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Aero employment looking hopeless

  1. Mar 5, 2013 #1
    So I graduated back in Dec. 2011 with an aerospace bachelors and have been applying ever since here and there. I spoke with an acquaintance in the field who gave me some advice after about 8 months after graduating. He had told me my resume was horrible so I revamped the whole thing with his assistance to a quality he saw fitting.

    I started applying again this January and out of the 20 some odd jobs I have applied to I get one email stating to send a transcript.

    Out of the entirety of all my applications (probably over 50) that was the only positive result!! I am applying for entry level propulsion positions with the updated resume (my buddy told me to specify what you want and to not be vague); I make sure there are NO experience requirements. Before the resume revamp I applied for any entry level aero position whatsoever. I graduated with a 3.20.

    So McDonald's it is? Haha. I dont know how long these things take really but I feel like Im getting kind of stale in what I know so eventually after 2 years and nothing I will be completely out of the market for anyone to want to hire me.

    A look at my resume for some perspective (one thing to note is that I do not have internship experience and most intern positions require you to be currently enrolled in school which I am not):

    OBJECTIVE: Seeking a full-time, entry-level analysis or design engineering position in the field of aerospace propulsion. Willing to relocate.

    SOFTWARE EXPERIENCE (years): MATLAB (2), AutoCAD (1), ProE (1), C++ (1), Simulink (1), Microsoft Office (8+), LabVIEW (1), VuCalc (1).

    B.S. Aerospace Engineering (December 2011)
    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
    GPA: 3.20/4.00, Dean’s List (Spring 2011)

    Relevant Coursework:
    Propulsion Lab, Rocket / Chemical Propulsion, Electric Propulsion, Airbreathing Propulsion, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Compressible and Incompressible Flow, Aerospace Systems Design, Control Systems Design, Flight / Orbital Mechanics, Engineering Materials, Thermodynamics, Probability Theory, Electrical Circuits, Structural Statics and Dynamics, Organic Chemistry.

    Senior Design Project:
    - Propulsion Analyst and Designer for hybrid (aerostat and fixed-wing) heavy lift airship.
    - Design constraints included cruise speed, altitude, takeoff distance, cargo weight, packaging, and technology readiness level.
    - Trade studies performed to maximize fuel efficiency by selecting engine configuration and propeller blade design (rotational rate, pitch, activity factor, diameter, quantity, tip speed).
    - Analyzed thrust, fuel consumption, and total engine-configured efficiency as a function of Mach number.

    Aerodynamics Lab Project:
    - Designed an aerodynamically efficient model of a high speed rail car as part of a four-person team.
    - Subsonic wind tunnel testing performed with a load cell to determine the drag coefficient.
    - Analyzed the vehicle wake velocity profile.

    Other Laboratory Experience:
    - Conducted Schlieren imaging on a nozzle to examine the effects of underexpanded and perfectly expanded flows.
    - Measured the jet thrust of a converging nozzle using a load cell.
    - Performed subsonic wind tunnel testing of pitot - embedded airfoils to determine surface pressure distributions.
    - Manufactured graphite / epoxy composite laminate coupons for use in tensile testing.
    - Designed a proportional-integral-derivative controller (PID) with appropriate controller gains for a compound pendulum with constraints in overshoot, rise time, and steady-state error.
    - Tensile testing used in conjunction with strain gauges to produce experimental stress versus strain diagrams of various metals and alloys.
    - Predicted and measured the deflection of beams subjected to combined loading.
    - Estimated the stress concentrations of complex geometrical structures using photoelasticity.

    Engineer-in-training (EIT) Certification, License No. 061.036266 (October 2011)

    Position: Foreman, ------ Builders (2006-current), Responsible for hosting real estate showings. Coordinated and supported landscaping crew. Part-time while pursuing degree.

    Position: Volunteer, ------t Area Jaycees (2012), Construction and organization of haunted house fundraiser. Participated in Thanksgiving food drive.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2013 #2
    Your resume isn't that bad. The worst part is your GPA. 3.2 just isn't that good in the current job market. 3.2 is respectable for an engineer, but most companies will try to hire entry-level applicants with a higher GPA.

