It depends on the type of engineering degree and the current demand for people with that degree.
In my case, I interviewed with a company and they offered me a job right away, i.e. the next morning. At the time, I was one of few people in the US who had experience with a particular code, and the company was desperate.
The demand for engineers (Mech E, EE, Chem E, . . .) rises and falls. There are certain areas, e.g. nanotechnology, which become very popular but then the demand tends to saturate.
While a student, it is worthwhile to become a student member of the technical/engineering society in the field of study, in order to start making contacts and meeting people in industry. Also, reading scientific and engieering journals keeps one abreast of current activities and future developments.
The general fields, like EE and ME usually have at least some demand all the time. I don't know how lucky I was, but I found my first job in 2 months in a pretty mediocre job market (I was in the navy just out of college, so it was a little bit of an unusual situation). More specialized, like Aero, depend on the political climate as much as anything. Aero is a tough one these days to find a job in.
Getting a job is all about effectively communicating you abilities, and persistence! Make sure to join professional organizations (and participate in them), be active in your pursuit of industry experience, and practice your basic interviewing skills.
Don't get discouraged by companies telling you they are not interested, you need to interview with as many companies as possible. Also, you must keep your options open and be willing to interview with companies you might not have thought of before. Finally, be willing to relocate to a different area. It might be nice to live in the same city you have lived in for 10 years, but you cut out tons of opportunities by saying you don't want to relocate.
I graduated with a friend who was an Aero, but he didn't try hard enough to get a job (too easily discouraged). I have a job with a large government contractor, and he works in insurance. He had a better GPA than I did too.
BTW, I was on the job just shy of 4 months, and one of my companies clients offered me a job. :rofl: I had just moved 1800 miles, and I wasn't about to pack up and move again. I made the right decision based on what I have achieved so far.
I would also add that these days, it helps to be up on the latest analytical methods, e.g. FEM and multiphysics packages, the latest diagnostic techniques, and materials.
These days, an engineer needs to be academically diversified and versatile.
I must say that I have never really had too much of an issue finding a job in the ME area. If you keep your options open and look at all possibilities, not just the really cool sounding jobs, I think you'd be surprised as to how many opportunities are out there.
I second Astro's stating the need for engineers to be diversified in their knowledge.
In the UK at least there seems to be quite a shortage of good engineering graduates, - there are plenty of jobs to be had, but the biggest recruiters of engineering graduates have high standards and won't just take anyone with a degree. So yes, the jobs are there, but holding a certificate isn't the only thing you need to get one.
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