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Getting an entry level position

  1. Feb 22, 2016 #1

    Maylis

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    Hello,

    I recently graduated with my BS in Chemical Engineering, and for the past couple months I have been trying to get my first entry level position and haven't found anything. I've applied online (so far I'm sitting at about 60 applications) and I keep an excel spreadsheet with the company, contact info, and job title. I follow up 1 week later with every company to see where I stand as a candidate. I have almost exhausted my entire network that I am aware of and haven't been able to get something from in-person networking. I went to a manufacturing & design expo near my home recently and went to various booths for companies to hand in my resume. I literally drive business park to business park to hand in resumes to any companies that look related to what I studied. I am discouraged about finding something as it seems for every position I apply, there are probably around 50 applicants.

    I just don't know what to do to stand out, I write a personalized cover letter for every application. I'm going to join a few professional societies (American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Engineers without Borders) in my local area to try and network.

    I know getting into oil & gas right now is nearly impossible, but I thought there would at least be SOMETHING I can get into. I've applied to virtually every industry I can think of that chemical engineers might work.

    Anyone have additional advice beyond the standard advice for getting a first job? I went to a top 5 program for my major for crying out loud! I am still amazed that getting a job is this difficult!!

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2016 #2

    Student100

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    What state/city do you reside in?
     
  4. Feb 22, 2016 #3

    Maylis

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    Los Angeles, but I express in every cover letter that I am open to relocate
     
  5. Feb 22, 2016 #4

    Choppy

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    In my experience an online application is often about as effective as buying a lottery ticket. When a company has a position that's half decent, chances are there are people already lined up for it before it even gets advertised... internal applicants, interns, volunteers, co-op students, CEO's nephews etc. Posting externally is sometimes just a formality. So the issue is that when you find something online and fire off your resume, it's already in the back of the line.

    On top of that, the only way anyone will know who you are is through the details of the application and your resume. Among recent graduates competing for an entry-level position there probably isn't that much on paper that can really separate them.

    All of that said it sounds like you have some good ideas. Some other tips...
    1. Rather than just a personalized cover letter and resume, try calling to speak to someone about the advertised position to gain more information about it. You may not always get to talk with someone, but sometimes a five minute conversation can be golden. If you talk to someone on the hiring committee they can probably tell you whether there are internal candidates etc. They can also help you to come up with answers to common interview questions (What's special about this company? Why do you want to work here? etc.) And most importantly if they have any insight with respect to the details of the job, they can help you determine whether it's something you really want or not.

    2. Does your school have a career and placement services office and have you used it? Often these services are free or provided for a nominal fee for recent graduates. Sometimes they run workshops on resume building, interviewing, etc.

    3. Try following up with other graduates from your program. Where have your classmates gotten jobs? What about the class that came before you?

    4. Is there anything about your online presence that could be sabotaging your job hunt? Try Googling yourself and see what comes up.

    5. Completely abandon the "I went to a top 5 program" attitude. I understand your frustration, but the program won't work for you. Instead focus on the aspects of the program that have made you into a better candidate.

    6. Have you asked anyone for job shadows? Just because a company isn't currently hiring, doesn't mean that you can't gain some valuable insight by meeting some people that are working in your field. They might know of other places that are hiring, or when something might be coming down the pipe. They can also offer field-specific job-hunting tips.
     
  6. Feb 22, 2016 #5

    Maylis

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    Good point. With that said, I am not an internal applicant or the CEO's nephew. Now what?

    Good idea, I should try this. It will probably be challenging to get into the inner network of a company to find out who exactly I need to talk to. This isn't like the good ol' days where you can walk in and meet the business owner (this has worked when I go business park to business park though) and get a tour.

    I have used these services. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you look at it) I am no longer living near where I went to university. Our career website did not have too many positions for chemical engineers. I also went to every career fair, but that's the same thing as winning a lottery ticket.

    I've done this. In my lab class, we had alumni come every week to talk about their positions, as well as other meetings with alumni sponsored by the chemE department. I got business cards from all of them and followed up with each. Nothing ever came out of any of them unfortunately. I even was able to talk to the senior HR in one company because of an alumni connection, but it still didn't become anything.

    Nothing showed up. I'm not on facebook, twitter, or any social media except LinkedIn

    I don't have an attitude, but when you follow the advice of those around you who are teachers, parents, etc. and say "go to the best university you can and study STEM", you hope there will be a job when its over! Do recruiters look at GPA without regard to the university attended? Because I know for a fact that GPA doesn't indicate much all by itself. A 3.7 at University of Whatever is not the same as a 3.2 at MIT (for example)!! But if the recruiter is looking for a 3.7 minimum applicant, look who gets picked for an interview??

    I haven't tried this, I suppose it's plausible.
     
  7. Feb 22, 2016 #6

    StatGuy2000

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    Maylis, here is a question for you. Do you have any internship or co-op experience at all? In many engineering programs in North America (e.g. University of Waterloo in Canada), a student is required to complete either a co-op or internship as a condition of graduation, which should provide graduates with actual work experience.

    If you don't have these, then that may well explain why you are having so much trouble finding employment -- after all, if it comes to a choice between hiring someone with an internship or work experience vs those who did well in school but with no experience, employers will invariably choose someone with experience.

    That being said, the only advice beyond what you have already done and what Choppy has suggested is to keep applying and looking for positions. For starters, 60 applications is not nearly enough -- you should really be applying to hundreds of applications.
    And you've only been out of school for 2 months -- don't be surprised if you don't hear back from any of the places you've applied to for months before getting that first face-to-face interview. When I was laid off of one of my previous jobs, it took me 5 months and 140 applications before getting 2 face-to-face interviews (and eventually landing my next position).
     
  8. Feb 22, 2016 #7

    Student100

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    What's your GPA?

    I asked my friend who works at Lab Corp in San Diego if they had any positions in his group, they do not.

    Have you applied to graduate schools as well? Maybe you could get funded for a graduate program, if you aren't sick of school.
     
  9. Feb 22, 2016 #8

    Maylis

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    First I want to thank you for reaching out to try and help me. My GPA is 3.1. I'm sick of school and don't think I could actually get into grad school. Funny enough I just got an email from HR to talk about a job tomorrow. This is the best news I've had in 2 months. This was from that manufacturing expo I went to.

    I am working as an intern now and have been since October. Unfortunately, the company doesn't have the funds to hire someone full time, so I am basically underemployed at the moment. We are small and I don't foresee the company going anywhere in the time scale in which I need to find more gainful employment.
     
  10. Feb 22, 2016 #9

    Student100

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    Good news, good luck!
     
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