    Who sponsored your senior design project? Does that company have any postings? Which companies does your school have relationships with? Can a professor give you a recommendation?
  4. Mar 5, 2013 #3
    Yeah, I slacked the first two years unfortunately. Averaging my senior/junior year which were the hardest Id have something around a 3.5.

    There was no sponsors; it was a project for a systems design course. Actually turned out pretty bland an uninteresting.

    Professor recommendation -> possibly (i was not close to any of my professors; more of an individual learner) but is that something to put on a resume? or do you mean a job recommendation?

    This is the GOOD resume; you would probably laugh at my old one. haha
  5. Mar 5, 2013 #4


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    There are about 10 good job boards, but I have no idea how they are for aerospace jobs. I've used them for IT jobs.

    Several years ago when I was out of work, I had a stretch where I applied for everything I could find that I was qualified for. It was typical to send out 30 or 40 resume emails a day. There were a couple of days when I did 50 in a day. I don't know how aerospace compares to IT but I have to say, I'm not impressed that you have sent out 50 resumes and are discouraged. After you have sent out 1,000 or so you can start to feel discouraged.
  6. Mar 5, 2013 #5
    1000? Damn.
    I better get on it; one problem is there are not too many entry-level propulsion jobs; I would honestly apply to any I can find. I suppose broadening the search but I dont want to get stuck in a field Im not interested in. NO STRUCTURES !!

    Thanks for the advice.
  7. Mar 5, 2013 #6
    The jobs are out there, but the chances of finding it by throwing your resume at an HR department are somewhere between slim and none.

    What you need to do is to use social networks, such as LinkedIn, to find out who is hiring, and where they are. Then you need to carefully write a resume with all the key words the HR people are looking for. I can tell you from first hand experience of seeing how the hiring is done, many resumes are tossed because they don't have the right key words. It is crude, it is callous, and it is silly. But that's how they do their selection process.

    I wish I was making this up.
  8. Mar 5, 2013 #7
    Keywords: That is why my relevant coursework is a massive list. Big companies use programs to screen the initial batch of applications.

    You know, I have been on linkedIn and some others, monster, careerbuilder. I dont see to many job openings (propulsion) anyway on there.
    Although, maybe I should try the premium (paid for account).
  9. Mar 6, 2013 #8
    I work with many aerospace engineers (I'm an EE) and I have noticed that they tend to take long to find work. It seems like a pretty specialized field. If I were you I would try to get into some embedded systems work since you have some control systems knowledge under your belt. You would probably have to read the job descriptions pretty closely because embedded jobs vary quite a bit.

    For instance, this job:


    If you can sell your coding skills well, I could see you being able to wear two hats, controls and software, at a job like that. Find jobs that straddle two fields because I doubt there are many "propulsion" jobs out there. :wink:
  10. Mar 6, 2013 #9
    Here is a couple of things I've noticed that may be contributing to your bleak situation.

    1) Based on your resume, it seems like you have no extracirricular, independent project or REU experience to compensate for your lack of internship. This is extremely bad. In fact, your resume seems like you are essentially outlining things you did for classes. If it's one section, thats ok, but if every section of your resume is dedicated to only class projects it makes you look like you did the bare minimum to graduate.

    2) Your "Other laboratory" experience seems like a regurgitation of a bunch of labs I did during my undergradaute career. If this is true, then this entire section is useless because everyone you graduated with has that exact same experience

    3)"Senior Design" and "Aerodynamics Lab Project" should be expanded to take up the majority of your resume. Project work is most important behind Education and internship experiance

    4) Why are you listing "Relevant Courses" at the top of your resume? This should be after all your project an work experience. Also, don't list courses that everyone else in your department took. In fact, assuming you didn't do the latter, change the name to "Additional Course Work"

    5) Why are you putting your "Software Experiences" above your education? Again, your education details are more important than your software experience in terms of what is seen first. You went to a really good school for aeronautical engineering, show it!

