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High GPA, no experience, nearing graduation - feeling unhirable

  1. Mar 6, 2010 #1
    I'm a junior in college right now (planning on a 3.5 year graduation), majoring in engineering physics at a very good school. I've got a great GPA because I work hard during school, but I've got no research experience and no good work experience (my last two summers weren't spent very well) so now I feel like I have no useful skills and I don't know how to go about getting an internship/job. I'm willing to work in any industry where I get to use analytical skills.

    I got grilled in my first phone interview last night with the questions 'What skills exactly do you plan on applying, and to what?' and 'Name one time you did _______' and I didn't have answers to any of them. I don't feel like I'm going to get answers to those questions unless I get an internship... help?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2010 #2


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    You're on the late side to apply for internships for this summer, so get on it today! Talk to your college career/guidance counselors. Helping with issues like this is what they get paid for. They'll have lists of companies with internships, and tips on how to prepare a resume and prepare yourself mentally for interviews. You can also find some internship opportunities online by looking up large companies doing the kind of work that interests you and checking their career web pages.
  4. Mar 6, 2010 #3


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    Why the rush to graduate so quickly?

    It might be moreadvantageous in the long run to spread out your education over a longer time period. Get jobs over the summer - even if they have absolutely nothing to do with engineering or physics - skills such as sales, negotiation, clerical work, customer service, etc. have a great deal of marketable value. With respect to internships, it's not just the formal ones that count. By networking and asking around, you can probably find someone willing to take you on and teach you something.

    On a similar line of thinking, you could volunteer - just about any volunteer experience looks good on a resume or CV.

    Another option is to join or form some sort of club at your institution. There are engineering and/or physics societies that always need help. There are also competative teams where you would, for example, build a solar race car or solve a robotics problem. All this gives you experience that you can draw on when entering the job market.
  5. Mar 6, 2010 #4
    Interviews can be very difficult when you don't know what to expect. Remember that you get better at interviewing the more practice you get. There is lot's of information available online and in books about how to prepare for an interview. Research the company before the interview and ask lot's of questions pertaining mainly to the job you'd be doing and how it relates to other activities of the company.
  6. Mar 6, 2010 #5


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    Its such a shame how people rush through college these days. You are losing more that you are gaining by finishing in 3.5 yrs. Why not finish in 4.5 yrs? Why didn't you do a co-op for a semester or two? Grads coming out of college with 6 mnts - 1 yr co-op experience under their belt finish in about 4.5 yrs (where 4 may be the normal projected path). They are much more employable.

    For new grads, employers don't need experience, they need to make sure they can invest in YOU. Sure co-ops have that 6 mnts to a year edge over you, but you really missed out huge experience. You see its not the technical questions you should be scared of. Heck, you are probably academically smart to finish in 3.5 yrs. So you are confident in that. But what you missed out on is the professional experience to answer the questions when the hiring manager or HR calls you up on the phone. They usually don't ask you very technical questions (thats for the in-person interview). What they ask are BEHAVIORAL questions related to work. They wanna see the kind of person you are. They need know if they should invest more time in you. There is a huge reason why those questions which you are asked are so common (and so annoying, for the lack of a better word). They tell a lot about someone!

    So what you need to do is somehow prepare yourself to answer these behavioral questions by brining in experiences in school or otherwise personal. Usually, you back your answers up by relevant examples of things you have done. Sure you can work efficiently under stress. But the hiring manager is waiting for an example of such a situation. Hint hint....it not getting an A+ in calculus...
  7. Mar 7, 2010 #6
    I've had decent luck at poking fun at the typical interview questions. This may wait for an interview later in your career though. It's a little bit different when you already have the gig.
  8. Mar 8, 2010 #7
    I agree with most of what you said but I don't think someone who finished in 3.5 years is missing out on "professional" experience compared to someone who finished in 4.5 years. Plus, in my mind, finishing school early shows initiative and some sort of self-discipline, both attributes that smart employers look for.
  9. Mar 13, 2010 #8
    Typically resumes will only include a graduation date from college and employers won't know how long you spent. It is also very rare for an employer to actually look at your transcript. Employers are absolutely much more comfortable hiring people with some amount of experience. They want you to be able to show that you know what you're getting into and you're still excited about it. They don't want you finding out two months in that you hate the job. There are other ways to show that besides an internship, but it's much tougher unfortunately.
  10. Mar 17, 2010 #9
    Because college has become a cost that few can afford. :-\
  11. Mar 17, 2010 #10
    Since you're getting interviews, then you must be doing something right. You screwed up on interviews so that's not good. Practice. Go to your school's career center and do mock interviews. Practice behavioral and technical questions.

    I also agree that graduating early is not missing out on "professional experience." One can graduate early and still have plenty of extracurriculars and summer internships and even part-time internships during the school year.
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