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RE: Future Structural Engineer

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Phil,

I graduated in 1986 from Cal Poly SLO with about a 2.3 GPA - I was not a
very good student, grade-wise, but I did pay my way through college through
odd jobs and the like.  I landed my first job because the company was so
impressed with one of my classmates on a co-op that they wanted to
permanently hire one of his classmates, and he and I had just been out
drinking beers together, so he told them to call me.  Lucky, huh?  Upon my
hire, I realized two things:  1) You don't have much practical structural
knowledge when you get out of school, regardless of your GPA, and 2) a good
GPA does not necessarily make a good engineer.  A good GPA does not always
represent a motivated person, or a person who can get along with co-workers
and clients, or a person with common sense.  The place I worked at most
recently, before I started my own company last year, hired employees almost
soley on personality.  They'd get 25 resumes a month, and call in maybe 2 of
them, and hire maybe 1 every 3 months.  And the decision was almost always
based on personality.  "Is this person going to fit in here?"  Whether a
person with 0 years experience or a person with 15 years experience.  The
turnover at that place was very small, because most of the time, the people
did fit in, and they liked working with the other people who were hired
under similar circumstances.  So, to end a long-winded discussion, my advice
to you is to put together a resume that shows off the real you; make sure it
says something about volunteering at church and tutoring at a college as
well as your engineering background.  In your cover letter, talk about your
work ethic, your communication skills, and your stability.  These are things
which employers look for in addition to any engineering experience or GPA.
Once you get a job, learn everything you can about the technical, the
business, and the people sides of structural engineering.  Armed with a bit
of experience and these skills, you'll find the doors of this business
opening for you.  I've worked for 7 different companies in California and
Colorado, and since that first interview, nobody has ever asked about my
GPA.

Jeff Chacon, P.E.
Structural Design Collaborative, LLC
Denver, Colorado

-----Original Message-----
From: Phillip Rogers [mailto:perogers(--nospam--at)rocketmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2001 10:44 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Future Structural Engineer


Hello all,

I am a graduate with a BS in Civil/Structural
engineering.  I have been out of school for about 9
months trying very hard to find a job in the
structural area.  This is my emphasis and strong
interest.  I am very frustrated with my inability to
find a job.

When I first graduated I was waiting on a hiring
freeze for nearly 5 months to begin working with a
company.  The freeze was never lifted.  This process
was repeated about 2 more times.  Thus my past 9
months have been a waste.  Of course hindsite is
20/20, and I wish that I had taken some kind of job.
But, I have always had a strong job lead that has
prevented me from making any commitments to a job.

My dilema is this.  I know I have a lot to offer.
However, my GPA was fairly low (2.6)and I have been
out of work.  But I have kept myself busy with
visiting family, job search, college math tutoring,
learning structural software, and volunteering my
services to painting some murals for a church.  I am
worried how all this makes me look.  How do I present
myself to potential employers and overshadow these
negative points that are not indicative of the kind of
person/worker that I am.

The GPA subject has been a sensitive one for me.  I
know that my abilities and work ethic are much better
than that.  I encountered some very personal
situations (not due to any irresponsibility of my own)
outside of school that required me to be out of town
alot and was a hinderance to my studies.  Of my 9
semesters in school, 2 semesters are what caused my
grades to plummet.  The other 7 were pretty good.
If I am asked about my grades, how do I present myself
as much better than my GPA shows, without looking like
I am making excuses.  I feel like there is no engineer
out there who understands what I am talking about.
Did every engineer cruise through college without
facing any obstacles outside of the classroom?
Throughout school I was a strong A-B student when it
came to projects and assignments.  But as you all know
that accounts for very little of a course grade.

I am an entry level candidate with no structural
engineering related experience.  I have summer
experience as survey/site draftsman and in the general
non-technical business sector.

I have 2 interviews scheduled over the next 5 business
days for positions that I am very interested in.  The
structural engineering market seems to be picking up
some in my area of the country, finally.

Any advice, for this longwinded message.

Thanks

Phil Rogers, EI



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