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Needing general academic advice and different perspectives

  1. Jul 14, 2015 #1
    Evening all,

    I'm blessed to be doing well in school, on time to graduate, with no major setbacks. However, I have a few worries that I could use some sage advice on. I'm currently a junior in EE and CE.

    My first BS was in Exercise Science with a gpa of 3.0. I currently have a school GPA of 3.8 and a combined GPA of 3.3. In a world of elevator pitches, gpa filters and resume combing algorithms, what do I do with this on job/grad school applications? Is it worth mentioning or would it just bore the interviewer?

    How do I network? Literally, what do you do? Do you go to fairs and pass out resumes? Do you build a website highlighting your portfolio and email a link to your friends? When you meet a currently employed engineer by chance, do you just ask them if they're hiring interns? Do you wait two weeks so you don't seem eager haha?

    There's no undergrad research program at my school. I take the maximum number of classes each semester so I can graduate on time. Should I do my own project? Pursue internships and coops? Is there another way to stand out that I hadn't considered?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2015 #2
    List your GPA in engineering courses separate.

    Figure out how to get an internship or research opportunity if you can. Talk to the engineering faculty at your school for advice to approaches.

    Locations differ with the best approaches, and they will know what works in your area.
  4. Jul 15, 2015 #3


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    Graduate schools will require a copy of your transcripts so they're going to see everything.

    With a job application, the rules can be a lot more flexible. Present what's relevant for the position. In many cases GPA isn't relelvant at all.

    Networking is one of those popular catch phrases that a lot of people use, but often the details of the implementation are hidden. A lot of that is because the details are highly variable.

    It's very difficult to network through cold-contacting (phoning or emailing people you don't know). It's a lot easier to get in by "knowing someone" from the outset. You get to know people thorugh all sorts of different activities: internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, attending presentations, participating in engineering competitions and joining clubs, and even basic socializing. You'd be surprised at how many people get jobs because they happen to be on a sports team with someone who works at a given company. As a student something that can often be overlooked is to attend functions put on by your undergradute (physics/engineering/whatever) society. most come fro the free food, but these are great opportunities to make contacts with senior students. When you're a senior, if you have their contact information, that gives you an in - email them and ask what they're up to.

    When you meet someone who's working in the field you want to be in, ask about the field. Let them know that you're interested in employment opportunities and ask if they know of any opportunities. Remember that the answers you get will often depend on the questions you ask. "Are you hiring interns?" could easily get a "no" reply. But something a little more open ended like "Do you know of any opportunities for someone looking to get into your field?" or "Do you have any advice for someone in my shoes" might get you more information. This isn't necessarily becaue people are automatons, but just because a direct question will often challenge a person to come up with a direct answer and they might not think about that new recruitment program they got an email about three weeks ago.

    Also, as a general rule, I find that people like to give advice.

    If you do your own project it should really be done for your own personal enjoyment. It's very easy to put in a lot of time and get derailed if you're just doing it to demonstrate something and in the end, without a formal evaluation, it can be difficult to demonstrate that you actually got anywhere with it. One exception might be if you develop some software.

    Are there any competative engineering teams at you school? Those can be tremendously helpful both for networking and for giving you some tangible project experience.
  5. Jul 15, 2015 #4
    Thank you Dr. Courtney and Choppy.

    There is an IEEE school chapter with a robotics team, but my schedule every semester since I started has ran through their meetings, and I'm not going to cut class. I have the same issue with employment fairs sometimes.

    As far as networking, I have to admit I'm uncomfortable approaching people on the grounds that they can be beneficial to my career. It feels very "synthetic", almost dishonest.

    I'll just have to be involved in more extracurricular, non engineering things and hope I run into the "right" people.
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