Using Chief Delphi as a Networking Tool

What advice would you offer to an upcoming college grad who is looking for his first job and hasn’t had any luck with the standard job search process?

Which networking tools have you used to find a job or find someone you want to hire?

How can the FIRST experience be used as a launching pad to career success?

I think these are legitimate questions and would seem to fit in the Career category.

Now I’m sure there is more to the story on why this thread http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69570 was closed so soon after opening, so that is not my concern.

But I think the questions that RobotCollegeGuy was asking were good ones, so I’m surprised that we weren’t given more of an opportunity to share our tips and advice.

In the age of Monster.com and LinkedIn.com and many many more, which of the career building tools do you recommend? Or are the old fashioned methods still the best way?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I use linked-in, keep an updated resume with links posted on personal webspace and in a word doc I can send out, and maintain my online teaching application at pareap.net on a semi-regular basis. I’m sure other professions (engineering, etc) have similar online systems. Not that I’m looking for another job at all right now, but I always try to keep information at these places current as well as maintain letters of reference from others just in case they are needed.

Networking, in general, however is a much more personal thing in my opinion. You need to build credibility and relationships - which are only partially achievable electronically. “Involvement” in FIRST won’t necessarily get you very far by itself. The involvement needs to be meaningful and you need to develop tangible skill sets along with the relationships. FIRST certainly attracts a LOT of high quality people and getting involved is a piece of the pie, but just like with any professional experience - you need to come out the other side with solid recommendations and skills. In addition to FIRST you need the corresponding credentials that any profession would otherwise expect. Then, and only then in my opinion, will quality FIRST experience separate you from other candidates in a given field.

For those just starting out, remember two things:

  1. You will get turned down many, many more times for jobs/internships than you will be successful. Over the years I estimate that the ratio for me is something like 60:1 (rejection:acceptance). I used to keep a drawer filled with rejection letters for motivation to keep going, but discarded them all two moves ago. If you haven’t seen Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture and his discussion of “brick walls” and why they exist, I suggest that you do so - now.
  2. For a first job - take one - any one. Start making money and building relationships and a reputation as a “can-do” team player. It doesn’t matter if the pay stinks (at first) and it’s an unrelated field. Initiative and perseverance are two skills that you need to be able to sharpen and demonstrate in today’s world. Once you have something, then you search from there a little more selectively.

I use my school’s career center a lot (at least this year). They have a large network that any student at the school can use. Many colleges have one, so it can help to start there.

Now, if that doesn’t work, you pretty much need to start by hitting the job search engines and classified ads. Job fairs are also an option.

For me, traditional methods work best, at least so far.

One other thing: You can’t be afraid to find a company you’d like to work for and apply online (or in person) for a position.

[spoiler=]
I would assume that the reason the other thread was closed is because of an anonymous account. This is a bad mistake to make when looking for a job. Most companies won’t let you past the first sign-in page without at least your name and contact information. Or, show up to an interview and say, “My name isn’t important.” I would expect that the next question would be, “What can we call you?” if it wasn’t, “This job isn’t important to you either.”[/spoiler]

Coming out of College cold and getting a job with no prior experience can be very very difficult.

That’s why I suggest to every one of our team members that they do a co-op, intern, or even simply a summer job with a company. Even if you have to work for peanuts, this is the singularly best way to get your foot in the door with a company. Once they know you are a good worker, it opens opportunities for hiring.

Even if they don’t hire you, being able to use them as a reference is key as well. Employers simply do not have the time (or money) to take on college kids and polish them for a year or two before they become truly useful. And it WILL take that long before you integrate into learning the processes of where-ever you go to work to become truly effective.

Of course, getting your name out there on monster, linked, and all the other sites is not a bad thing. Be aware (and I wish more folks WERE aware of this fact) that future employers will probably do an internet search on you, and a background check. That’s why it’s a very poor idea to have myspace or facebook pages up with your actual name on them. See the current Republican vice-presidential candidate’s daughter’s boyfriend for the perfect example…

Finally, cold-calling the HR department and dropping off resumes is not a bad idea either. I know Ford keeps those resumes in a file and looks at them when they have a position to fill. It took me over a year to get an interview with them after giving them a resume.

