View Full Version : How did you GET your job(s)?

11-30-2005, 08:38 AM
We've had threads about where people work, now I'm interested in HOW they got their jobs.

How did you get your major (career type) jobs?
(I'm not particularly interested how you got "in" at McDonalds, unless you really feel like sharing, in which case I'm sure someone cares.)

Were you recruited?
Did you apply to that specific company?
Did they pull your resume offline?
Did a friend recommend you?
What matters most?

Who you know.
What you know.
Who knows what you know.
What they THINK you know (How your interview/resume looks.)
Let's hear it.

Don Wright
11-30-2005, 08:52 AM
I got a job at AVL as an Intern in 1994. A guy who used to work with my dad at Ford now worked at AVL and turned in my resume and recommended me.

I graduated and went to another company where some people I had worked with at AVL had gone to. They turned in my resume and recommended me.

In 2000, I was approached by people that were still here at AVL about coming back. They turned in my resume and recommended me.

I'm still here.

Honestly, who you know gets you in the door.

What you know keeps you there.

What you learn, who you meet, and what you do moves you up.

FIRST is an incredible way to network. Even better than Greek organizations, IMHO. It's amazing how many people I can meet in meetings or otherwise who have some FIRST experience and we can immediately relate and connect on a personal/professional level.

Jack Jones
11-30-2005, 08:53 AM
I never applied nor even created a resume. My SYS 501 professor at Oakland University recommended me for a research position at TACOM's Applied Research Branch. I interviewed the next day, got the job, and have been there ever since Ė 20 years.

So, in my case, it was all three that mattered.

11-30-2005, 09:16 AM
Well, toward the end of my senior year in high school, the principle pulled me out of class one day. He said he had [name] here from the Educational Technology and Information Services (department of the school district) and that they'd like me to work for them and asked me if I was interested. I said yes. They had me make a resume which I did, and then off to work I went! I guess the ETIS had been looking for people at my school and asked the principal, and then the pricipal recommended me.

Too bad I don't think I'll be getting too many other jobs that way.

11-30-2005, 09:29 AM
For my 8 jobs as an engineer over the last 20 years:

Resume => college placement listings
Resume => newspaper ad
Resume => newspaper ad
Resume => newspaper ad

For the record: headhunters are only interested in you while you are presently employed. If you are unemployed you are pretty much on your own.

11-30-2005, 09:35 AM
Believe it or not Ms. Erin Rapacki plays a role in getting me a job.

In high school Erin and I were on the same team, #175 Buzz Robotics. After graduating from high school I went to Wentworth in Boston. A year later Erin went to Northeastern University. She invited me to a team meeting for FIRST team #125. Team #125 is made up of Northeastern, local high schools and Textron Systems.

I had been on the team for two years when one of the engineers from Textron, George Perna, was impressed with what I was doing there and recommended me for a co-op at Textron Systems. I got the job and I have never left. After graduating from college I was hired on full time as a software engineer.

Al Skierkiewicz
11-30-2005, 09:39 AM
When I was nearing graduation from Bradley University, I was sending out large numbers of resumes and cover letters. I had mailed about 80 and had received only 3 or 4 "no"s and nothing else. I interviewed on campus whenever a rep from a company came around. (TI, GE, etc.) Still no offers or interviews. Finally I signed up for an interview on campus with a multi rep who was looking for a variety of jobs for several companies. When I sat down, he looked at me and said "I don't want to waste your time, I have nothing to offer." By this time I was pretty frustrated and I asked how he could not have anything for me. I had good grades, was willing to relocate, and had extensive work experience including factory production and TV on campus. He said he couldn't touch the starting wages in TV, had I ever tried a TV station. Well I had never thought of it and as I was making minimum wage at the current job I didn't think TV paid that well. I went back to my apartment with a list of station addresses and mailed out 7 resumes. That was Thursday afternoon, and by Monday I receiving calls to come in for interviews. By the following Thursday I had heard from every one of the stations and had many interviews set up for spring break. I went into one and the Chief engineer was so impressed that he told me the next job opening was mine and to keep him informed of my whereabouts. Three days later I received a call from that man and was told that another engineer had given his notice the previous day and the job was mine. I went back to school with a job and I have been there ever since, 33 years next May. I often think of that interviewer and how he helped me so much. I never knew his name or for whom he worked, I hope he has had a great life, I have.

Alexander McGee
11-30-2005, 10:52 AM
I got my first "real" job working for Stryker Instruments. Recently, I requested to be transfered to our sister division, Stryker Medical. Most notably, the company is committed to 20% growth each year, and we have for over 20 years. Add that up for a minute... :D

My University helps students find jobs quite a bit, but regards Stryker as one of their "top 5" hardest employers to get into. They have a series of 5 steps to the application process, including a Gallup interview, 20 staff interviews, as well as beating down the HR Recruiter's defenses by impressing them.

My dad has always said that "It doesn't mater what you know, it's about who you know" and this is certainly true for a lot of people, and a lot of employers. I read somewhere that a good 60% of the jobs out there are taken by people who "know someone" in the company, and that makes sense.

