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Job Skills What activities can a student do to stand out?

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dRic2

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I was looking to a PhD application reserved to students that have just finished a degree in the field and this phrase got my attention:

Ensure your CV is complete with all skills and experience that make you stand out as a candidate.
Unfortunately I don't have job experience. A part from that (which - I think - not many students have) what sort of things can a student do to impress future employers ?

Thanks
Ric
 

fresh_42

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I was looking to a PhD application reserved to students that have just finished a degree in the field and this phrase got my attention:



Unfortunately I don't have job experience. A part from that (which - I think - not many students have) what sort of things can a student do to impress future employers ?

Thanks
Ric
Learn another language.
 

dRic2

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Is my English that bad ?
 

kuruman

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Did you receive any awards? Did you author or coauthor any papers that were published in (ideally) refereed journals? Did you attend any conferences and present papers there? Did you participate in original research in your field? Stuff like that.
 

fresh_42

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Is my English that bad ?
I don't know. English doesn't really count, it is more or less self-evident. Which language would be best depends on where you live, resp. what an employer could need. In the US it could be Spanish, in Europe maybe Mandarin or another European language, e.g. Spanish again, French or Russian.
 

berkeman

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what sort of things can a student do to impress future employers ?
It probably depends on the field of employment, but at least for Engineering, I look at the kinds of projects a candidate has done in the past. That can be from previous jobs, and it can also be from projects they've done on their own. If they have experience in coding for embedded design because they've done some Arduino projects, that can be a plus. If they've used FPGAs/CPLDs as part of those projects, that can be an even bigger plus. If they've built some fun projects from scratch (like power supplies, digital clocks, radios, simple computers, etc.), that definitely stands out. And when they come for an interview, we are going to talk in depth about those projects so I can see what they have learned from them. :smile:

You can probably think of other examples of projects for different fields of work -- chemistry, architecture, other Engineering fields (ME, CE, etc.), and so on...

What is your particular field and specialization?
 

dRic2

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Thanks a lot for all the replies.

Did you receive any awards? Did you author or coauthor any papers that were published in (ideally) refereed journals? Did you attend any conferences and present papers there? Did you participate in original research in your field? Stuff like that.
Wow. Ok, I'm totally out.

I don't know. English doesn't really count, it is more or less self-evident. Which language would be best depends on where you live, resp. what an employer could need. In the US it could be Spanish, in Europe maybe Mandarin or another European language, e.g. Spanish again, French or Russian.
I see. Thanks for the suggestion. Although it might be a little late...

It probably depends on the field of employment, but at least for Engineering, I look at the kinds of projects a candidate has done in the past.
Unfortunately I have never done a project of the kind you mentioned. Maybe I'll try something in the next year.

Well, I guess I do not stand out at all. Funny thing is that it's the first time someone told me all these things. No one, even professors, told me about this stuff during the last 4 years.
 
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fresh_42

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No one, even professors, told me about this stuff during this 4 years.
It all depends on the situation. It makes a big difference whether you apply for an academic job, a specific technical job, or a management position. And it depends on the business field of the company you apply for a job. I would give different answers on different combinations of that. Projects at universities are pretty much worthless outside the academic field, at least as far as my experiences go. Programming, as well as languages or certain norms (ISO 9000, BS 7799) are skills which represent a value for businesses.

A foreign language is always a good idea, because it is not only useful but also shows that you do more than what is requested. And languages play a far bigger role in Europe than they do in the US. I remember a situation in the states in which I had difficulties to find the correct words. People looked at me as if I was mentally handicapped. If this had been anywhere in Europe, people would have tried another language or hand signs.
 

StatGuy2000

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I was looking to a PhD application reserved to students that have just finished a degree in the field and this phrase got my attention:



Unfortunately I don't have job experience. A part from that (which - I think - not many students have) what sort of things can a student do to impress future employers ?

Thanks
Ric
I see from your profile that you are from Italy and have graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Is it typical for engineering students in Italy not to have job experience, even in internships?