    6)Everyone is going to yell at me for this: Get rid of the "Objective" section and replace it with something more creative. Why? Because can you really summarize your job "objective" in one sentence. No. It's a waste of space. I fell into the trap of using that stupid section when I was in UG. After I did some resume searching online for ideas, I came across much more effective introductions.

    Some other things:

    Are you writing cover letters? I made the mistake of just submitting my resumes en mass only to get every one of them rejected. Write cover letters, ideally to jobs you think you would like the most.

    Given that your graduated in 2011 and you only applied to 50is jobs, that is bad. Personally, I've applied to at least 30 in a 2 month span. You need to be doing more searching.

    Your GPA is fine, its above a 3. if you are on the deans list you are probably one standard deviation above the mean, of which maybe 5% of those people are going to grad school. Also, if your major GPA is high post it too.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  11. Mar 6, 2013 #10


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    I think people spend a lot of time worrying about the details of resumes that in the end don't really matter.

    Direct contact with people who have the capacity for hiring is what matters, in my opinion.
    - How many different people have you talked to?
    - Have you tried job shadowing in companies you're interested in working at?
    - Have you attended conferences and talked with sales reps or technical specialists or managers?
    - Have you talked to classmates that have recently been hired?
    - Have you talked with any headhunters?
    - What about cold-calling? I know it's hard and awkward, and you're likely to get lots of rejections this way, but sometimes talking to someone who isn't currently hiring will know someone who is, or will give you an idea of when a good time to apply might be, e.g. we do all of our hiring at the beginning of the fiscal year.
  12. Mar 6, 2013 #11
    Good info. I actually think the objective statement and cover letters are useless but necessary (more like persuasive writing rather than credentials). I dont write many cover letters but perhaps I should try to do that more often. One thing to take into account with this resume is it is directed at larger companies who have automated reviews. (Its all about how a search engine picks up keywords and such....why I have the course list).

    I should take some of your suggestions and make another which is geared more toward a human actually looking at it; I apply to both larger and smaller companies so perhaps I should have a resume for both.

    Thanks for the input
  13. Mar 6, 2013 #12
    Some people get in with connections. I have essentially none but it is worth the effort. To be honest, I probably am too lazy at this process and need to start picking up my feet before 2 years out of school passes and I am unhirable.
  14. Mar 6, 2013 #13
    You could go for a master's degree that specifically has an internship component. Im sure you have thought of this. Going back to school isn't always an attractive idea. But there are a variety of masters programs out there. In my state one of the big universities has an online EE/CS master program. Im not sure how much that would add to your skills and resume though. Another big university has a master's program with a paid internship as part of it. People do their paid internships all over the country. And its not very hard to get in. This of course has a high price tag associated with it, but it does focus on getting you connections.
  15. Mar 6, 2013 #14


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    I think the OP's CV illustrates a basic problem with "aerospace engineering" as an academic subject. He/she says
    OK, so my employer designs and manufacturs jet engines for civil and military aircraft, plus "derivative" applications like ship propulsion, combined heat and power generation, etc. So far, so good.

    But if this CV arrived in the general pile of graduate applications, the first thing we would do would be try to guess what particular field you might want to work in, in a company with thousands of graduate level engineers. The comment
    rules out maybe 80% of the options, because once you get past the conceptual level, the basic function of a propulsion system is to apply some forces to something!

    And for the other 20%, there's not much indication about what really floats your boat. Knowing a bit about "everything" isn't going to be of much value on day one, because you won't doing a job that requires knowing a bit about "everything".

    Given more supply than demand, a superficial reaction might be "Doesn't want to do structures. Doesn't say anything about CFD. Next ....."

    Maybe you would be the perfect candiate for a job in reliability engineering, control systems design, combustion chemistry, or half a dozen other specialist areas - but the chances of discovering that are close to zero, starting from what your CV says about you.
  16. Mar 7, 2013 #15
    There is this belief that all you have to do is to go to college, get a degree, and then send your resume to lots of companies you might like to work for, and you'll get employment in exactly the field you were seeking, with on the job training, and all will be right with the world.