However, when you get right down to it, you can't fake a Gallup interview, and you either know how to do your job well, or you don't. I think a great resume has a lot to do with it, and a lot of people can't seem to get this right at my school. I have had over 30 job offers at various employers, but I have, and continue to turn them down because I want to work for Stryker.

My school is an exception form the norm though, because everyone has a job somewhere (co-op school, visit http://www.kettering.edu), but I made my resume a long time ago and the school didn't help me much, though they offered to a lot. The problem people have is that they don't update their resume a lot, and you have a list of things that you did over a span of 10 years or so. I like to keep the most recent information on there, at the top.

More to the point, I pursued the job I have now because I love the company and their products. I have posted online at monster.com and all of those, and the school sends me jobs that I might like occasionally, and a lot more when i was a freshman. Again, unique situation, but still.

When you come down to it, a healthy balance of what you know, and how you present yourself is most important. However, who you know never hurts either.

11-30-2005, 11:04 AM
Campus interview with Duke Power (Duke Energy) recruiter at Southern Technical Institute (now Southern Polytech) in Marietta, GA. Recruiter was looking for mechanical engineers but I scheduled an interview anyway (electrical). He took my resume and another recruiter called a week later. I was offered a job the next month and have been at Duke Energy for 25 years. Most important thing is good resume and how you interviewed, not what or who you know.

11-30-2005, 11:24 AM
I went through a directory of libraries in Connecticut and sent my resume to each one. After several months I was interviewed and offered a position in the library system at United Technologies where I stayed for 25 years. I found my most recent position online. As a side note, I had posted my resume online and a headhunter actually called me and offered some suggestions for improving it. I thought that was great!

And my current employer googled me before my interview. Be careful what you post online in blogs, etc. It could haunt you in a job interview.

11-30-2005, 11:40 AM
Good discussion and an refreshing topic. (Thanks JVN!)

First off, I will answer the question, and then I will provide some perspective
I got both my co-operative education assignment and my full-time employment positions (both engineering positions) through Campus Career Services at Penn State University. Many colleges and universities have excellent career services centers.

I have been fortunate to have been a recruiter for the DuPont Company for the past 10 years. So, during the fall, I have recruited for DuPont at various college campuses (Penn State, Purdue, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Drexel, etc.).

Given my recruiting experience, here is my advice for college students looking for employment:

(1) understand how your college career centers operate and utilize them. Most major employers will interact through these centers.

(2) if your college / university holds a career fair event, go to it and participate. This is how recruiters see how you communicate and determine if you are a fit with their company culture

(3) keep your GPA up. Many employers have GPA cutoffs for both co-op / intern positions and full-service positions.

(4) acknowledge your experience in a well-written resume

(5) work early in your college career to get relevant work experiences

(6) participate in local school chapters of engineering / other organizations that interact with Corporate America (career focused - Society of Women Engineers, American Society Mechanical Engineers, IEEE, SME, National Society of Black Engineers, etc.)

While "who you know" is important, it may initially limit you from finding the best job you can find. "Who you know" is dynamic. I have built solid relationships with recruiters over time. Also, "who you know" does not make up for deficiences in communication, experience, education, or leadership.

Every potential hiring situation is different. Understand what you are looking for in a position, this might require significant research. Once you have a good idea, target the companies who have the job(s) you are interested in. Understand their company culture and hiring needs. Talk to representatives at job fairs. Write the best resume you can, keep it truthful, and focus on what makes you unique versus the hundreds of other resumes the recruiter will see, be professional and enthusiastic.

I have worked for DuPont for 17 years and it has been my only employer since I graduated from college. While the work environment has greatly changed over the years, the way people find jobs or jobs find them has not. Focus on understanding and communicating who you are, what you want, and what drives you. Use who you know as a network, but also research other companies or organizations you have interest in. Be positive, energetic, and realistic.

Good luck!

11-30-2005, 12:11 PM
...And my current employer googled me before my interview. Be careful what you post online in blogs, etc. It could haunt you in a job interview.

Interesting. How would they know that anything they find online was you, or someone else with the same name?

If I google my name lots of stuff comes up for other Ken Wittlief's

Brandon Martus
11-30-2005, 12:48 PM
My buddy Bill from high school mentioned the company he worked for (Chimes, Inc. (http://www.chimesnet.com/), then just a small division of Computer Horizons Corp. (http://www.computerhorizons.com)) was expanding and hiring programmers; he knew I was a freshman in college in the computer science program, and knew what I could do (seeing some of the early Chief Delphi work, and other things I showed him in H.S.).

He set me up with an phone interview, and then a face-to-face. My (future) boss pretty much said "Bill says you're good, so .. what do you want to do? The software side of things, or hardware/networking side of things?" and that was the extent of my interview*.

I went through school full-time, whille working here part-time (50+hr weeks is part-time, right?). When I was in my last semester of school I was hired on full time and am here still 6 years later (now a Lead Application Developer).

