How do you get in the loop?

  • Thread starter Curl
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Everyone wants someone with 5+ years experience. Unfortunately, I'm a type of person who wasn't born with experience. I can't get experience because I lack the 5+ years of experience necessary to start gaining experience.

So how do I get past this Catch-22 loop?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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One way is to go for temporary work with agencies. Most professions have a version of this.
In time all the temporary work will build up to better experience than could be obtained by staying in one place.
 
  • #3
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Ok now this sounds like you are asking for real advice. So pay attention.

Try to be less of an arse (edit: blunt, but true). You have come across really quite badly on a few of the threads you've made on here. If you have the same attitude in person then you are going to find it difficult to get people to want to work with you.

You need to realise you are going to have to start at the very bottom, doing boring (and sometimes crappy) work for those 5 or so years. Take a good look at what jobs you are applying for, and be honest in how you think you are coming across to people. Also really really try not to piss someone off needlessly, as most industries are quite incestuous, and people talk.

Not everyone wants 5+ years of experience, if this is the case you are aiming for jobs that are beyond your 'level'. Almost every large company has a graduate scheme, most small companies will have junior positions that you could tailor your current experence to suit. The alternative is do some free work to gain expereince, if money (or the lack of would be an issue) you can get temp work in a less skilled position.


However, I can sympathise with you on a job search. I graduated during the recession meaning competition with people with many years of experience and it drove salaries down. Just stick with it and something will come along.
 
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  • #4
AlephZero
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You have to realize that getting an engineering degree doesn't mean you know anything much that is useful to an employer. With luck, it means you know enough to self-study effectively for the rest of your working life.

Big employers with graduate entry schemes are prepared to fund your first 1 or 2 years of self-study before they expect any real payback. That means they are looking for people with the right attitude, who are not likely to walk out of the door at the first opportunity. And from sitting on the other side of the interview table, take my word for it that most people can't fake "the right attitude" for more than about 10 seconds.

I would be very cautious of contract agencies that are prepared to take on people with no experience. If they ask you for any money up front in return for some sort of guaranteed employment, that is almost certainly a scam. There's an old joke that goes "Q: Why does your company hire contract staff? A: Because it's illegal to own slaves."

Contractors are the first out of the door in a downturn. They have zero rights and get zero benefits (no free training courses, no paid vacations, no cutting a bit of slack when the kids fall sick, no pay when THEY fall sick, etc). The ideal contractor is somebody who turns up at 9:00 on the first mornng and is doing useful productive unsupervised work by 9:05. If you don't have all the exact skills the company needs on that particular day for that particular job, the company only has to give your agency one day's notice to swap you for somebody else who does.

Sure, contracting is a good way for experienced people with no personal commitments to make money for a while (until their skills get out of date and they have to move down-market, or fund their own training). But you don't meet that job description yet.
 
  • #5
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One way is to go for temporary work with agencies
I saw some of those postings and they want 8+ years of experience.

You have to realize that getting an engineering degree doesn't mean you know anything much that is useful to an employer.
No joke, I figured that out when I was 12. That's why everyone wants the 5+ years of experience.

You need to realise you are going to have to start at the very bottom, doing boring (and sometimes crappy) work for those 5 or so years.
Doing dumb work doesn't count, they want *related experience*. Having some idiotic job isn't going to make me better, therefore I won't be much more qualified than with 0 years of experience.

Looks like there's no luck unless your daddy owns a company or you came out of the punani with 5 years of experience. I think I'll apply to be a security guard, at least I can put on my resume that I'm 6'1", lat 240lbs. and run the 100m in 12 sec. Then I can think about my physics during the boring hours and wait until I can come out with something good enough to get me upgraded.

Has anyone here done something of this sort? Any advice?
 
  • #6
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Has anyone here done something of this sort? Any advice?
Plenty of advice here. Just none you want to hear.
 
  • #7
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Plenty of advice here. Just none you want to hear.
True, I want to hear useful advice, not "go get a job and gain experience". You probably haven't read the OP.
 
  • #8
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Curl, it's all in the way you write your CV.

You may do a boring and 'dumb' job for a few years, but you need to spin it. Make it relevant - that's what I've always been told. A simple example would be don't say you worked on a checkout for a year, say you have strong customer services experience - same job, different angle.

The advice given above is correct and used correctly, can be very useful to you.

Not all jobs require experience, it does sound as if you're trying to go for jobs out of your league at the moment.
 
  • #9
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Now there's some useful advice.

I don't think I'm "aiming high", I looked at every job posting and they all say the same thing. I'd be happy if someone could show me a link to a job which says it won't require experience.

I even noticed that most internship postings say you need past internship experience. You need experience to get experience, ROFL. What kind of failed logic is that?
 
