At Four Ingenieros Foundation we do it for the kids! We decided to give some advice, tips, stories, and lessons learned from the founders themselves. These tips and experiences have helped them strive from their early days as students and into their engineering careers. To start off this Professional Tip #1 we’d like to remind everyone that our end-of-the-year fundraising campaign is in full effect. Please donate now!
I Just graduated with my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and now it is time to look for a job, I was fresh out of college with one summer internship under my belt, very little experience in today’s job market. For those who know my journey it was not easy to get to this point but the one thing about me like many of you who can relate to my story have something called ganas, this inner persistence that does not allow you to quit.
After job hunting for a couple of months I got an interview with Glenair, a company who specializes in mission critical interconnects for aerospace and defense. The advice we give students today about researching, looking at past and current projects and really investing yourself in the company you are about to interview with came a long way for me during the interview. They knew I did not have a lot of experience, they knew my gpa was not the best, but they saw potential through the explanation of my projects and how knowledgeable I was to describe them in detail. They were glad to see my go-getter and willingness to learn attitude during the interview which were some of the main traits they were looking for in their next candidate.
I was hired under the Complex Cable Group (CCG) department where the most difficult cable harnesses are manufactured, tested and certified. Soon after being hired I was given difficult projects, I was sure that everything that I have been through had prepared me for this moment – the moment when they ask, Neff can you do this? Neff, I want you to lead this project, Neff can you run these tests? Happily, and without hesitation my reply was always YES! Then reality sets in, I had no idea what I had said yes to, where do I start? How do I do this? I just graduated, I have no experience?! Help! I promise this will happen to you, breathe, everything will be fine. After All, we are engineers and it is our job to figure things out. The rigorous coursework has developed our minds to think differently and come up with different solutions to problems. It is ok to not have all the answers but long as you have a go-getter mentality, do your research and ask for help you will be successful.
Saying yes to everything helped me become involved in many projects early in my career, this gave me visibility within the company and became a reliable engineer. Becoming a reliable engineer who the company can depend on helped me work on one of the biggest projects in my department, establishing standards and manufacturing procedures that are still being practiced today. As mentioned before I was leading big projects, within months I was tasked to interview prospective candidates and I was given the responsibility to make critical decisions. As a starting engineer it is very important to fully establish yourself in your company, do what it takes to become visible, reliable and a go-getter will help in the long run.
My advice to those who are interns or are just starting their careers is to fully immerse yourself, this is the opportunity you have been waiting for, so give it all you’ve got, make it count! It can become the difference between getting called back for another internship opportunity, advancement or even retention.
Author: Neftali Aguilera, Mechanical Engineer & Co-Founder