Disclaimer: The interview/hiring process I went through was nothing like a what a normal situation is (I should know, writing software to ease the hiring process). Make sure you go into an interview prepared to talk about your past experience, schooling, how you see yourself fitting into the company, what you want to do, how much you want to make, etc. ;)

*We talked pay, hours, school, previous experience, etc., too, but after I was offered the job.

Mark Pierce
11-30-2005, 12:49 PM
I've had a whole variety of experiences getting jobs in the last 25 + years.

Part time programmer at Michigan Tech - referral from friend.
Summer Internship at Univac - co-op/internship fair at MTU
Honeywell (first full time engineering job) - MTU Career Center
Lear Siegler/Smith Industries Aerospace - Headhunter
Capital Electronics/Capital Technologies - cold phone call / resume
Oliver Machinery - continuation of work done through Capital Electronics.
Castle Technology (Self employed) - all of my customers were referrals from people I knew.
Diesel Technology/Bosch - answered newspaper ad
Gentex - Answered newspaper ad

Learning many things at each of these positions has enabled me to keep growing as a person and an engineer. While many respondents have mentioned long careers at one employer, the nature of their responsibilities and skills needed has undoubtedly changed dramatically over the years.

Three of these companies had rejected me within a year of hiring me, so making a good impression, remaining positive and being patient is important. Sometimes the timing has to be right for an employer to match your skills with their needs.

11-30-2005, 01:05 PM
Although I am only in my senior year i have a job at Delphi Automotive, Dont laugh. Getting jobs at large companies are inportant, reluctant for me i am not sure if i will have a college co-op thru Delphi. Although knowing the right people also is a great benefit. Being part of a Michigan team allows to be in a close knit community of many companies competting. Talk to your mentor and engineers on if they think they have any openings in there plants or factories. If they dont they might have friends that are Vice President of a Large company across state( for my case).

11-30-2005, 02:29 PM
You're making me think...

Alas it had been a long time, it looks as though I've had 7 jobs, and looking at the sources one was a headhunter, 2 were ads, and 4 were a result of having worked with someone in the organization before, so for me the most important has been who knows what I know.

Danny Diaz
11-30-2005, 02:45 PM
I got my first co-op with Georgia Tech Research Institute by applying for the position and submitting my resume. I was called in for an interview, and after about 15 minutes of asking me, "Do you understand what this code does?" showed me my office and asked me if I liked cream in my coffee in the mornings. :yikes:

My job recruitment out of college was a different story, though. I applied to many places, and submitted my resume. I was flown out to Florida for one interview and the interview person grilled me for a full hour on things I had put in my resume, and acted shocked that I actually had intelligent answers for what he was throwing at me. All he could do was sit there and ask me, "So how old *are* you?!?", alluding to the fact that I had worked on a LOT of really cool stuff for several years before finally getting out of school. An outstanding resume can be good, but too outstanding can make people skeptical.

When interviewing at National Instruments, campus recruiters who had gone to Georgia Tech and knew my reputation got me an almost automatic on-site interview in Austin, Texas. When I got to my on-site interview I went through the normal interview process and afterward was told I had my choice of placement (which group). So, it was who knew me that got my foot in the door, and what I knew that sealed the deal.

Be careful what you post online in blogs, etc. It could haunt you in a job interview.

Oh yeah. I heard a rumor about a guy who recently applied for a job at Microsoft, and about halfway through the day the HR rep googled his name and found some quite racy remarks he made about Mr. Gates several years before, and they then escorted him out of the building before the interviews were over. :eek:


Jeremy Roberts
11-30-2005, 04:24 PM
Shortly before graduating from Georgia Tech in '03 I began attending every campus job fair and sending out my resume through MonsterTrak. I ended up getting a few interviews through both these avenues however this is not how I ended up getting my first engineering job out of college. In addition to taking these conventional routes I contacted the members of the Peachtree Regional committee and board and several other FIRST engineers I was working with or had worked with in the past. The recommendations that I received allowed me several final interview opportunities without having to go through the entire process.

The offer that I accepted came as a result of a fellow regional board member recommending me to the former CEO of Mapics who sits on the board of directors of the company that I now work for (Qcept Technologies). They invited me for an interview which lasted about 3 hours including lunch. A few days later I received an offer. I found out about a year later that they had decided that they wanted me not long after the interview ended, but I guess they wanted to make me sweat :) .

So is it who you know, what you know, or who knows what you know? In my opinion it's all three. Who you know and who knows what you know gets you in the door and what you know keeps you there.

Richard Wallace
11-30-2005, 07:19 PM
I can't resist the urge to jump in here, because the previous two posters are from my alma mater, good old gatech.edu

Directly or indirectly, Georgia Tech got me every job I have held since 1977, starting as a ChE co-op at Olin Chemicals in Charleston, TN. After that I changed majors to EE, and got another co-op job at Hughes Aircraft in Fullerton, CA. After graduation I interviewed with a half-dozen companies that were recruiting at the Georgia Tech placement center, and took the offer from TRW Defense Systems, a Hughes competitor. A year later I was back on campus at Tech, recruited as a teaching and research assistant by one of my professors. That professsor (Dr. William E. Sayle, who subsequently served a long term as undergraduate director for ECE) introduced me to several of his colleagues in the power electronics research community. One of those (Dr. Richard Hoft) was instrumental in hiring me as a junior faculty member at the University of Missouri, after I completed the Ph.D. at Tech. That was 15 years ago.

