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MSEE: graduate w/o internship?

by lambgyro
Tags: graduate, internship, msee, w or o
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lambgyro
#1
Jan22-13, 06:31 PM
P: 7
Hello,

I am a second year master's student at a so-so engineering program, and am trying to determine what the downside to finishing my degree sooner rather than later might be (if any).

My undergraduate major was physics with a math minor (beyond the substantial math I learned, I have yet to see any real value in all that work I did). I am taking courses this spring and am in a position to graduate either over the summer, having taken a summer course or two, or in the fall.

My concentration area is embedded systems, and I have A LOT to learn on this topic; I'm even auditing a 300 level course on microprocessors this semester because I know I lack the nuts and bolts knowledge of this area of EE. Now, my dilemma is whether it would be better for me to try to graduate asap (this summer), or graduate in the fall, having perhaps used the summer for an internship or or thesis project. Also, my gpa sucks (2.5).
I know it, no need to hammer the point home. By the time I graduate it will at least be above 3.0. My focus at this point is on doing well in my courses, and doing whatever I need to to demonstrate my ability and commitment during the coming months.

I'm wondering how essential an internship is in my field to eventual employment. Based on conversations with a couple friends, once you graduate and are no longer a student, it's much harder to find a job, and internships are restricted to full-time students. The opportunity cost of taking longer in my case is another semester working part-time, or maybe not at all, while I complete the degree. Basically it's the foregone income of 6-8 months more in school- assuming of course, I were employed during that time. I'm leaning toward taking one year so I can make the most of my remaining time and complete an m.s. thesis and/or internship. I think my impatience stems from the fact that I'm already 26, spent several years working dead-end jobs before determining to take this path, and am now chomping at the bit to finish.

Any advice from experienced professionals, or anyone who understands the kinds of options I'm trying to weigh, would be much appreciated. Thanks a lot.
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ModusPwnd
#2
Jan23-13, 04:02 PM
P: 1,058
I'd do whatever I could to get an internship. If a job/career is your goal then I think that getting an internship is extremely important. Classroom learning can be made up by you on your own time, an internship cannot.
DrummingAtom
#3
Jan26-13, 01:16 PM
P: 661
Quote Quote by lambgyro View Post
My concentration area is embedded systems, and I have A LOT to learn on this topic; I'm even auditing a 300 level course on microprocessors this semester because I know I lack the nuts and bolts knowledge of this area of EE.
At my school, it seems like every EE student is interested in embedded systems and for me that's kind of a turn off. I talked to many employers at a recent career fair and when I said my experience is in embedded systems I got reactions like "you're the 20th EE student to tell me that today" or "you and every other EE student..." The good thing is there seems to be a lot of jobs but when you say you have "A LOT" to learn it worries me. Even though I would consider myself a strong candidate for entry-level embedded systems work, it's intimidating to know that I'll be competing with students that are hacking seemingly everything and have been doing this since they were 12 especially with things like Arduino's, programmable robots, etc. and then continue to do so in their free time throughout school. Although, another good thing about embedded systems is that within a couple months someone can learn a lot from a couple of projects. The issue is the amount of knowledge in that field and I think that's what you're discovering now.

I would highly recommend going to a career fair just to see what's out there. Embedded systems is a great field for a general overview of EE and the software/hardware interaction and of course every EE should know something about this area because of its ubiquity.

I hope I don't come off discouraging because that's not my intention, I just want you to know what I experienced recently and to inform you what you're up against. If you're set on that type of work then more power to you but I now know that I am not. Good luck.

lambgyro
#4
Jan27-13, 02:28 AM
P: 7
MSEE: graduate w/o internship?

Thanks much for the feedback.

>>>The good thing is there seems to be a lot of jobs but when you say you have "A LOT" to learn it worries me.

When I say "A LOT", I'm not daunted by the amount of learning that lies ahead of me, but I know there are many students who know far more than I do. I left graduate school for overy a year and then came back because I was sick of the theoretical work (I was a PhD track), and was making excuses for my shortcomings. One of those shortcomings was I didn't know how to program JACK SQUAT, so I did most of the programming problems in a C++ textbook during my "sabbatical". I also completed a couple basic arduino projects (after installing a firmware patch for a problem that led to programs with serial data freezing- that was fun :/) It's not much, but I know if I can teach myself that, I can learn assembly language, C, and whatever else lies ahead of me.

>>>Even though I would consider myself a strong candidate for entry-level embedded systems work, it's intimidating to know that I'll be competing with students that are hacking seemingly everything and have been doing this since they were 12 especially with things like Arduino's, programmable robots, etc.

If you're around students who have been hardware hacking since grade school, you're probably at a more selective institution than mine, where I don't detect as much native interest in embedded systems- or anything else for that matter- within EE. That's awesome for you because peer group can be very powerful in keeping one motivated. I certainly have the same concerns about my competition, but I can only control the present.

I'm just at a point where I feel like I want to learn something. Really. ****ing. well. Much as I envy those guys for whom this or that topic is an all-consuming passion, I am not so intellectually monogamous, but society seem to say "get married" or work in retail- if you'll permit me to extend the metaphor. My best decision with respect to grad school was not continuing in physics. I am worried however, about not having time for my paramours. But I'm someone who cannot stand the idea of not being intellectually challenged at my job. So... I dunno.

>>>I would highly recommend going to a career fair just to see what's out there.

Will definitely be doing this in the coming weeks and months. Thank you again for your thoughts on this topic.


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