  • #10
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Attend job fairs at universities, and use the resources provided for you there. I haven't even graduated and I already have two years experience working in the aviation industry as an assistant to an engineer.

Unless you got your degree online, your university should have many resources to help you find somewhere to start. Mississippi State has a co-op program where you apply for paid internships in a speed-dating style of interview process. I made 15 dollars an hour as an assistant for a production engineer at Eurocopter. As far as I'm concerned that beats the hell out of unpaid internships.

No one is going to want you to build them a plane out of the gate so you have to do several years of grunt work to build a resume.

No one looking for graduates is going to expect prior experience.

When you interview make sure you don't gripe about the kind of work you don't like doing, because a company wants you to do the work they pay you to do, not the work you think you should be doing... At least until you prove yourself doing the boring stuff.
 
  • #11
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How did you get into your internship? At my university there are about 4 postings and 200 students. Might as well buy a lottery ticket if I'm going to try my luck.

Is anyone here in the US Military? I figure I could try that, work on planes and tanks, and if they have trouble they can send me in on the frontline -> sounds like a good selling point.
 
  • #12
minger
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It seems to me you're looking for an excuse for not being able to find a job. Jobs are out there. People work right now, right? It's not like they just started this minimum experience requirement.

I just briefly did a very general search on a governmental job posting website and found TONS. . . .TONS TONS TONS of GS-9/11 grade jobs. Assuming you have or will soon obtain at least your BS, you qualify.

A quick search on a popular job posting website using <Engineering> and <Entry Level> as categories lists 45,669 postings. Many of these aren't exactly engineering, but many are.

The first thing is first, though. You really should change your attitude. No one will hire you if you keep up this condescending tone.
 
  • #13
russ_watters
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True, I want to hear useful advice, not "go get a job and gain experience". You probably haven't read the OP.
The OP is based on a false premise. When you give a false premise, people will correct it without answering it the way you want. So the others are correct: you're getting good answers, but you just don't want to hear them. So I'll repeat:
Everyone wants someone with 5+ years experience.
No they don't. Suck it up and get an entry-level job.

More:
I looked at every job posting and they all say the same thing.
No, you didn't, no they don't. You're whining here and we're not going to be sympathetic to obvious BS. Grow up.
 
  • #14
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Here are the first postings under "engineering/arch" on craigslist for MEs (in order by date):

• Minimum of 2 years engineering related course work and/or 2 years engineering experience.
**********
5-10 years of engineering experience in a manufacturing environment.
5 years experience in product application and/or systems design.
5+ years of CAD experience, Solidworks required.
**********
- Minimum of 15 years’ design experience with narrow and wide body aircraft retrofits.
**********
Candidates should have 5 or more years of energy engineering experience
**********
1) 7 + years experience in tool design
2) 5000 + hours on Catia V5. Solidworks and PROE experiece is perferred.
**********
The successful candidate will have a BSME or comparable degree and a minimum of 15 years experience.
**********
• 7+ years of engineering experience in a product development and manufacturing environment.
• 5+ years of CAD experience required, Solidworks required
**********
• 5-8 years of relevant commercial experience as a project architect or job captain, with a strong background in corporate workplace interiors
**********
QUALIFICATIONS
• Washington State registered professional engineer
**********
Preference given to candidates with 7+ years relevant experience
**********
etc. etc. I'm bored copying and pasting. Oh, and there is 1 post for entry-levels (found it on monster.com).

Rather than hearing "you're a whiny little b!tch" how about I hear your story? How did YOU get in? That's all I wanted to know.
 
  • #15
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You seem to think there is a 'trick' to getting a job. There really, really isn't. It's just a huge grind finding positions.

Step 1: Apply for a job you have a realistic chance of getting.

Search for 'Graduate engineer' 'junior engineering postion' (you get the idea) rather than 'mechanical engeineer'. Or search for the lower salary brackets. You may have to widen your area of search.

Also, note the wording of the first entry in your list.
Minimum of 2 years engineering related course work and/or 2 years engineering experience.
It's more than likely you could use your engineering experience at University to count towards the two years. It's important to not to forget Uni work, when they say experience, they don't just mean experience doing that specific job. So you need to think and tailor a CV so that things you did at University are relevent to that specific job. This is as much about spin as anything.

Compare this to:
Minimum of 15 years’ design experience with narrow and wide body aircraft retrofits.
This will clearly have 'Senior/lead/principal' in the job title and you shouldn't realistically think you can do the job.

The bottom line in if I were you I'd apply for anything that says 2 years experence (and below obv). Unless it specifically states a graduate AND 2 years relevent experience. Even then it may be worth a punt, an email application costs nothing and the worst they can say is no.

Step 2: Have a CV and covering letter tailored to that specific job.

