Quick Advice: Finding an Engineering Job or Internship

Finding graduate engineering jobs and industrial placements can be quite the journey. Here’s some basic advice to help you with your application.
The gradsingapore Team

Whether you’re looking for a job, internship, or industrial placement, the journey of a jobseeker can be pretty daunting, especially after going at it for some time.

But here are some basic tips to help you through your journey.

The basics

  • Besides getting good grades, be sure to apply early. While most companies do adjust their application deadlines according to the graduation timeline of local universities, there are also those that offer programmes for different periods of the year, so do keep track of the companies you’re keen on.
  • Do your research and get help from a careers advisor.
  • Network. Get to know people and start building your network as soon as possible, especially with professionals in the sector that you want to work in. Career fairs, presentations, and conferences are good starting points.

Consider jobs or internships at small companies

  • Apply to both MNCs and SMEs. Limiting your applications could mean missing out on the opportunities that SMEs can offer you – SMEs often allow its graduate employees to take charge of greater responsibilities than MNCs. Graduates thus have a chance of picking up a wider variety of skills.
  • Many small and medium-sized firms can also offer a unique experience that MNCs with a defined graduate scheme can’t because of fixed syllabus/structure, such as opportunities to chart out your own career pathway or to pick up specialised skills outside of your industry that you think might benefit the company.

Finding work experience

  • Work experience is highly valued in the industry as engineering firms prefer candidates with the relevant technical skills, so do apply for internships or part-time positions to improve your chances at your next job interview.
  • Strategise and plan out your process. You can start with smaller companies for part-time jobs while waiting for internship programmes from major companies. MNCs typically only take in final year students, so prior experience from part-time gigs will certainly bulk up your résumé and give you the leg up in future applications.
  • Be persistent! If need be, call up recruiters that you’re interested in, and apply to as many quality employers as possible. Ask for shadowing opportunities if there are absolutely no positions available, or opt for unpaid work if necessary.

Research the industry you most want to work in…

  • Do your homework and research about the sectors and engineering firms that you are interested in, but don’t just stop there. Look into the positions and specific areas that you think you’d like to develop deeper knowledge/skills in. This shows initiative on your part and will give you an extra edge, especially during interviews.
  • Read up on the latest industry news to help you develop commercial awareness. You’ll need to show that you are actively keeping in touch with developments in the sector.

… but don’t get obsessed with an ‘ideal job’

  • Getting your ideal job is an ongoing process. Your first job is only the first step. Instead of just waiting for the “ideal” job, apply to a breadth of engineering sectors for a variety of experience and skills development.
  • Be willing to go beyond your specific degree area. Sometimes, you might find engineering jobs in other industries which might be even more satisfying than initially expected.

Non-engineering experience can boost your CV

  • Gaining experience in the industry can greatly boost your résumé, but don’t pigeonhole yourself. Experience in non-related fields can help you develop key transferable skills, such as problem-solving and negotiation skills, which are just as important to employers.
  • Remember to participate in co-curricular activities in school even as you strive to maintain an excellent CGPA. The activities are great avenues for you to develop both transferable and technical skills (depending on the society that you join).
  • Consider volunteering or charity work to help you develop people skills. It will also appeal to companies with CSR objectives.
  • Learning a new language or taking part in activities out of your comfort zone can help to demonstrate your willingness to try new things and initiative to grow.
  • Travelling can also help you gain experience, survival skills, and people skills that may be useful at the workplace.

Prepare properly for applications and interviews

  • Be meticulous when filling in application forms and always tailor it according to the position offered.
  • When interviewing, demonstrate commercial awareness: e.g. cost-performance trade off and other commercial pressures, alongside technical knowledge. Demonstrate that you know how to use both to add value to the company.
  • Know your basics well, especially during a technical interview. Be honest if you don’t know the answers. Your interviewers will be able to tell if you’re lying your way through.
  • Pinpoint competencies that are desired by the employer before you go for your interview and pre-arrange examples of how you’ve applied these qualities in both your work and daily life.
  • Go to your interview with questions on hand – particularly about the role, company, or prospects of the position. Make use of your research about the company to help you form these questions – this will demonstrate your level of interest.

Be positive and passionate

  • Target jobs that you’re passionate about, instead of jobs that you dislike but offer great pay. This will translate during your application process, such as during the interview and the assessment centre sessions.
  • Work on personal projects on topics that you’re interested in. For instance, you can start a project on mini-bot building and use it as part of your portfolio.
  • Never write an application when you’re down in the dumps! It shows!

Don’t limit your job search by geography

  • Don’t limit yourself to jobs within your neighbourhood or Singapore. There are many employers and organisations offering foreign internships – they can help build character and expose you to unique working experiences.

Get feedback on unsuccessful applications

  • Be active about seeking constructive feedback from employers, especially after the interview. Find out how you fared, and how you can improve.
  • Consider calling your interviewers/recruiters for this instead of emailing as emails can be easily ignored.