Now I work for Emerson. I got this job because Emerson was sponsoring my research program and contacted me to ask if I was interested in joining a new business that they were creating in my technical area, which is electric machines and drives.

JVN told me recently that "it's not who you know or what you know, it's who knows what you know that gets you hired."

JVN is right.

Jeff Pahl
11-30-2005, 07:54 PM
Well, I got out of college at a bad time ('91) for engineers. My future wife graduated a couple weeks before me (different school), went home to Atlanta, and had a job 3 days later. I lost, and the country boy from Wisconsin moved to Atlanta. I then found out that getting an engineering job in Atlanta without having gone to Georgia Tech (nothing against Tech) in a tough economy was going to be really tough. Spent 28 months doing temp work, everything from warehouse work to office work to electronics assembler and technician. I also started taking night classes at Southern Polytechnic in Marietta just to keep my brain working. We had about given up, and were going to move somewhere else when our lease was up. At a office party for my wife's company, I started talking to the husband of one of her co-workers. He mentioned he was an engineer, and said to get him a resume. I did, and about 2 months later got a call. It had ended up on the desk of the only engineer at the company that had attended the same college (Rose-Hulman (http://www.rose-hulman.edu)) that I had. That alone made him curious enough to have me come in for an interview. Turned out we had had the same adviser for our senior projects. Anyway, two more rounds of interviews later, I had a job, and have been there building spaceflight hardware for 13 years now.

Who I knew (and networking outside of the normal "engineer network circles") got me the interview. What I knew, and how well I interviewed got me the job. What I have learned since then has kept me the job, etc. At the time I knew almost nothing about RF testing, and absolutely nothing about working in the space business, but they were willing to take a chance, mostly based on the school's reputation and my interview.

It's been a great ride, and I have been lucky to work on a lot of great projects, including Cassini, a couple of Mars missions, and a lot of stuff that's now orbiting Earth, both research and communications. However, I do have to say that working with FIRST is the most rewarding thing I do, and I'm thrilled that the company is becoming more and more supportive of FIRST each year.

-Jeff Pahl
Project Engineer
Test Development Group
Defense and Space Systems Division
EMS Technologies, Inc.

Matt Leese
11-30-2005, 08:20 PM
In many ways suprising to myself, I've never gotten a job through FIRST (although it almost got me an interview one time; Delphi never got around to calling me back after they said they wanted to interview me). My current job at Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems (I start full time on December 9) I got through the career fair.

About two years ago, when I was looking for a coop, I went to the Boeing booth towards the end of the career fair and talked to one of the recruiters. I gave my little spiel about my invovlement in FIRST and I was asked why I wanted to work for Boeing. My answer was simple: I always wanted to be an astronaut, never really got over it, and now I wanted to work on space craft. Apparently, despite the fact that the poster Boeing brings has a picture of the Space Shuttle on it, very few people know Boeing makes space craft. About six months later, at 9 PM, I got a phone call asking if I wanted to do a 7 month coop in Seal Beach, CA. After some thought (they only gave me two days), I accepted and dutifully traveled west. At the end of my coop, I was offered a full time position which I accepted.

I'm currently sitting in Long Beach, CA waiting to start work on December 9. I never realized everything that has to be done to move (even if you get lots of it taken care of by your company!).


Greg Perkins
11-30-2005, 09:26 PM
I'm going do delve into my current job (which hopefully will be my job for many years to come); my job came to me, actually I came to it...which came to me...if that makes any sense. I was on a "field trip" to this engineering firm in Manchester that (apparently from what I was told in class) make measurement systems...big deal, I figured I would go, and get credit for participation. We toured the facilities and we were informed about how keeping your product inexpensive will create better competition in the market, with yours ultimately being cheapest and selling the most of. Wow, still thinking to myself "big deal", until at the end of the tour John (my boss) said "we are looking to hire one of you to work here part-time while still in school doing CAD using the Inventor software" all of a sudden lights turned on and I was extremely intrigued. I rushed home from the office, immediately typed up my resume and sent it in within an hour from the end of the tour.
Sadly, I was giving up hope. After not hearing a word about the job for almost two weeks, I had assumed they had already made their choice, and I was not chosen. This all changed one day when I strolled into my lecture hall and expected to be given another lecture on the forces that are created with chain/sprockets; was I ever wrong, John was there and he was giving us materials for a class project we were going to jointly work on. After his lecture, he called out four names, luckily, I was one of those four names. He was setting up interviews and I readily eager to get mine out of the way, was the first to be interviewed.
The interview went phenomenal, I dressed up professionally, had a leather bound portfolio, an expensive pen set, multiple copies of my resume, and some samples of my Inventor work. I was not nervous at all, pitched my pitch without hesitation, and all in the back of my head was still hoping someone did not pitch a better one than me.
Two days later.......I got the call, not the dreadful one, but the best phone call I have received to date, John said that they were comfortable with my previous training in school with CAD and that training would be unnecessary.

