For those who don’t know Engineering Career Services
Lynnell Lacy of Engineering Career Services (ECS) recently spoke in the class ME 390. She gave a very informative talk that included not just ECS but also interviews, resumes, job fairs, and advice for engineering students looking for internships and full-time jobs. Here is a summary.
About Lynnell and ECS:
Lynnell has worked on campus for 29 years. She loves to tell students, “If you’re not growing, you should be going.” The idea behind this is that if you are not moving up in your job or being challenged (aka growing in some way), you should be looking for a new job that will make you grow. Lynnell’s email is lynnellillinois [dot] edu
ECS is located in 3270 DCL. Their website is http://ecs.engineering.illinois.edu/. ECS requests that students first activate their I-Link account, which is where a current resume will be kept on file. To activate your account, go to http://engineering.illinois.edu/careers à students à create account. ECS offers resume reviews by appointment, and also has designated walk-in days. At specified times, employers will come to ECS to look over resumes and offer their own constructive criticism. ECS also offers mock interviews.
Lynnell talked about “SKAs,” which are the skills, knowledge and abilities that a recruiter is looking for. SKAs are job-specific. Your resume should directly relate to the job you apply for and contain those specific SKAs. Managers will read a resume for about thirty seconds, and in that time they will be looking for their desired SKAs. Your cover letter will contain more detail and go more in depth about the SKAs listed on your resume. As Lynnell put it, a resume is like a postcard, direct and to the point, while a cover letter is like an actual letter, talking about things in detail.
Lynnell advised that you do your homework before going to a career fair: you should be an encyclopedia on the company whose job you’re applying for. Know the name of the CEO, the company’s competitors, its products and goals, etc. See if the company has been in the news recently. Try to bring these elements into the conversation when talking with a recruiter so that they see you’ve done your research. Most importantly, go beyond their website. For example, talk to someone from the company or visit its location. Being involved on a more personal level will help you stand out to recruiters.
Having “a little something extra” to give a recruiter is another way to help yourself stand out. Lynnell suggested having a business card that you can give out, with a follow-up such as, “I’d love to get in touch with you to talk more about __________.”
Another word of advice about job fairs: If you don’t know the answer to a recruiter’s question, be honest. Say, “I’m sorry that I don’t have an answer for you right now, but I can look it up and get back to you by the end of the day.” And then follow through.
A good, firm handshake is always important. Here are some example questions:
Tell me about yourself. Respond with your elevator pitch.
Describe a time when you were met with conflict. What was it and how did you respond? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a project you worked on that failed. What did you learn from it and what would you do differently?
What is your biggest weakness and how do you address it? Be honest, but be smart and positive. For example, if you are a workaholic, don’t say “I’m a workaholic.” Say something along the lines of, “I like to do everything and I get satisfaction from working a lot, so my weakness is that I don’t allow myself enough personal time.”
You should have at least three questions of your own to ask an interviewer. For example, What is the work environment? What does your typical day look like?
Know your rights concerning job offers. For example, you have the right to a two-week response window after receiving an offer. Some companies will give you less time; if that isn’t enough, politely ask for an extension. Companies expect you to go after what you want. If you’re looking to negotiate a higher salary, better benefits, etc, ask. Don’t wait for your future boss to bring it up, because they won’t. And never accept an offer until you’ve considered all offers. Reneging on an offer reflects badly on the university and can have serious consequences.
A final word from Lynnell :
“’If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’ is not true. You always want to work hard, because if you’re not being challenged, you’re not going to be happy.”