Memo to Millennial Engineering Students
Welcome back to another nose-to-the-grindstone semester/quarter! We salute your extreme work ethic, and your ability to keep focused on the goal of graduating and working to make the world a better place. Here are some things to think about when you’re waiting for that numeric modeling program to run.
Based solely on demographics, your employment prospects are excellent. The Baby Boomer generation is retiring, and the Generation X labor force (66 million) is much smaller than the Millennial labor force (75 million). At SHN, we ran a simple age demographics model, and we predict that in five years, our percentage of Millennial staff will increase from 20% to 32%. Across the nation, civil engineering employment will grow by 8% from 2014 to 2024, which is 1% higher than all occupations.
Leadership and ability to work as a team are attributes that we employers look for; according to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 80% of employers are looking for evidence of leadership and team work. And because university and corporate environments are not the same, we look for that evidence in internships, other related employment, club activity, sports, and volunteer work. We know that studying and working simultaneously is very hard, and impossible for many. But during school, you can begin searching for internships for next semester or next summer, and start positioning yourself for when they become available. At SHN, we employ interns through the summer and the school year, if students can balance both.
Excellent written and oral communications skills continue to be sought-after attributes, and now is the best time for you to improve. Take advantage of writing labs and tutors, and ask your engineering professors for harsher editing if they aren’t critical enough. When looking at resumes, 70% of employers say they are looking for evidence of strong communications skills (NACE, 2016). We have found that good evidence is difficult to find; cover letters and school reports can be written and/or edited by others. When we check references, usually from professors and internship employers, we always ask, “how would you describe his/her communications skills?”
We wish you well on your 2016-2017 academic endeavors!
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