So all in all, I got the job I wanted, doing ridiculously cool stuff and having the best co-workers in the world (a nice paycheck is nice too :)).

Click here for more information about my company. (www.acu-gage.com)

Jay TenBrink
11-30-2005, 10:00 PM
While at Michigan State University I was in SAE. During my senior year in 1982-83 I was the student chapter president. Chrysler held a recruiting dinner for all of the officers of the engineering organizations on campus. I interviewed on campus and also at Chrysler Engineering in Highland Park, MI. No job offers followed.

For the next 6 months I sent out over 60 resumeís and had many interviews on campus with no offers. On a whim, I contacted the Chrysler recruiter I had dealt with 6 months earlier. From that follow-up contact came 3 interviews and 3 job offers. I have been with Chrysler/DaimlerChrysler ever since. Over the past 22 years I have held a number of different positions in design, development, manufacturing, operations, and engineering management. Itís been pretty good.

What does this mean?
1) My MSU experience in SAE was very similar to FIRST: organize, raise funds, design, build, test, compete, promote, network, and manage our time. I would not have gotten my job without it.
2) Donít give up. Hard work and persistence goes a long way, even if you do have good contacts.


11-30-2005, 11:17 PM
Hmm I went through a typical job prcoess pretty much.

My first job was a CO-OP at GE Appliances, KY via College Career Fair for the Summer of my Senior Year at RPI.

I had an offer to return to GE Appliance,KY and GE Aircraft Engines TLP, MA. Program but decided to take a job in the Automotive Industry working for ITT Automotive/Valeo in Rochester, NY for 3 years.

My Current job was through a head hunter that called me and asked if I was interested in an opportunity at Xerox and I've been here for the last 6 years.

One lesson I've always remind peple is "Don't let location be the factor to hold your opportunities back." I always tell people I interview all colleges to keep that in mind.


Andy Baker
12-01-2005, 07:51 AM
While a sophmore at the University of Evansville, I landed a great co-op job with GE Plastics. An HR manager from GE hired about 6 engineers from my school and we all worked there until we graduated. Getting that co-op job was easy, as I prepared a resume and showed up for the interview. Little did I know it would be nothing like landing a full-time position.

My senior year was 1991, and as Jeff Pahl mentioned above, it was a terrible time to find engineering jobs. GE had 25 co-ops graduating and they only offered positions to 3 (this is not normal). Corporate recruiters would come to campus, have 30-40 candidates for jobs with only 1 opening. Many of us sent countless resumes out. I think I sent out over 100, even 20-30 to Australia. (I did get one letter back from Down Under, insulting me for not knowing that they were even in a deeper recession than the US was at the time).

While times were not good, the placement office at UE still wanted to help and made a good suggestion: they gave me an alumni directory and told me to call alumni who work in positions similar to my degree. So, I took this book of names, occupations, and contact information and started highlighting people to call. After many, many days of calling suprised UE grads, I finally found a guy who had an opening in his department here at Delphi (Delco Electronics at the time). My boldness and good timing got me the opportunity to get an interview, while my co-op experience at GE combined with decent grades at UE helped me to land the job. I interviewed with 3 engineering managers, 2 fellow engineers, and even 2 UAW skilled tradesman (how I get along with these guys depend on how well I do my job). The guy I originally called still works in the same department, 14 years later, as do I.

Good thread, John.

Andy B.

12-01-2005, 09:02 AM
Being excited about whatever you are trying to take on, being organized, willing to learn & take risks, and serendipity. Who you know always matters because the more people you know, the more opportunities come. Recommended reading: The Tipping Point.

Warning: life for me is often a winding path, but I have been blessed.
For 2 of these jobs, I was the first female ever hired and got to experience being "the test case." It taught me tenacity.

High school newspaper editor =>majored in journalism program in college (applied) =>internship at CBS News (applied) =>made me question a lot about school =>unhappy with college/life/took leave=>weekend hike in the White Mts in NH=> job washing dishes at Appalachian Mt. Club (one of the best jobs breaks I ever had)(recruited)=> manager at Appalachian Mountain Club (recruited)=> hired at Mount Washington Observatory(applied) =>hired as NH Park Ranger(applied) => US Forest Service Ranger (applied) (all these required training as EMT for Mountain Search & Rescue)=>decided to go to nursing school (applied)=>National Health Service Corps and Commissioned Officer in Public Health Service (branch of military (recruited))=> stationed on various Native American Indian Reservations (went where they told me to)=>interest in public health=>honorable discharge=>graduate degree at Johns Hopkins in Public Health (applied/recruited)=>many years as research coordinator at Hopkins & Agency for International Development(first job applied, all the rest I was recruited) (during this time got married, had kids) =>took part-time school nurse job (applied) to spend more time with kids, & did consulting=>went to a school fundraiser as a taste tester and discovered I have the ability to describe tastes=>descriptive panelist for McCormick (recruited, just retired this month). Back to kids: son #1 joined FIRST team=>overly involved in FIRST=>Senior Mentor gig (recommended/applied)=>having a thousand more people in my life and Iíll bet that one of those people will help me move on to the next job when the time is right.

