Friday, May 6, 2011

The Job Hunt: What Worked for Me

 In part four of our four-part series on how to find a job, BU Today touches base with graduating senior Natalie Swenson (ENG’11), who has found a job in her field.

BU Today: You have already found a job. How did you do it?
Swenson: My job hunt began the fall of my senior year. I began researching more and more the types of jobs I would potentially like to get into. I realized that I wanted to incorporate my mechanical engineering education, my passion for green buildings and architecture (I founded a sustainability organization on campus called U.S. Green Building Council Students), and my desire for customer/consulting aspects in a career. Through various networking nights set up by the College of Engineering, as well as BU’s semiannual Career Fairs, I began to realize that there was a field of work I could get into that combined all of these interests. I reached out to a contact I had made at a company in downtown Boston and sent a résumé and cover letter. In December I went for an interview at the office, where I spoke with various senior engineers in the HVAC mechanical department. Over winter break, I sent in an employment application and another letter stating my increased interest in the company after my interview. I did not hear a definite or solid response for a few months. However, I stayed in contact with the hiring manager I had originally met, and after a few months of answering his questions and persistently showing my interest, I was asked in for a second interview. The next day I was offered a position as an HVAC mechanical engineer; I will be working on sustainable building design with a diverse network of customers.

What I have learned from my experience is that if you really want a job in a specific field, make sure it is known that you are passionate about it, remain confident that you are the best candidate for the position, and be patient. Something will work out the way it is supposed to for everyone.

What’s your single most important piece of advice to graduating seniors?
The most important piece of advice for graduating students seeking jobs is to not limit yourself to your specific major or field of study. Generally, students who acquire a degree from a well-rounded university such as BU have more options in terms of job fields. Again, networking is key. Career fairs, company open houses on campus, and department-specific professional networking nights are examples of ways that students can get a foot in the door and begin to make contacts.

What are the biggest mistakes a job searcher can make?
One of the biggest mistakes job hunters make is searching companies in specific fields for jobs, rather than realizing that there are other companies with similar opportunities. For example, if you’re looking for a career in energy, you should know that most large companies, such as Gillette, Teradyne, Boston Scientific, and GE, have energy departments. Another mistake is failing to start searching for jobs and reaching out to connections by at least the beginning of the semester of your graduation.

How useful is social media in finding a job?
Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, are helpful for job seekers and hiring teams. In addition, many companies, particularly larger ones, post jobs on social media sites, sometimes even before they list them on their website. A site like Twitter is great because a job seeker can learn about current events at a company.

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