This is a pain, as you may end up having 5-10 subtley different CV's. They really do work better than a generic covering letter. The idea is to get acros you know and can apply the basic skills in engineering. Showing you have the ability to learn the job.

Larger companies are likely to have core 'compentancies'. Ie a basic indicator of skills in teamworking, communication, problem solving etc. It's good to have at least 3 examples for each compentancy.

Step 3: Come across well at interviews.
It's something that comes naturally, or something you will have to work on.

It comes naturally to me so... I'm afraid I can't really give any specific advice on this one.
 
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  • #16
minger
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Here are the first postings under "engineering/arch" on craigslist for MEs (in order by date)
You're searching the wrong place, dude. There are tons of entry-level jobs. Maybe craigslist isn't the right place to start your career? See my previous post.
 
  • #17
turbo
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When I was a process chemist in a pulp mill, my compatriots and I had to train the new "engineers" who would eventually become our bosses. Newly-minted chemical engineering graduates did not have the mill-specific knowledge that would allow them to hit the ground running, even if they took the special 5-year Pulp and Paper Engineering track. It is a fiction that newly-graduated engineers are valuable and competent. Thus the requirement for some experience for anything more than an entry-level position.

BTW, be glad that you're young. The flip-side to "need experience" listings is that many employers won't hire older, well-qualified applicants because they are "over-qualified" (too old).
 
  • #18
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How did you get into your internship? At my university there are about 4 postings and 200 students. Might as well buy a lottery ticket if I'm going to try my luck.

Is anyone here in the US Military? I figure I could try that, work on planes and tanks, and if they have trouble they can send me in on the frontline -> sounds like a good selling point.
I am in the military and I worked on helicopters. I can say that is why I got an internship working in aviation as a freshmen. Quit looking at postings and talk to people. Go to the career office on campus and start talking to staff. They will guide you in the right direction.
It's their job. (Don't say anything that you said to us in here.) Walk in and say, I need a job, but I'm not sure where to start (don't say you have looked anywhere else). Let them guide you. It wouldn't take much to offend/tick-off these people if you have the wrong attitude.
I got the internship in competition with about twenty other applicants. Four of them including myself got a second interview. It was also one of two offers I got that semester.

The job won't fall in your lap, you will have to talk to people and find out who is looking for someone with your skill set. This process could take months so start now.
 
  • #19
Agreed, you're looking in the wrong place.

Entry level jobs will be found:
1) On company websites. Usually big companies are best. The government is a good big company as well.
2) At college recruitment type events, a.k.a. career fairs

And if you haven't graduated yet, fight hard to get an internship before you do. It's much easier if you've had at least one.

Ultimately it's going to be tough and you're going to have to apply to lots of jobs, while continually evolving and figuring out why you didn't get each, before you get one.....but that's what everyone who has a job does unless they graduated from MIT with perfect grades and cured cancer while they were there. Either put in the time or don't get a job.
 
  • #20
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My first job was a vacation job for a consulting engineer. True, I only got a pittance and had to live in an old car, but it was two months experience, and I asked a lot of questions. After that the same firm offered me a 1 year job also on shabby pay, and then ... I had 14 months experience, and that counted for the next job. Frankly, the firm was doing me a favour, and they needed an intelligent dog's body. I fitted that role.
 
  • #21
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Alright, a lot of good stuff here.

I got one more question:
In interviews, they'll likely ask why you are applying, what your goals are, etc. If I tell the straight-up truth "I don't care about this boring position, I just want to gain some experience and then ditch you to go work on gas turbine engines" then obviously it is equivalent to walking out. If I say I'm interested/passionate about the job, then I'd be lying, and I don't think it is a good idea. A third alternative is to BS something that sounds good, but I don't know how effective this is or if it is a good thing to do. So what is the best thing to say?
 
  • #22
turbo
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Alright, a lot of good stuff here.

I got one more question:
In interviews, they'll likely ask why you are applying, what your goals are, etc. If I tell the straight-up truth "I don't care about this boring position, I just want to gain some experience and then ditch you to go work on gas turbine engines" then obviously it is equivalent to walking out. If I say I'm interested/passionate about the job, then I'd be lying, and I don't think it is a good idea. A third alternative is to BS something that sounds good, but I don't know how effective this is or if it is a good thing to do. So what is the best thing to say?
How about saying that you want to gain experience and grow into a better position? Freshly-degreed engineers are a dime a dozen. Show some enthusiasm! If you have some reason to work in that region (friends or families in the area), let them know about that, too, so it won't be that easy for a head-hunter to poach you if turn out to be good at what you do.

I could have made a LOT more money over the years if I had been willing to move away from Maine. I wasn't.
 