Peter Matteson
12-01-2005, 03:19 PM
My co-op at Pratt & Whitney was through WPI's career development center. I interviewed and didn't really have a clue what I was doing then.

The next summer I got my job at Eaton's Naval Controls Division through a career fair on campus talking to the Eaton rep who set me up for an interview.

The summer after that my cousin had started working at International Fuel Cells and said I should send in my resume for an internship. I interviewed and they brought me in for the summer.

I went back to school for one more quarter that fall of 2001. I graduated that October after 9/11 and when I started interviewing I used the "shotgun method" take as many interview as I could and hoped one worked out because no one knew if they could hire because the economy was in the toilet, but they still wanted to interview just in case. I ended up having 5 job offers to mull over by the first week of December. 3 were defense contractors hiring on speculation one is a commercial sponser of FIRST and the job I ended up taking at International Fuel Cells which has since changed its name to UTC Fuel Cells.

To speed up getting an interview I called the connections made during my internship at IFC because I had a limited time on the other offers and I knew that this was the environment I wanted to work in. They brought me in, interviewed me and then a couple weeks later gave me an offer in a different department. I took the job and have now been here full time for 4 years.


12-01-2005, 08:11 PM
[Uh oh - another one of my long-winded rambles down memory lane ahead. If you want the short answer, skip to the bottom, but you'll miss what I think is a rather unusual story]

I got my current job despite having absolutely no intention of taking it. Did someone say "huh?" A little background: as I described in another thread (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40207) I had a good job but the company was downsizing, so I thought it prudent to refresh my interviewing skills and see what jobs were out there "just in case". Since they were trying to shed employees, my employer set up an online bulletin board for other companies to post openings on. I saw one for a startup company in Princeton, NJ, which sounded intriguing, but there was no way I was going to work in central NJ!

At the time I was living in PA (near Newark, DE), almost two hours from Princeton, and liked where we were. Besides, NJ is outrageously expensive to live in, the traffic is awful, etc. Still, since I needed practice, I went ahead and called them and eventually got a phone interview, which led to an invitation to come see them.

The head guy I was interviewing with (Greg Kirk, PhD in physics, brilliant and way too much energy - imagine Kressly with an IQ of 180) put me in a project meeting where they were brainstorming a problem they were battling. I dove right in an we had a great hour-long discussion where I was able to offer some insights. I also scored points later when, while I was waiting to talk to another scientist, I helped a biologist troubleshoot a piece of recalcitrant lab equipment. It helped a lot that I had done my due dilligence on the company beforehand so I could ask good questions.

By the end of the day I had interviewed with probably half of the company (this was a startup, remember) and was facinated by the challenges they were facing. On my drive home I knew I had a big problem - this job was just the kind of change I needed, and I was pretty sure they would make me an offer, but it was in New Jersey! I spent the time waiting for their call checking on housing prices and neighborhoods in the area - realizing that the position paid just enough more than my then-current salary to almost make up the difference in cost of living.

Sure enough, they did offer me the job. I made one last stab at getting my soon-to-be-former employer to transfer me from the engineering group which was downsizing to the science group I was supporting, but when that fell through I took the plunge. I went from being a minor player at a major multinational corporation to the 24th person hired by my new employer!

That was 12 years ago, and I've had a great ride at Pharmacopeia. And I never did move to NJ, opting instead for the long commute from Upper Black Eddy. Besides being a great career move, moving to upper Bucks County put us in the Palisades school district which happens to have a pretty good high school robotics team...

So, that was the long answer to your question, John. The short answer is:

I did my homework (researched the company and their key technology before the interview);
I asked a lot of questions;
I took interest in their problems;
I was in the right place at the right time; and
I took a chance.

12-02-2005, 05:27 AM
I did my homework (researched the company and their key technology before the interview). That's very important for most job interviews. When I was interviewing for my present job (maintaining a college web site) I went through each and every page of the web site that was current at the time of my interview. I came to the interview with a laundry list of typos, suggestions for improvements, questions about why things were designed the way they were, etc. Unbeknownst to me they were in the middle of a website redesign project and were already implementing many of the things I had pointed out. You should always do your homework before an interview.

Pat Chen
12-02-2005, 07:04 PM
Interesting. How would they know that anything they find online was you, or someone else with the same name?

If I google my name lots of stuff comes up for other Ken Wittlief's

Many people may have the same names.....but quite often ....when people post....they may include information like where they live.....this is one way ...potential employer may know that you are that person....but as Kathie K wrote.....just be careful of what you post....especially the younger members of our FIRST community.

