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Tracker
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06 Jan 2011, 9:15 pm

Hello all

I suppose I will start with some quick background info before I jump into the questions, because the questions wont make sense without the background info.

To start with, I went to a very nice tech school in high school where I learned some lovely engineering fundamentals (2002-2004). I got a 4.0 there

Then I went to college and got my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, with a concentration on system design (2004-2008). I got a 3.7 there.

During my time in college I had an internship at a local power plant where I did mainly dirty and messy lab work (testing coal quality).

I eventually graduated in 2008, and then got a job working as an engineer at a poorly run, massively bureaucratic, multinational conglomerate where I accomplished very little aside from attending pointless meetings and filling out paperwork that nobody was going to read. That job lasted about a year before the poor economy caught up and I got laid off (basically last in, first out). To be honest, I wasn't so bummed about this as my time at the company was being wasted, and I was hopeful to find another job elsewhere that actually did work.

However, despite my efforts to obtain a job, I was unable to come up with anything. So, I decided to go back to school and get my Masters in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in aerodynamic design and analysis. That is going well, and I am on schedule to graduate in the spring, with a GPA of 4.0.

So, since I am planning to have a job in a few months, and engineering jobs generally take 3-4 months to process, interview, and hire, I am starting to apply now. And as such, I am making an updated resume. Which leads me to my questions:

1. What education should I list?
Seeing as how I have a master's degree, it seems reasonable that I don't need to list my high school. But should I still list my bachelor's degree? It does have a lower GPA then my masters, but if I leave it off, then people might get the false impression that I am trying to hide my bachelor's degree. I am not sure about the standard here regarding which education you should list.

2. Should I list my college internship?
To be honest, my college internship had very little to do with actual engineering. It was just a process of collecting samples from the machinery, and running lab tests following the printed guidelines. Anybody who can read could have done the job. And I don't want to get any jobs that involve more manual labor and tedious lab work. So I really see no benefit in listing the job, as the 'skills' that I used are not skills that I wish to use again. But then again, the job does show that I have more work experience, and some companies care more about the time worked then actual knowledge.

3. How do I make my last job sound good on a resume?
My last job was really just a bundle of bureaucracy, and pointless meetings, like the Dilbert comic strip, but without the humor. I did get one good assignment, and accomplish a few small things which made a difference in the final design, but that was only a 1 month assignment out of the year that I was there. Do I just over-emphasize the work I did during that one productive assignment? I could also take the other tasks that I 'worked on', and claim that I was responsible for the (nearly non-existent) progress that was made. But I really had nothing to do with the actual progress that was made, I was just in the general vicinity working on pointless busy work while a few people actually got permission to do real work, and made some mild progress. How do I go about presenting this as a productive, and useful job that shows I have the skills and knowledge that supposedly goes along with experience?

4. Does my marketing website seem effective?
As part of my efforts to get a job, I made myself a lovely website at http://www.TrevorJames.4t.com (no bonus points for guessing my name). I put it at the bottom of my resume like so:

RECENT PROJECTS:
• Designed customized propeller using CATIA and Fluent
• Designed and built quadrupedal robot using Pro-Engineer
• Designed fuel cell powered racing vehicle
• See http://www.trevorjames.4t.com for more details

The basic idea is that the person who is reviewing resumes will click on the link, and get to see some of my work, along with the engineering that went into it. Unfortunately, there are many people with engineering degrees really didn't pay attention in class and learn the information that they are supposed to, so lots engineers really aren't capable of actually producing work that involves math. I wanted to show that I have the skills and expertise to do engineering, and that I have examples of my work to back that up.

However, I don't really know if it is too wordy, or too complex to be effective at getting the point across. I understand that resume reviewing process generally starts with somebody in HR who scans through resumes in 30 seconds and tosses out 80-90% of applicants for arbitrary reasons. This person won't click on the link, so it really isn't meant for them. After that, the resumes will be reviewed by somebody in engineering management who will hopefully take the time to read the resumes, and that is where the website comes into play. But I don't know if he will go through and actually read it. I tried to include fancy pictures as people tend to skim through and just look at the pictures, and hopefully that will be enough. But I wanted to get some feedback from other people saying whether or not they think the website is effective at demonstrating my 'hireability'


Beyond that, wish me luck. I can hopefully get a good job this time around and work on some real projects.