    I wish things really worked that way, but they do not. Often we discover that the degree we got has little bearing to the work we actually do. My degree was in Electrical Engineering, and I wanted to design RF systems. Today, I'm a Controls Engineer and I work for a large water and sewer utility, which does use RF networks incidentally.

    You seek a job working on propulsion. Have you considered working on steam or wind turbines? How about turbocharger design? Have you considered working on vacuum pump systems? Perhaps cryogenic storage systems?

    Getting a job building propulsion systems actually starts at a much lower level. You will need that low level experience to learn how to build better stuff. To wit: One does not just walk right in to an architecture firm and learn to build bridges. First, you learn about steel fabrication methods, you learn about traffic estimation methods, you learn about aerodynamic loads, foundations, soils, practical concerns with resonance of structures, and perhaps cable design if you are interested in building a suspension bridge.

    If you think that going to college for four years, six, or eight years will teach you all the nuances that you need to know to build a better propulsion system, you are very mistaken.
  17. Mar 7, 2013 #16
    I think the CV indicates a bachelor position; I dont think employers expect that specific a skill set directly out of college (after all I think most of what you'll learn is on the job...college more teaches how to be efficient at learning). I was not the best in structures but think I can hold my own with the average to poor civil engineering student. It is correct I do not have interest in that at all really but I wouldn't hesitate to diversify; I just don't want that as the only focus.

    Maybe be more specific in the objective statement? (I tried to make that as dry as possible..Also, somewhat general...I could say "jet propulsion" but then the 20 some odd jobs I have applied to since January would be narrowed considerably.

    What I do think: I agree on some problem with aero as a program. It would be nice if college programs allowed more specificity; not that an aero student should have zero knowledge of structures (if they do not enjoy it) but I would definitely have picked classes more specific to my interest.

    I understand this completely. My question is this: I know a new grad is not typically going to go into something interesting but my hesitation lies with what position to take as a new grad. If I eventually want to build up to something affiliated with the design or analysis rocket/jet/aircraft engines, does the experience working at entry-level 'systems engineer' job apply to this. Well, no not directly....it applies to system engineering. I feel like I would be applying to a job to say to my employer: "Hey, I want this systems engineer job your offering..but I only want it for 1.5 years to replace the lack of internship I have". At some point I have to take something but I feel I still have a little time to decide if that's right. Maybe take something like that close to where I live (if possible) to avoid relocation expense but how does that look for your next application (to something I find more interesting)? I dont think that would look good.

    Thanks for the advice guys.
  18. Mar 7, 2013 #17
    You say that now, and yet...

    I said pretty much the same thing to myself when I started working at the water utility 27 years ago. I figured I'd hang around for a few years, get my degree at night, and then go off and build some real high tech spacecraft.

    And then the bottom fell out of the market. The cold war was over, and literally half of my class dried up and blew away as defense contracts ended suddenly. Many students were on scholarships that only paid while they were employed. It was an eye opener for me. Many of them were doing some of the really cool high tech stuff I wanted to get involved in.

    Right around the same time, my brother, with his Masters in Mechanical Engineering, was laid off from the aerospace firm he worked for. Thankfully, he saved enough money and went to law school. He's a patent law and IP attorney for a well known firm.

    I finished my degree, took stock in my situation, and realized that I actually did have some pretty damned cool toys to play with, and some interesting people to work with. No, the sex appeal of this work doesn't sound so good when standing around at a cocktail party. You don't get the cache of saying that you actually are a rocket scientist. But so what?

    If something fascinates you can always explore it as an amateur. In addition to my career as a Control Systems Engineer, I am a private pilot, a ham radio enthusiast, a beer brewer, and all around tinkerer. I have decided to take up bee keeping recently. My point is that you shouldn't be so focused. Spread your wings, and try something.
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