Pat Chen

12-03-2005, 05:54 AM
They not only googled me and knew that I was involved in K9 Search and Rescue (I was volunteering for my husband's organization and was their webmaster at the time), they knew lots of other things about me as well which they mentioned at the interview. Of course, to be fair, I googled them, too, before the interview. :) As I've pointed out before, if someone were applying for a job and was googled, their postings here on CD might come up. A quick look could see that many of the CD members have personal accounts elsewhere, because they mention it in their signature files or in their profile. I can see what they look like because they post photos. In some cases, within minutes I can get a fair amount of information on a person. Just something to be aware of, that's all.

Chris Fultz
12-03-2005, 11:28 PM
I was a co-op student and working a Spring and Fall session. There were not enough classes avialable for a full summer session schedule of classes, so I was looking for summer work (summer 1982).

There was a job posting in the career office at IUPUI, for a contract position as an engineering assistant. I applied and got the job and worked the summer at Allison Gas Turbine (GM Division) working with computer models of turbine airflow. I returned to my co-op company in the fall, and then graduated about 15 months later (December 1983).

When I graduated, I was not happy with the offer from my co-op company, so I called the contract engineering firm to see what they had. They had another position at Allison, I interviewed, and got the job. Working as a contact employee was not ideal (no benefits, no committments), but that was not a good time for technical jobs in Indy - many of my friends were having to relocate to get decent jobs - so I said yes.

The contract position I had was converted to a full time job and offered to me in March 1984, about three months after I had started. I became a Reliability Engineer for Allison Gas Turbine. Allison was later sold twice and is now part of Rolls-Royce. 21 years later, I am still with Rolls-Royce and have been able to move around through several very exciting, interesting and challenging positions.


Something important to pass on to high school and college students. My contract positions were not ideal jobs, but they helped me establish a reputation. When other, better positions opened up, I was a good candidate partly because I was known by some of the managers and because they knew I would do what I was assigned to. Soem experience in a good company, even if it is an unpaid internship, is a great way to establish yourself.

Remember, you are always being watched and evaluated, and if you cannot complete relatively simple tasks, why would anyone assign you something more challenging??

Erin Rapacki
12-15-2005, 09:26 PM
Believe it or not Ms. Erin Rapacki plays a role in getting me a job.

Awww, thanks for giving me some credit Dubes! I'm happy to hear that I had a little positive impact on somebody's life. :)

I haven't obtained a full-time position yet, but next year I'll be working as a manufacturing engineer at Gillette (no, I cannot get you a free razor). Co-op has allowed me to pad my resume with four 6-month experiences in:

- Project Engineering (Military Engines/NASA)
- Test Technician (DEKA iBot)
- Supply Chain & Supplier Capacity (Pratt & Whitney)
- Manufacturing (Gillette)

Therefore, I'd highly recommend any school that offers an internship/co-op program. However, the project engineering jobs were obtained through my FIRST network.

12-15-2005, 10:18 PM
I haven't obtained a full-time position yet, but next year I'll be working as a manufacturing engineer at Gillette (no, I cannot get you a free razor).

Gee, I thought the idea was to give away the razors and make money on the blades. ;)

My most recent employer was Bethel Camp for the Arts, which is a bit of a misnomer, as it's got a pretty wide spread of programs (everything from culinary arts to golf to tennis to robotics). I found out about the camp (which is in the tiny little ski town of Bethel, Maine) here on ChiefDelphi, actually.

Much of my remaining job experience has paid little or nothing, actually. I spent all four years of high school working with AFJROTC, where I progressed up to deputy group commander (#2 in the corps). Every position I gained in the corps was pretty much a direct result of experience and working with the instructors.

It really does come down to who knows what you know.

Erin Rapacki
12-15-2005, 10:29 PM
I found out about the camp (which is in the tiny little ski town of Bethel, Maine) here on ChiefDelphi, actually.

Funny, I drive up to Bethel Maine almost every other weekend (NU has a cabin on the Rt. 2 Maine/NH state line, and I go often). Small World!

12-16-2005, 09:58 AM
Sea World of Ohio - Filled out Application

Geauga Lake Park - Filled out Application

CNC Programmer for PCC Airfoils - Father knew a guy and got my name in the door. Learned alot, great job.

Contact Unigraphics Designer, at GM - in 97 I graduated undergrad at UofM, and used the on campus interviews. I had 3 offers, and selected the lowest paying offer. I thought it would be the most fun. Money isn't everything.

Direct hire at GM, doing the same - They just asked so I said yes.

Got bored, when back to school for my masters at U of Mich (in mechanical engineering.)

Odd jobs on campus for the collage. Helped out with CNC and CAD classes, giving campus tours.

Wanted a summer job away from campus, interviewed on campus with many, Ford/Visteon asked me to join. Worked in Climate.

Graduated. Visteon asked me to come back, so I did. Put me in a rotation program allowing me to rotate. Been rotating around Visteon for 6 years.

