No need to stress about your career
I realized how many people around me had secured summer internships when my sophomore year ended. When I went home after finals, I applied to positions in a panic. I was afraid I made a mistake by never attending career fairs and making no effort to get an internship. Needless to say, no offers came my way.
I started going to the career fair my junior year. By this point, I had participated in several group projects in my courses, which is definitely a talking point with recruiters when you have no prior experience. Looking back, I probably didn’t feel experienced or knowledgeable enough as a sophomore. It wasn’t the end of the world that I didn’t have an internship before.
As an engineering student, I am required to take the Professional Development series of classes. In my four-year template, PDIII is suggested during my last semester. I decided to take it during my spring semester junior year to get it over with, and I cannot recommend doing this enough. I found the “60 Second Sell” assignment actually worthwhile; it prepared me for what to say when I walked up to recruiters at the career fair. Along with this assignment were potential interview questions that we had to answer on the spot. If you take this your senior year, chances are you’ve gone through career fairs, interviews, and jobs, and this assignment is nothing you haven’t successfully done already.
Fortunately, I ended up receiving an offer for a summer internship after my junior year. It was with a good company and it seemed I’d be in a position I would like. It turned out the role was nothing like I thought it would be and I honestly hated it. I didn’t get experience in the field I wanted, and I thought this would hurt me when applying to future positions. But, I gained more than I thought; I was on a manufacturing floor where I learned about process flow, communication with operators, and more. I talked about this a lot with recruiters. When you are talking to recruiters, you should try to emphasize the initiatives you took and how you communicated with people up and down the hierarchy. After being turned down from a company this year, the feedback they gave me was that I lacked technical skills for the job, but I had the soft skills that couldn’t be taught.
It’s okay if you don’t have all the experience for a role you want. The full-time offer I accepted for this summer is in a field I unfortunately have no experience in. You don’t need a perfect GPA. As long as you communicate the key points of any project, course, or interaction you’ve had, your effort will be recognized. Sometimes people are turned down for reasons out of their control; I’ve heard stories of recruiters just not getting to that letter in the alphabet.
You don’t need to settle. The thought of receiving a return offer from my summer internship was appealing to me even though I didn’t enjoy my time there; being able to coast through senior year with a job under my belt would’ve been stress-free. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get one. It pushed me to do the work for the fall career fair and reach for a job I actually wanted. I ended up with more than one option and I am proud to say I’ll be moving across the country to work in a field that I think I will enjoy.
I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Finding internships and full-time jobs can be a lengthy, frustrating, and stressful process, but in the end, your career will work out.