If you can’t get a job in the exact company you want, find out who their suppliers are (machine tool and otherwise) and get a job there. Those smaller job-shops are often much easier to get a foot in the door because of higher turn-over and once you know the business it will be much easier to get noticed at the company you really want to work at.

In the end, the best bet is to work out a strategy. Where do I want to work. Failing that, what other places will give me experience so that in 5 years I can go get a job where I want to work. Do not go in expecting to get a job and retire in 30 years either. It’s pretty rare that anyone will go 30 years without changing jobs a couple times, and you need to think about what you’ll do in that situation.

I don’t know if I would take a job doing anything, but definately consider widening your scope of what you would like to do. For example, in programing there are positions as testers, which usually fall under quality control, which could lead to a career as a QC manager. There are also manufacturing engineers as well as design engineers. I’d say keep looking in newspapers and magazines as well as online. Craigslist has become popular for finding help. Some students who are unable to locate a job out of college decide to continue in graduate school. I also recommend Randy Pausch’s lecture.

I’m a trained Electronics Engineer with a Computer Science degree working as a Manufacturing Engineer for a Pneumatics company.

Don’t let what you think you can do get in the way of what you can do.

Understand what you know, understand what the prospective employer wants, promote your strengths, be honest and expect a lot of rejections along the way. Also remember to send a thank you note for each interview.

Oh, and I second watching Randy Pauch’s “Last Lecture”.

Every single one of my co-ops (I did them at 3 companies), as well as my job now came as a result of a contact either with one of the mentors of my high school team, or from someone I already knew, who thought that FIRST was a great thing.

Realize that you need to make a good impression in every thing you do. Just being on a FIRST team may not be enough, you should work hard and show initiative. Those are the things that will make someone who knows you want to recommend you for a job. That is true whether you did FIRST or not.

I’ve just signed up for LinkedIn recently, but for no particular reason.

I did some contract work for a company that found me through discussions here on Chief Delphi. They were searching for information about certain technologies and found some of our discussions.

I’ve received one other job, completely unrelated to engineering, through networking that started with another FIRST mentor, also.

Networking is a thing that creeps slowly as you work well, but falls apart fast when you do poorly. My involvement in FIRST led eventually to me working at a regional level, and getting introductions to people in business from our regional director. Getting in the door is the hardest part of finding a job, at least in my experience, and those introductions created some amazing opportunities. It is great to have some choices.

That said, having moved to London from Virginia, there is a limit to how useful those introductions are. :rolleyes: Stick me in the pile of “upcoming college grad who is looking for his first job and hasn’t had any luck with the standard job search process”

Wetzel
Still looking. :cool:

Any news on BeyondFIRST.org which is featured on the FIRST website?
http://www.usfirst.org/who/content.aspx?id=972

When I was a senior, an offer I had was withdrawn about 2 weeks before graduation. I quickly talked to some of my professors about possible work and got a job as a 1/2 technician, 1/2 time research assistant doing grad student-type work. It paid about 1/2 of what industry paid, but it was a fabulous lower-pressure learning experience; in a tight economy, I was better off than my unemployed classmates.

Being willing to work for less money opens up more options and makes easier to “earn your keep.”

In the long run, connections come indirectly from pouring yourself into what you love to do and do well, and they can’t be generated overnight when you suddenly need them. While there’s nothing wrong with putting the word out when you’re looking for a job and hoping that what you have to offer connects to the right need, nobody likes being used by a job seeker who hasn’t demonstrated real ability and effort.

It could be a part of the DNS issues that recently started popping up, but it appears the site is down, though still partially pingable.
Are there any behind-the-scenes people on that project who can fill us in?

I’ve really got to disagree with point #2 there. The first job you take after graduation (I’m meaning college graduation here) will have a very strong influence on the remainder of your career. It can be very difficult to “hop” from one industry to another once you take that first job. Many of us get married soon after graduation, followed by starting families, etc. Your geographic mobility will drop sharply at that point, which can drastically narrow your options.

Unless you are literally facing starvation, make the most of the flexibility you have early on. Don’t just take the first job that lands in your lap unless it somehow fits into your Master Plan for Dominating the Universe.