Worked in Climate Controls making pretty plastics.
Worked in Advance Engineering having alot of fun, working on crazy / cool projects.
Worked as a process engineer for injection molding
Working in Climate Controls making pretty plastics, again (but with more skills.)

Get in early, do a good job... they might ask you back. PCC Airfoils asked for me to come back, as did Visteon.

12-16-2005, 10:53 AM
Someone pointed out I haven't bothered to reply to my own thread yet.

I got my current job because a buddy of mine helped me out.
Basically, IFI was recruiting a good friend of mine to move to Texas and take a full-time job. He was unable to accept the job, but told them: "If you're willing to try out a young guy, I've got someone perfect for you."

From there, they began asking people in the FIRST community about me. Enough people told them: "He's not a complete idiot" that they recruited me for a summer-coop (IFI uses this as a gruelling 3-month interview).

At the end of that coop, they made me a full-time offer, and I accepted (it was a good fit). Been here 7 months, and still having fun. :)

A combination of who I knew, what I knew, who knew what I knew, and dumb luck. I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right skills, and knew the right people. Woo.

So yeah, a little luck helps sometimes too. ;)

I definitely owe that good friend.

12-16-2005, 11:22 AM
At my first interview for my first post-college job, it came out that I was really good friends with the interviewers college roommate!

I'm currently teaching at RIT, which fell in my lap when the department needed an adjunct to fill in a maternity leave and a former professor knew I was looking for a job and recommended me. Since starting last year as adjunct, I've now morphed into a grad student with the morph into full time faculty on the horizon.

02-08-2006, 08:34 AM
My school posts jobs that are hiring. or i got to random places and apply. hats what good about Chicago because they have a million place for everyone to work at :rolleyes:


dubious elise
02-08-2006, 09:32 AM
Well, mine is no permanent job or lifelong career by any means, but I got my job just by doing waaaay too much of what I love - playing tennis. Since I've played at this club for about 8 years, they figured that I had plenty of experience to pass on to the up and coming students.

It's really not a bad deal to be a tennis instructor and, since the racquet club is part of an athletic club, the club gives me full membership privileges with a good number of discounts to boot.

02-09-2006, 08:27 AM
As an old man, let me chime in with lessons in life:

1) Job networking is a CONSTANT thing. You can't just network when you're looking for your "first" job (no pun intended) and you can't just do networking when you're in-between jobs (e.g. laid-off). It's a constant part of life, and it's not bragging, just sharing info on what you do. Be sure to ask the other person what he/she does as well....

2) You will indeed have more than one job in your career life. So, plan for it. There's not much left in the realm of a 30-40 year one-job career path. Therefore, be prepared to be booted-out of a job/company (fired, laid-off, bankrupt yourself, etc). It may not actually happen, but you have to have a game plan if it does ever happen. Grab your 401K savings, and move on to the next job.

3) The game of careers and job-hopping won't happen instantly. So, be sure to take time in-between jobs to "smell the roses". If you're young, go travel the world! If you've got family, enjoy time with them....

Most importantly, make sure that your paper resume really tells HOW you did a job, not WHAT you did. be sure EVERY line-item has quantifiable results and is written clearly.

And, throughout life, be gracious.......

02-09-2006, 04:16 PM
Nice to see you young folks working!
Experience is what you need to land a perfect career when you graduate from college. To answer the original posters question, it's who you know, and what you know. I started my career basically on my own, with three teenagers, I needed to make a fast career decision. Art runs in my blood, so this is where I began putting my career together.
But what I do confuses most people, they expect to see canvases of my work displayed in an open arena. I've seen to many artists hang on for years without getting noticed, so i did it a better way. I found a way of printing my work on popular products in order to recieve the appreciation I deserve. Instaead of waiting years for it. Plus I work for myself, I don't have a boss looking over me.
I wish you success in your career finding adventures, but may I make a suggestion? do what you love or you'll regret it.

02-09-2006, 04:25 PM
I was referred to someone here at the office by 488's lead mentor after my, uh, dedication to finishing our robot last year made me lose the crappy, interim job I'd taken over the holidays. It was in every way a blessing. I've moved around a bit in the company since, all as a result of making a good impression on the people I meet and work with here. Even when I was among many hundreds of people laid off last fall, my supervisors and their directors were looking out for me and found me another position in the company.

Developing process for new products is interesting and I've had to learn a lot about the different parts of our company and how they function (or don't function, as it were) which only makes me more valuable as a rare resource that knows what both the left and right hands are doing -- sometimes even at the same time.

02-09-2006, 06:23 PM
We got to pick what jobs we wanted and if there was too many on one particular team they got dispersed among the other teams. If you were particularly skilled in one area you got to stay. As a 3 yr veteran I know were my spot is.

02-11-2006, 11:39 AM
We got to pick what jobs we wanted and if there was too many on one particular team they got dispersed among the other teams. If you were particularly skilled in one area you got to stay. As a 3 yr veteran I know were my spot is.

Wow. I think this person did not ever read any of the thread...

02-18-2006, 02:07 PM
yes if any one else can tell me how you got your job and what you do please and thank you