skills you obtained while doing research will relate to work in the corporate world. Note that these skills are not technical skills unless you're applying for something that specifically needs that particular skill. Often when people hire for an entry level position, they aren't looking for specific skills, just the demonstration that you have the background (your degree), the ability to learn anything that needs to be learned, and the relevant 'soft skills' that will make you a good employee. Soft skills (people skills, organization, etc.) are the single most important thing to show when applying for jobs.
I know you're just feeling disillusioned, but it's ok. Go in there with your guns blazing showing how awesome all the skills you have are, and you'll be fine - even without internships.