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DenvrDave
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06 Jan 2011, 10:29 pm

Hi Tracker, I've been in the engineering business for over 20 years, routinely review and internally distribute resumes, interview candidates, and participate in making hiring decisions. I'm happy to provide you with the following answers and opinions.

Tracker wrote:
1. What education should I list?
Seeing as how I have a master's degree, it seems reasonable that I don't need to list my high school. But should I still list my bachelor's degree? It does have a lower GPA then my masters, but if I leave it off, then people might get the false impression that I am trying to hide my bachelor's degree. I am not sure about the standard here regarding which education you should list.


List all college degrees. No need to list high school diploma. List your GPAs only if they are above 3.0, but be consistent...list them all or list none. Not listing the GPA will not hurt your chances.

Tracker wrote:
2. Should I list my college internship?
To be honest, my college internship had very little to do with actual engineering. It was just a process of collecting samples from the machinery, and running lab tests following the printed guidelines. Anybody who can read could have done the job. And I don't want to get any jobs that involve more manual labor and tedious lab work. So I really see no benefit in listing the job, as the 'skills' that I used are not skills that I wish to use again. But then again, the job does show that I have more work experience, and some companies care more about the time worked then actual knowledge.


Yes, especially if there is someone at the internship who will provide a reference/recommendation. The experience may be more valuable than you think. It demonstrates that you were able to hold a job down, (probably) showed up on time, were able to follow directions, were able to work cooperatively with other people, were able to deal with the bureaucracy, etc. There are a lot of intangible qualities necessary to holding down an engineering job in addition to solid technical skills.

Tracker wrote:
3. How do I make my last job sound good on a resume?
My last job was really just a bundle of bureaucracy, and pointless meetings, like the Dilbert comic strip, but without the humor. I did get one good assignment, and accomplish a few small things which made a difference in the final design, but that was only a 1 month assignment out of the year that I was there. Do I just over-emphasize the work I did during that one productive assignment? I could also take the other tasks that I 'worked on', and claim that I was responsible for the (nearly non-existent) progress that was made. But I really had nothing to do with the actual progress that was made, I was just in the general vicinity working on pointless busy work while a few people actually got permission to do real work, and made some mild progress. How do I go about presenting this as a productive, and useful job that shows I have the skills and knowledge that supposedly goes along with experience?


If I understand the timing properly, it was your first job out of college. Noone is going to expect you to have accomplished very much in the first year. Focus on actions and verbs. Use phrases like "Participated" "Contributed" "Provided support". Most definitely emphasize the the work you did on the one productive assignment. Also, your job description should only be about one paragraph. Remember, the resume is an introduction to you...not a complete accounting of everything you've done on a month by month basis. The purpose of the resume is to leave this thought in the reviewers' minds: "Looks like a qualified candidate...I'd like to learn more."

Tracker wrote:
4. Does my marketing website seem effective?
As part of my efforts to get a job, I made myself a lovely website at http://www.TrevorJames.4t.com (no bonus points for guessing my name). I put it at the bottom of my resume like so:

RECENT PROJECTS:
• Designed customized propeller using CATIA and Fluent
• Designed and built quadrupedal robot using Pro-Engineer
• Designed fuel cell powered racing vehicle
• See http://www.trevorjames.4t.com for more details

The basic idea is that the person who is reviewing resumes will click on the link, and get to see some of my work, along with the engineering that went into it. Unfortunately, there are many people with engineering degrees really didn't pay attention in class and learn the information that they are supposed to, so lots engineers really aren't capable of actually producing work that involves math. I wanted to show that I have the skills and expertise to do engineering, and that I have examples of my work to back that up.


I really liked your website, it clearly demonstrates far more depth of your abilities than I think would come across on the resume. Your website is clearly written, has a lot of graphipcal content so it is easy to scan, and it is technical. Definitely keep it up to date and include it on the resume.

Tracker wrote:
I understand that resume reviewing process generally starts with somebody in HR who scans through resumes in 30 seconds and tosses out 80-90% of applicants for arbitrary reasons.


