As we near commencement season, students at universities and colleges across the nation are preparing to enter the job market. That includes building up their resumes, completing dozens of job applications and participating in interviews.
Peggy Kepuraitis Matson, program director of Graduate Studies in Engineering Management and of Project Management at the Sever Institute, has a few words of advice for those looking to stand out in a crowded field.
Research and Set Your Priorities
Identify five or so companies of interest and learn all you can about them, including their values and company culture. Seek them out at career fairs, speaker events, University alumni networking opportunities and informational interviews. You don’t have to turn down opportunities that may arise, but it helps to focus your search.
Make a Good First Impression
When you meet a potential employer, lead with a warm and strong handshake. Then do what you can to show them your true character. Express your larger passions. Be polite, respectful and show intellectual humility.
Lead with Your Strengths
Start with your professional background, even if you don’t have industry experience as an engineer. For example, introduce yourself by saying “I’m a project manager who …" or “I am an electrical engineer who …” Then finish the thought with a concise statement about you.
Be Direct and Concise
Following your introduction, use one or two short, descriptive phrases that paint a picture of your skills and interests. For example, “I’m a project manager who gets things done,” “I am an electrical engineer who excels in the space between business and technology,” and “I'm finishing my master’s in cybersecurity, and I’m passionate about preventing cyberattacks.” Have a short story to tell that illustrates those attributes: a passion, a class project, an experience. Everyone tends to look the same on paper, so use every meeting as a chance to stand out.