Best Advice from Alumni at Engineering Networking Night

This year’s 18th annual Engineering Student-Alumni Networking Night was a great event.  We had almost 50 alumni join 160 students for a buzz-worthy evening which was, from all accounts worthwhile for all.

This event is a nice collaboration between the School of Engineering, Alumni Relations, and the Career Center.  Special Thanks to Amanda Tremont and to the Engineering Week Committee, especially Professor Swan and Beatrix Roeller.

Dean Lee gave the opening remarks to a standing room only crowd.  The food was the best we have ever had (sponsored by Alumni Relations) and the event ran very smoothly. Alumni spoke individually and in groups to students, alumni chatted with each other and students were able to get good advice and practice their networking.  We even had to go around to tell people that the event was over because so many people were still engaged in deep conversations.

As part of the event, we asked the alumni to share with us their best career advice.  Here are the excellent answers we received, somewhat grouped into categories.

Networking In General

  • Use the HERD
  • Use LinkedIn! Especially to search employees by school
  • At events:
    • Come prepared with Questions don’t wait for alums to ask you questions
    • Ask follow-up questions – come prepared with them                                                                                                                                              (Note: obviously, the idea here is to prepare even for a networking event!)

In the Job Search – Do Not Worry About Perfection

  • Don’t limit yourself during the job search to positions that are an exact match to your technical skills.
  • A great tip for the indecisive grad – go into consulting! You can work on a wide variety of products and find your calling
  • Don’t feel pressure to find your dream job right away. Gain experience and grow your network first.  You have plenty of time.
  • Don’t be afraid if your first job isn’t your dream job – it’s a journey

Never Stop Learning

  • Once you start working at your new job, ask questions and pick the brains of the more experienced engineers. They have a lot of wisdom and insight, and usually, they are happy to share it with young engineers.  It is a great way to learn.
  • Always look for an opportunity to learn
  • Never stop learning. You learn as much or more at work as you did in school.  Always ask your coworkers and managers for help and advice.
  • Listen – to smart people around you.

Specific Advice

  • Do Internships (I wish I had done some)
  • Work on your writing skills!
  • Always Negotiate! Or, at least attempt, because the worst someone can say is no. ~especially all you women!
  • Actually follow -up I will change everything.  Send that email, and Schedule that coffee chat.
  • No one forgets a handwritten thank you note.

Be Open…

  • Take the risk. Do it today. Don’t wait for tomorrow
  • Don’t give up. You will face challenges but stay determined and you will overcome.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – there are people available to support you.
  • Be open to trying new opportunities.
  • Make sure you love what you are doing and if you don’t, don’t be afraid to change.
  • Have Fun!!
By Robin Kahan
Robin Kahan Associate Director, Engineering Career Services