Recession Lessons: An Alum's Perspective
This week’s blog is written by Michael Meade, GE9X High Pressure Turbine Airfoils Team Leader for GE Aviation. Michael graduated with his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State in 2010 and completed his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering as part of the Edison Engineering Development Program (EEDP). He has served as GE’s Ohio State Campus Recruiting Leader since Spring 2018.
Did the 2007-2009 recession affect your job search? What resources did you use and who did you turn to for help?
The 2007-2009 recession did have an impact on my job search. I already had my established co-op rotations with GE Aviation, but in the 2008-2009 timeframe, I began the effort of interviewing with other companies to experience different fields. However, interviews were cancelled in some instances and job opportunities rapidly disappeared. Given those changes, I turned to the connections I already built at GE Aviation to maintain strong performance through my rotations. Knowing that the number of interns drops during the fall/winter/spring months, I chose to alternate my rotations every summer and fall. This not only gave me more experience, but allowed me to be available for roles which may have otherwise been filled. This required close connection with ECS and also my academic advisor to adjust my academic plan.
Later, as the summer and fall of 2009 were approaching, interviews for full-time positions were on the horizon. I conducted my post-graduation full-time interviews over the summer with an expectation to hear responses on offer letters before school began in the fall. As time went on, offer letter decisions were continually delayed due to the financial climate. With the fall Engineering Expo staring me in the face and no confirmed job offer, I began my career fair preparations in earnest in addition to considering post-graduate options. For those discussions, I turned to my faculty advisors for advice and potential opportunities.
With only one week to go before the Expo, a job offer from GE Aviation arrived as the economy began to slowly recover from 2009 into 2010, but I was glad to have taken the time to connect with so many groups and people to build my network and prepare for the uncertainty of the future.
What advice do you have for students struggling with their job search currently?
One of the unique issues facing students with the current financial climate is that numerous industries are impacted with dramatic effect. Some in a positive sense while others in a negative sense. Obviously that has forced many companies to adjust their investment plans, cost structures, and hiring plans. Not only are those plans changing but the recruiting landscape is also going through a shift from in-person to much more virtual. Everyone (companies, universities, and students) will have to adjust together which means we will all be learning and succeeding at the same time.
For those struggling with job search options, know that many companies are also struggling. In order to find more opportunities, you need to pull on the experience of your network. The wider you grow your network, the more opportunities you can find, even in a challenging economy.
Know that the industry in which you are interested may not recover for a while. For example: air travel is going to likely take years before it is “back to normal” and that industry or others may never return to what we previously considered normal. You may have to take some time to consider alternate opportunities or industries before breaking-out to your ideal role.
How can engineering students best position themselves for the current job market?
- Embrace remote, virtual, and digital connections. Everyone will be learning how to be successful with that all at the same time, but it’s on YOU to manage your presence and get connected with companies when opportunities arise. Don’t be afraid or shy to connect on LinkedIn with a recruiter. Provide some background in a message on why you’re looking to connect.
- Remember that now is the time to be flexible and adaptive – both great skills to demonstrate during interviews.
- Be clear about your passions and your goals. Yes, times are changing, but YOU are still the best resource on YOU – share your story and how you can make a difference in whatever opportunity you pursue.
- Take advantage of the offerings from companies right now, be that Tech Talks, Virtual Case Competitions, training opportunities, etc. Those extracurriculars can pay-off if you’re having trouble finding a position
"There is no magic to achievement. It's really about hard work, choices, and persistence." - Michelle Obama