Odds & Ends

What Every Engineering Graduate Needs to Know Before Job Hunting

I field a lot of emails and calls from soon-to-be graduates asking questions like: “how can I find a job after graduation?” and specifically “how can I work for a company like yours?”

While every company has different hiring values, these are suggestions I’ve made over countless emails that might help you land your dream job:

Think Ahead

Remember when all of those tables popped up on campus, and you suddenly found yourself walking through a sea of free swag?

Around September and February, companies are actively looking for entry-level recruits and interns. We call it “recruiting season” and for small companies like us, it’s the one time a year we find all of our entry-level hires and interns.

If you don’t see a specific company on campus, it’s worth checking a website and reaching out to see if the company you’re looking for is hiring too.

Take on a personal project

Personal projects are a great way to get involved, do something you’re passionate about, learn, and gain experience you otherwise might not have.

Check out Sparkfun, grab some friends, or work solo on something you’ve wanted to tinker with. It’ll make a great addition to your portfolio, and it also shows us you can self-direct and take initiative.

It’s even better if you learned enough to iterate on your design.

Get involved in the hardware community

MeetUps are an excellent way to meet a bunch of people that are interested in the same things you are.

‘Tribers regularly meet awesome people at these events, and we’ve formed a lot of great relationships with clients and people in the industry.

The content of MeetUps range, but at a minimum, it’s an opportunity to learn about what’s happening in the hardware world, share, and understand different perspectives and philosophies on product development.

MeetUps are not only great for networking (referrals go a long way!), but you might find something new out there that resonates with you and make some new friends while you’re at it.

Connect with your career center

Career centers on campus are usually incredibly helpful and free, and often arrange sessions like mock interviews to help you prep for your interview once you find an opportunity.

Your school’s career center probably has an active job board and resume database where employers view and post jobs and sort through resumes that might match who they’re looking for. It might have an alumni board and mailing lists available too.

Some career centers are also very involved in the students who utilize them and will directly refer students to employers they think are a good fit.

Reach out to professors and previous employers

That professor that you loved in school probably has real-world connections that can help you out or can point you in the right direction.

We reach out to professors and TAs in our recruiting season to help get the word out that we’re hiring and make matches they think resonate with our philosophy.

And, if you’ve had internships before, it’s a great time to reach out and see if your old manager has any connections or suggestions for you if they’re not currently hiring. Offer to meet up for coffee and to keep you in mind if they hear of anything.

Research startup companies and connect with those that interest you

Going to a school like Stanford is great for connections, but in reality, it’s not about where you went to school, only how you apply the knowledge you’ve gained.

AngelList can be a great resource for finding those startup companies that resonate with you, align with your experience and values, and it uses a mutual matching process, so you know going into the first call you’re both somewhat interested in each other.

Customize your cover letter

Yes, this takes time, but the payoff can be huge.

At Mindtribe, we take personalized cover letters pretty seriously. We’re looking for effective communicators, future leaders, and passionate teammates – which is a lot to convey in just a resume.

Taking the time to explain why you’d be a good fit, why you’re excited to work with someone, and why you resonate with their mission – especially if these are small startups where culture is so important – is impactful.

The smallest details can make a big difference.

Put together a website or portfolio

Link us to your Github, show us that awesome personal project you completed or the results of your senior capstone project.

We love looking at what you’ve done and understanding exactly which parts you’ve built. We also love playing with toys, so you can expect we’ll ask you to bring in something you’ve tinkered with during the interview process.

In the end, a lot of hiring is timing so try not to get discouraged if you don’t find something right away.

Keep building and keep learning.