Close, but its not that arbitrary, at least in the firms I've worked for. The HR screen is simply to make sure that the candidate has the minimum qualifications listed on the job anouncement. Another alternative you might consider is finding or making contact with engineering managers through good old networking and telephone calls, and send your resume directly to the managers thereby skipping the HR screen. IMHO this will be a better way to score a job.

Tracker wrote:
After that, the resumes will be reviewed by somebody in engineering management who will hopefully take the time to read the resumes, and that is where the website comes into play. But I don't know if he will go through and actually read it.


Depends on the individual. I would look at it. The people I work with would look at it. Many other managers I know would look at it.

Tracker wrote:
I tried to include fancy pictures as people tend to skim through and just look at the pictures, and hopefully that will be enough. But I wanted to get some feedback from other people saying whether or not they think the website is effective at demonstrating my 'hireability'


Again, I think the website you have made would be a very nice complement to your resume.

Tracker wrote:
Beyond that, wish me luck. I can hopefully get a good job this time around and work on some real projects.


Best of luck!



ksuther09
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06 Jan 2011, 10:55 pm

Nice website! I like it! Another suggestion if you're worried about going through the HR ringer, then I would maybe make business cards with the link to your website. I would still write out a resume and post it as a link on your website :) Anyway, that's a great networking tool! I got that from a book Developing Talents which is a career book for people on the spectrum! Best wishes!



JoeR43
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07 Jan 2011, 11:03 pm

Tracker wrote:
Hello all

I suppose I will start with some quick background info before I jump into the questions, because the questions wont make sense without the background info.

To start with, I went to a very nice tech school in high school where I learned some lovely engineering fundamentals (2002-2004). I got a 4.0 there

Then I went to college and got my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, with a concentration on system design (2004-2008). I got a 3.7 there.

During my time in college I had an internship at a local power plant where I did mainly dirty and messy lab work (testing coal quality).

I eventually graduated in 2008, and then got a job working as an engineer at a poorly run, massively bureaucratic, multinational conglomerate where I accomplished very little aside from attending pointless meetings and filling out paperwork that nobody was going to read. That job lasted about a year before the poor economy caught up and I got laid off (basically last in, first out). To be honest, I wasn't so bummed about this as my time at the company was being wasted, and I was hopeful to find another job elsewhere that actually did work.

However, despite my efforts to obtain a job, I was unable to come up with anything. So, I decided to go back to school and get my Masters in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in aerodynamic design and analysis. That is going well, and I am on schedule to graduate in the spring, with a GPA of 4.0.

So, since I am planning to have a job in a few months, and engineering jobs generally take 3-4 months to process, interview, and hire, I am starting to apply now. And as such, I am making an updated resume. Which leads me to my questions:

1. What education should I list?
Seeing as how I have a master's degree, it seems reasonable that I don't need to list my high school. But should I still list my bachelor's degree? It does have a lower GPA then my masters, but if I leave it off, then people might get the false impression that I am trying to hide my bachelor's degree. I am not sure about the standard here regarding which education you should list.

2. Should I list my college internship?
To be honest, my college internship had very little to do with actual engineering. It was just a process of collecting samples from the machinery, and running lab tests following the printed guidelines. Anybody who can read could have done the job. And I don't want to get any jobs that involve more manual labor and tedious lab work. So I really see no benefit in listing the job, as the 'skills' that I used are not skills that I wish to use again. But then again, the job does show that I have more work experience, and some companies care more about the time worked then actual knowledge.

3. How do I make my last job sound good on a resume?
My last job was really just a bundle of bureaucracy, and pointless meetings, like the Dilbert comic strip, but without the humor. I did get one good assignment, and accomplish a few small things which made a difference in the final design, but that was only a 1 month assignment out of the year that I was there. Do I just over-emphasize the work I did during that one productive assignment? I could also take the other tasks that I 'worked on', and claim that I was responsible for the (nearly non-existent) progress that was made. But I really had nothing to do with the actual progress that was made, I was just in the general vicinity working on pointless busy work while a few people actually got permission to do real work, and made some mild progress. How do I go about presenting this as a productive, and useful job that shows I have the skills and knowledge that supposedly goes along with experience?

