7 Ways to Get an Engineering Job with No Experience

how to get an engineering job with no experience

“Entry-level position! *Requires 3 years of relevant industry experience*” is probably the most infuriating thing a recent grad can see. Many students, despite their best efforts, find themselves graduating with no internship or co-op experience, and are finding it difficult to secure a job after graduation. The pandemic didn’t help, seeing as many companies stopped hiring interns or even retracted offers. So how are you supposed to get experience when every job requires experience?

Unfortunately, there’s no one set answer to this question. But here are some ideas that are hopefully more helpful than the typical “make sure your resume is in good shape”, because I’m sure you didn’t think of that, right?

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  1. Pivot your resume
  2. Create a portfolio
  3. Apply to larger companies
  4. Apply to alternative entry-level positions
  5. Go through a contracting agency
  6. Apply to internships that accept graduates
  7. Apply for grad school

1. Pivot your resume

Employers like to see internships on resumes because it shows hands-on experience. If you don’t have internship experience, include projects you’ve done for classes on your resume. Go into detail on what the project was and what you specifically did for it. Write about it as if the project was something a company gave you as an intern project.  

2. Create a portfolio

Creating a portfolio is a great way to stand out. Take any class projects, personal projects, or research you did in undergrad and turn it into a portfolio. Include pictures, what you did for the projects, and any learnings you took away from it. Keep the portfolio short and to the point. Portfolios are typically created in word, but doing them in PowerPoint can be a great way to keep it organized and to the point.

On most applications, there’s a section to include any additional documents. Submit it there. Going the extra mile to create and submit a portfolio will be very impressive to employers.

3. Apply to larger companies

The problem with applying to smaller companies or start-ups is that they have a much smaller budget. Having the budget to hire someone is a big deal and they can’t afford to take a risk on someone. They also usually don’t have the time or resources to train brand-new engineers. Start-ups tend to need someone who can just jump into the role and not need much guidance.

Larger companies have ample hiring budgets. They can afford to hire engineers and take the time to train them from the ground-up.

4. Apply to alternative entry-level positions

If you’re really struggling to find an engineering job, you can try applying to another engineering-related entry-level position. Look for the job titles of field service engineer, technician, and drafter in your job search. These are often less competitive to get, but still look impressive on a resume.

It may not be the ideal job, but it’s very common for new grads to use these jobs as stepping stones. They do the job for a year or so before getting promoted to an engineer at the company they’re at, or switching to another company as an engineer.

As long as you’re proactive about switching to an engineering role after a year or two, this is a great option for new engineers.

For more information on the alternative entry-level positions, check out 3 Alternative Entry-Level Jobs for Engineers.

5. Go through a contracting agency

Many engineers start their careers as contractors. Contractors are engineers that are hired from contracting agencies to join the company for a designated amount of time, typically a few months. They are usually hired when teams need extra help for a specific project, but don’t expect to need a full-time employee.

Contracting is a great option because contractors are often converted to full-time employees after their contract is up. It is also a great way to try different companies/industries. If you don’t like a specific company or industry, you can just leave after a few months with no hard feelings. It also looks great on resumes because you are doing real engineering work.

The major down-side of contracting is that the company is typically not required to provide any benefits. As a contractor, you probably won’t receive a 401k, insurance, or any other benefits a full-time employee would have.

6. Apply to internships that accept graduates

Internships for graduates are definitely harder to find than internships for undergrads, but they exist. Look for job postings that don’t mention having to be enrolled in an undergraduate program. Also, look for smaller companies. They are less likely to have strict requirements.

For more information on getting internships after graduation, read Can you Get an Internship After College? Yes. And Here’s How.

7. Apply for grad school

Applying for grad school might be a good option for you for two reasons. First, if you have any desire to go to grad school, it’s worth at least applying. Getting a masters will give you more time to complete an internship. It will also make you more appealing to employers. Many companies consider years of industry experience equal to years of graduate school experience, whereas that doesn’t apply for undergrad.

Applying for grad school can also be beneficial if you don’t necessarily want to go or are unsure. Many engineering companies require you to be currently enrolled in a program, but will accept an offer letter showing acceptance to a graduate school. Lots of students do internships between undergrad and graduate school and decide during the summer they like working industry and chose to stay rather than attend graduate school.

Getting into graduate school does take time, work, and money so it might not be the best option for some people. It’s at least worth thinking about, though.

Conclusion

Not all students find internships in college, and that’s okay. No matter what, engineering is still a very valuable degree and you WILL get a job. Hopefully, these tips will help you secure a job in engineering.


Read More

What to Wear to an Engineering Internship Interview

3 Alternative Entry-Level Jobs for Engineers

Can you get an Internship After College? Yes. And Here’s How.