Because, to be honest, that would place Italian engineering graduates at a disadvantage when seeking graduate school or in employment (in Italy or outside).
 

dRic2

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I see from your profile that you are from Italy and have graduated with a degree in chemical engineering. Is it typical for engineering students in Italy not to have job experience, even in internships?
I guess so. I mean, I know (and heard) of no one. To be honest I'm most amazed by the fact that it appears to be so common in other countries: when do you get the time to do such a thing while studying ?
 

symbolipoint

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#13,
I did not understand why that video either. Maybe berkeman could explain.

The point was not that your English was bad or anything. Post #5 is good advice no matter how your English is. More languages or at least one additional language could often be good, potentially helpful in communication either spoken or written. Potentially very helpful for cultural understanding.
 

dRic2

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#13,
I did not understand why that video either. Maybe berkeman could explain.

The point was not that your English was bad or anything. Post #5 is good advice no matter how your English is. More languages or at least one additional language could often be good, potentially helpful in communication either spoken or written. Potentially very helpful for cultural understanding.
Yes, but it is unluckily that I will learn at a decent level a new language in one year. I understand the high potentiality and I will consider it for the future, but as things stand right now I think I should try other ways.
 

symbolipoint

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Yes, but it is unluckily that I will learn at a decent level a new language in one year. I understand the high potentiality and I will consider it for the future, but as things stand right now I think I should try other ways.
Sure. This depends on how well a language is taught, your level or kind of interest, and how much time you want to spend on it (language). One must make decisions like these according to ones interest and goals. Regarding a language, one year is a possible minimum of time to invest. MORE time and "semester" terms would be better. Actual use of it/them are better.
 
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what sort of things can a student do to impress future employers ?

Thanks
Ric
Stand out by not trying to stand out. Pursue your passion. Standing out will emerge all by itself.
 

Dr. Courtney

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Stand out by not trying to stand out. Pursue your passion. Standing out will emerge all by itself.
For me, standing out has two necessary components:

1. Do everything with excellence. Checking all the boxes with mediocrity won't help.

2. Do things that matter to those reviewing your applications. For grad school, these include high GPA, productive research (as demonstrated by recommendation letters and publications), and a good GRE score (especially the PGRE). For industry employers, these include a high GPA, productive employment in STEM, and an impressive technical skill set relative to the job requirements. (Programming and instrumentation skills are often important.) For educational employers, these include earning the needed certification(s) and gaining teaching experience (tutoring and course assistant jobs are available for many undergrads).
 

StatGuy2000

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I guess so. I mean, I know (and heard) of no one. To be honest I'm most amazed by the fact that it appears to be so common in other countries: when do you get the time to do such a thing while studying ?
In some engineering programs in Canada (where I am located) there are what is called co-operative programs (co-op for short) where students alternate between classroom time and time spent with employers in formal internships. In such programs students can gain up to 2 years of work experience while finishing their undergraduate degree, for a total length of 5 years.

In other universities in Canada, an engineering program will typically be 4 years, and students pursue internship opportunities during the summer months when they have time off from school.

Do students in Italy not have time off during their studies?
 
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dRic2

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In some engineering programs in Canada (where I am located) there are what is called co-operative programs (co-op for short) where students alternate between classroom time and time spent with employers in formal internships. In such programs students can gain up to 2 years of work experience while finishing their undergraduate degree, for a total length of 5 years.

In other programs in Canada, an engineering program will typically be 4 years, and students pursue internship opportunities during the summer months when they have time off from school.

Do students in Italy not have time off during their studies?
Here the majority of people try to finish in 3 years (as I did) so you do not have time for such activities. Of course we have time off, but I usually spend it studying for exams. In particular if you want very good grades I don't think you can possibly have spare time to look for internships and keep it all to 3 years. Usually, if you're lucky, at the end of your MS degree you take 6 month off to prepare your thesis work in a company/industry. I guess in Italy universities strongly privilege "theory" over "practice". (To be honest there are pro and cons, but that's the story... more or less).
 
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Some examples, I can think of are:
- learning Machine Learning+python or Julia or Matlab and applying it to stuff in your field.
- Learn how to apply an arduino or raspberry-pi to experiments done in your field to collect or process data.
- do some tutoring to help undergrads in your field
 

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