4. Does my marketing website seem effective?
As part of my efforts to get a job, I made myself a lovely website at http://www.TrevorJames.4t.com (no bonus points for guessing my name). I put it at the bottom of my resume like so:

RECENT PROJECTS:
• Designed customized propeller using CATIA and Fluent
• Designed and built quadrupedal robot using Pro-Engineer
• Designed fuel cell powered racing vehicle
• See http://www.trevorjames.4t.com for more details

The basic idea is that the person who is reviewing resumes will click on the link, and get to see some of my work, along with the engineering that went into it. Unfortunately, there are many people with engineering degrees really didn't pay attention in class and learn the information that they are supposed to, so lots engineers really aren't capable of actually producing work that involves math. I wanted to show that I have the skills and expertise to do engineering, and that I have examples of my work to back that up.

However, I don't really know if it is too wordy, or too complex to be effective at getting the point across. I understand that resume reviewing process generally starts with somebody in HR who scans through resumes in 30 seconds and tosses out 80-90% of applicants for arbitrary reasons. This person won't click on the link, so it really isn't meant for them. After that, the resumes will be reviewed by somebody in engineering management who will hopefully take the time to read the resumes, and that is where the website comes into play. But I don't know if he will go through and actually read it. I tried to include fancy pictures as people tend to skim through and just look at the pictures, and hopefully that will be enough. But I wanted to get some feedback from other people saying whether or not they think the website is effective at demonstrating my 'hireability'


Beyond that, wish me luck. I can hopefully get a good job this time around and work on some real projects.


First off, congrats for doing something with a shitty situation. It's a refreshing change from perpetual whining in here.

Now, on to your questions.
1) Definitely leave your B.S. in. They won't care what your GPA in Undergrad was anyway, especially with a 4.0 in Grad.
2) If you have any good marketable projects or skills learned from the job, yes. Otherwise, no.
3) Well, you'll have to talk about your time at the company (else they will assume you're hiding something). I'd emphasize, maybe over-emphasize, that one project. If you have any skills that can tie back to the job, I'd mention those, too. Your reason for leaving isn't particularly damaging either.
4) Yes, the website is a great idea; successful people keep a web presence these days, and use it to highlight their professional passions and expertise. I maintain a blog that shows my skills in data mining and analysis, for example. I would, however, see if one of your professors (I'm sure there's one who really likes you, you have a 4.0 after all) would take a look at it and give feedback. This is something to sell to the hiring manager, not the recruiter, so substance should beat flash.



DW_a_mom
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08 Jan 2011, 2:55 pm

DenvrDave hit all the important points and I agree with his answers. I haven't looked at the website yet but maybe can later.

As for that first job, what is going to get more interesting is practicing how to talk about it for the interview. You never want to talk bad about a former employer, but you will be asked questions, since this is the most relevant work experience you have. You can be matter of fact about the lay off, saying it was first in, first out and you felt it was fair and after the initial, inevitable disappointment were excited about using that opportunity to put your career on a better course. You can say that you didn't feel the job was a great fit, but that the experience helped you narrow down a bit more what you want in a future employer: more challenge, etc. Basically, being honest while turning it all to positive things the new employer will be interested in (most like employees who want to challenged).

Good luck!! !! !


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DW_a_mom
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09 Jan 2011, 2:52 am

FYI, I've now had a chance to look at the website, and I like it. I can't say who will take the time to look at it and who won't, but it gives some really nice information to the interested party, including the fact that you can write (which many engineers cannot). Something above and beyond that isn't forced on them, but offered as an option. I think it's a great idea.

As for getting through those first resume screens ... yes, in most places it's all about the checklist of job requirements. But don't let a missing requirement stop you from sending a resume. Sometimes they use a strict screening, and sometimes they don't, and when they don't, a well placed explanation of why you think you are a great candidate despite the missing item will be read and duly considered. Often times the most motivated employees come from the group that takes the risk of applying without all the qualifications, simply because they believe in themselves enough to believe they can learn the missing skill rapidly (and they say that in their cover letter). Depends on the screening process in the company if they'll be able to factor that in or not, but you won't know if you don't try. I've always worked for companies that actually like to read the resumes looking for a unique spark, because you hire the most interesting people that way. Highly unscientific, and yet highly effective.


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Mom to an amazing AS son, who recently graduated from the university (plus an also amazing non-AS daughter). Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).