  • #23
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I got one more question:
In interviews, they'll likely ask why you are applying, what your goals are, etc. If I tell the straight-up truth "I don't care about this boring position, I just want to gain some experience and then ditch you to go work on gas turbine engines" then obviously it is equivalent to walking out. If I say I'm interested/passionate about the job, then I'd be lying, and I don't think it is a good idea. A third alternative is to BS something that sounds good, but I don't know how effective this is or if it is a good thing to do. So what is the best thing to say?
Again, as per my CV comment, it's all in how you spin it. Make the situation relevant to you and the job even if it isn't even close.
 
  • #24
russ_watters
Mentor
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Here are the first postings under "engineering/arch" on craigslist for MEs (in order by date)....
Obviously, people don't just post entry-level jobs online, they post all jobs online, so you have to narrow your search appropriately. If you just search for all ME jobs, you'll probably find at most 5% of them are entry-level jobs. This should be both obvious and non-distressing.

I searched on Monster and it does a pretty crappy job of sorting by experience. So you may need to do it manually. I looked for ME jobs in a 50 mile radius of Philly and it there were 167 hits and it looks it could be about 5% entry-level. You'll also need to try both more general ("engineer") and more specific ("hvac engineer") search terms.
Rather than hearing "you're a whiny little b!tch" how about I hear your story? How did YOU get in? That's all I wanted to know.
1. By not being a "whiny little b!tch", for starters. You need to start accepting that this matters. A good interviewer can smell an attitude problem even if you're trying hard to hide it and there's no way they'll hire someone with an attitude. In an interview, you need to be confident but not arrogant, personable but not so laid-back you seem lazy, excited for the opportunity, but not desperate. Finding a job sucks, especially in a down economy. You need to be able to deal with it without showing frustration.

2. Apply for jobs with 2 years or less experience and play-up any practical experience you may have, such as a senior design project.

3. Apply for jobs below your skill level in the field you want. It's a poor economy, so you may have to accept such a job. In a firm like mine, an HVAC designer and an HVAC engneer have overlapping skillsets to the point where they can be indistinguishable. You'll probably start making 2/3 what you should, but it's better than working at McDonalds and will give you useful experience.

4. Buy [read] this book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/158008270X/?tag=pfamazon01-20
It has useful advice and strategy and includes a healthy dose of realism and cheerleading, which you need.

5. As others said, job fairs and school career counselors are a good resource too.

For me personally, I had a little bit of experience working for my dad when I was in high school as an energy engineer. It wasn't much and wasn't directly related to the job, but it showed I could talk and think like an engineer when I described it. But what probably most got me the job was I was a Navy man and so was my boss.
Is anyone here in the US Military? I figure I could try that, work on planes and tanks, and if they have trouble they can send me in on the frontline -> sounds like a good selling point.
Well as a degreed engineer, I would certainly not enlist, I'd go in as an officer, but that's a pretty big commitment of time. Straight out of high school, it's good for getting your head on straight and using the military to pay for college, but most of that benefit has past for you.
 
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  • #25
Mech_Engineer
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Rather than hearing "you're a whiny little b!tch" how about I hear your story? How did YOU get in? That's all I wanted to know.
Lots of good advice being thrown around here. I empathize with your situation as I lived it (and I have many friends with this problem as well), so I'll give you my "in" story.

I worked on a side project with one of my professors analyzing a part in FEA. I did a good job and was proactive in the problem solving process, got paid a very small amount of money (like $300 total), but impressed the professor enough that he was willing to recommend me. Come time for the career fair at the university, I went and talked to a few companies but didn't really get any useful leads. I went to talk to that professor about my FEA class later on that afternoon, and a guy and his co-worker stops by to talk to the prof. It turns out he had him for a class when he was getting his degree 10 years ago or so, and he was at the career fair looking for a new mechanical engineer (but I missed his booth completely, oops). My professor mentioned in passing "if you're looking for a good engineer, I've got one for you right here" and *boom* I was in. Invited out for an interview, interviewed well and showed I had a good understanding in my classes and was hired on (above a PhD student with good grades but very little off-the-top-of-his-head useful knowledge, and an engineer with 7 yrs experience, but no real good quantification of what he had accomplished in his years of experience).

I think that overall, you'll find that networking is as important if not more so than grades. My guess is almost every engineer you meet will have a story of how a contact or friend or family member got them a job (Russ, a Navy man, was hired on by another Navy man for example). No networking, and you have to go based on grades alone, which means they had better be pretty damn good. This also explains why large companies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing heavily weigh employee recommendations- networking matters!!! I personally got a job due to networking, social skills (a.k.a. "likeable"), understanding of core fundamental engineering concepts like design requirements (surprisingly, few new-grad engineering students have this), and good interviewing under pressure.
 
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