Students should use their summers to gain practical, real world engineering experience. First-year students may want to pursue NSF REU opportunities or study abroad experiences. Students should obtain an internship after their sophomore and junior years. All of these help students be more competitive for permanent employment upon graduation.
Many engineering companies have a paid summer internship program designed to help students gain experience in their industry. Students should secure an internship for the summers after their sophomore year and their junior year if they want to be competitive for full-time jobs upon graduation. A few internship opportunities may be open to freshman with strong academic records.
The hiring cycle for internships starts in September. Attending an engineering career fair is the primary way to apply for an internship, although some companies may utilize over venues. Campbell students can attend both regional and national engineering career fairs each fall. Students should participate in professional development training on campus to ensure that they have a competitive resume, polished networking skills, and understand how to successfully navigate an engineering career fair. Interviews for summer internships take place in mid-fall semester, with offers usually extended in the October – January timeframe. A limited number of internship opportunities may be available from individual companies during the spring semester, as well.
Engineering drives our national economy and maintains our competitive edge. 50-80% of job growth in the U.S. is dependent on scientists and engineers, but we don’t produce enough engineering graduates to meet workforce needs. Not surprisingly, the unemployment rate for engineers is just 2% and overall employment growth for engineers will increase by 11% by 2018. This means that most engineering graduates have a variety of employment options available to them upon graduation.
More than half of engineers work outside of traditional engineering jobs, in fields such as medicine, law, finance, and consulting. Students with solid academic records who have held one or more summer internships and been active in student professional organizations usually receive the most job offers and the highest salaries upon graduation.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Programs
NSF REU Programs, hosted on college campuses across the country, are a great for students after their freshman year. Students must apply to individual programs. If accepted, they work on a research project as part of a team of faculty and students. REU programs allow students to gain expertise in topics not included as part of the standard undergraduate curriculum. Students also learn about engineering research and may learn to use sophisticated equipment, develop presentations and reports about their work, attend a conference, etc.Learn more about NSF REU programs