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International Student Success Stories, featuring Syn Dee Chua

Today's blog features an OSU international engineering student who has been successful in their job search.  Syn Dee Chua is graduating this fall and is an undergraduate in Civil Engineering with minors in Surveying and Mapping as well as City and Regional Planning.  Last year she interned at EMH&T and is currently interning at George J. Igle & Co., Inc.  

Tell us about your role at your most recent position:  
At George J. Igel & Co., Inc., I work with a Project Manager to oversee various ongoing construction projects in the Columbus area. Main responsibilities include administering subcontracts and purchase orders for a project, track and submit extra work items, track project quantities, collecting and maintaining project documents. I also help with construction estimating to help with project bids. 

What resources did you use during your internship/job search? 
My biggest resource is word of mouth. I've been paying a lot of attention to the names of companies that people talk about or even mention in passing. I pay attention to the names when professors invite working professionals as guest lectures in class or when a fellow classmate says they worked at the company during the summer. I like to think that if a company has hired an OSU student before or have been to campus for events before, it is more likely that they're willing to hire OSU students. Sometimes word of mouth also means that the smaller and lesser known companies will be looking for people and I'll be able to hear about it. What I usually do after learning about a new company is go back and research it to learn more about the company - even if it's a company that does not align with what I want to do, just having a rough idea of what they do can be beneficial in the long run.

Another resource I like to use are events put on by academic/professional student organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Since it's an organization that is related to my field of study, they usually invite working engineers to come in and talk about their companies or projects that they are working on. I like these events because they are usually small and you are able to get to know the guest speaker presenting and learn about the company at the same time.  They'll also usually remember you and will keep you posted if they're looking to hire. These events are a really great because you can network and learn something at the same time - always a great plus as a student and as a job seeker! 

Other resources I use are the ECS Job Shadow Program, ECS online job listings, company info sessions on campus and the Engineering Career Fairs.

What core skills or qualities do you think employers find most useful?
A lot of employers like to see students being involved on campus. This can mean student organizations that interest you, but it also means being involved in professional bodies like ASCE or ASME or IEEE and the sort. If there isn't a professional organization, project teams like the Buckeye Bullet, EcoCAR or even things like participating in engineering-related service work or competitions are useful.  A lot of employers I meet are also members professional societies, and they will be more interested in you if they learn that you are also a member of their professional society.  Being part of a professional body or a student group/organization tells employers that you are genuinely interested in your field of study and are also a well rounded student. Employers also like people who can communicate well. This does not mean that you need to have perfect grammar, but simply that you can get your message across. For example, a lot of engineers have to deal with non-engineers and being able to explain technical information to someone without the background yet still being able to get the job done is absolutely crucial to a company.

What would you tell your peers they need to do to find a great internship or full-time position?
It's easy submit 100 resumes, but you might only get 5 interviews. Yet in the end you may or may not get a job. Don't lose hope. Never decline an opportunity to practice your skills at interviewing and most of all don't stop learning - about the companies you interview for or about latest developments in your field of study.  Laslty, never end a professional relationship with the people you were interviewed by! 

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
-Thomas Jefferson