Also, the 60:1 ratio seems a bit high, at least compared to my own experience and that of my immediate peers. Maybe I just “pre-screened” myself and only sought positions which I knew were a good fit. YMMV…

I love how, despite this post, there are only 3 threads in the Career subforum.

There are 7 pages of threads in that subforum. All the ones on the first page date from after mid-March.

And yes, some of those are job postings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some interesting facts about how many jobs Americans typically hold in certain age ranges. Their last release showed that the late baby boomers on average held 10.8 jobs from age 18 to age 42. The job duration increases from an average of one year just after college age to 5 years by age 35. I would also imagine that the next study will show the average number of jobs has increased and the duration decreased as I have the impression that the Gen X’ers and younger are more likely to change jobs than my generation was/ is.

The mobility just after college would seem to indicate that for the first few years after college, many do exactly what Rich suggests, get a starter job and build from there. If you are able to get a job that fits in your master plan, all the better. But having a job, any job, can be a stepping stone to another job. If you do well, you will garner recommendations, and there is a confidence in applying for a job when you already have the fall back in place.

I believe that persistence and networking are both keys to finding the job to appply for. But there has to be a skill in selling yourself, to win the job. And there must be some factor of being in the right place at the right time.

a few comments:

I got my first ‘pro’ job back during the severe financial recession of the early 1980’s. It was extremely tough and had a ‘ratio’ of about 250:1 if gauged by what I wanted versus what I could get.

In all honesty I did turn down about 3 or 4 offers in areas that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. So maybe the 60:1 number is about right.

Be persistant, work on networking and relationships.

For your 1st job be willing to relocate a long way from home.

Work on a project while you are searching for a job. Before the days of the internet and instant information availability, I sat in a little tiny town in the middle of nowhere and taught myself RF Receiver Design (that is what I wanted to do). That was a very difficult task.

After 10 months of looking via the usual methods I jumped in the car and starting driving to my potential targets. The closest one was 420 miles away. Walked in, handed them my info, and got an instant interview at 4:30 pm and left at 7:30 pm. (they made an offer in the mail the next day)

The next day I went to another firm and got thrown out on my ear.

Driving 420 miles and walking in in a suit sufficiently impressed them plus the fact that I mentioned that I had been working on a project that aligned with THEIR NEEDS.

The interview started with the usual new graduate questions - strengths, weaknesses, etc, etc, blah, blah. Pointing to a briefcase, I mentioned my design project, self taught, living in rural isolation. That is what they are looking for. Self motivation on a project that ALIGNS with their needs.

Imagine that - I was a mediocre college student with mediocre grades that started working for a world class company doing first class aerospace advanced design work. If I can do it, you can do it too !!!

But you have to move away from the usual dribble blah blah of the interview process that causes you to blend in with a sea of suits.

Artists have things called portfolios. Every engineering student should have a portfolio. The first items in the portfolio should be the high school FIRST projects. Then add items as you go through the university culminating with your senior design project. You can also add research assistantships and so on. A project doesn’t have to be iron hardware. It could be a mathematical analysis, simulation, design project.

My portfolio completely banished all the usual and traditional metrics of hiring to the trash heap. All the traditional objections (like grades) for setting aside my application were forgotten because my portfolio aligned with my employers needs.

FIRST is a great launching pad for starting your portfolio - Take advantage of FIRST and the opportunities to start your portfolio today !!

Work hard, live hard, have fun.

( water game anyone ? <grin> ? )

Well, I got a job.

I would like to pat myself on the back for being awesome. pat

Thanks for closing the other thread gestapo.

Well, actually…
I’ve been thinking about these 2 threads for a few days and I’ve mulled over the networking tool and kind of turned it into a job board. I’m aware of LinkedIn, etc., but I’m also wondering about just an old-fashioned job board here in CD, perhaps the Career section - maybe develop a way to respect privacy but still put the word out for potential employers and employees. That’s probably along the lines of opening a can of worms, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about as the news continues to inform us about the current financial situation nationally and globally.


Congratulations on your job, RobotCollegeGuy.

Congrats to you! Out of curiosity, did it come from networking on CD, or some other avenue?