Recession Lessons Part 2: An Alum's Perspective
This week’s blog is written by Peggy Timmer, Lead Associate at Herren Associates. Peggy graduated with her B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio State in 2010 and completed her M.B.A. at Georgetown University in 2019. She has over a decade of experience interfacing with clients and stakeholders at all levels to execute strategic planning, business process re-engineering, continuous process improvement, and adoption of digital tools.
Tell us about your job search process when you were seeking your first position. What resources did you use?
Ten years ago, I had no idea what I was doing (and honestly, I'm not sure I do now... but I’ve gotten experience playing around with different approaches). Back then, I primarily used the OSU's Engineering Career Services website, and I had a pretty tough time. I was trying for a while to stay in Ohio, which limited my opportunities. Once I decided to pursue jobs outside of Ohio, more opened up. My adviser at the time reached out about an opportunity to do consulting for a small firm in Washington DC. Even though it wasn't a job in an area that I was pursuing (consulting) in a geographic area I was targeting (DC), I decided that a move there might be just what I needed; a complete change of pace from what I was used to. I've been living in Washington DC working for that consulting firm ever since.
What advice do you have for students struggling with their job search currently?
Stay positive and determined. Remind yourself of the great qualities you have and can offer to a company. If you don't get the job you wanted, try to reach out to the recruiter to find out why. Never give up. If you're invited to interview somewhere but you're not thrilled about the opportunity, interview anyway. You might be surprised by how much you like the people you interview with, which can tell you a lot about the culture of that company. Reach out to your network and ask folks to keep their eyes open for opportunities that could work for you. Network is HUGELY important for future job opportunities.
What resources/strategies do you suggest for their job search?
LinkedIn is a great tool for networking and finding a job that is a good fit. I look for opportunities to connect with people who have similar job experience to mine, and I message them to ask for time to talk about their experiences at companies, their transition from one company to another / industry to another, etc. And if they're willing to chat and learn more about you, they are usually wiling to refer you. Follow the companies you're interested in, and connect with people as much as you can. Attend conferences, get involved in groups, etc. Develop your "brand" as much as you can, so that people think of you when an opportunity comes up.
How can engineering students best position themselves for the current job market?
Be prepared to explore as many opportunities as you can. Don't pigeonhole yourself to one market or industry. Create two or three resumes that speak more to manufacturing, or service industry, etc. so that when you see a role open in one of those areas, your resume is ready to go, and you can submit it quickly. In addition, get active on LinkedIn. Develop your brand and incorporate that into your LinkedIn profile; and think about how you want to display the person you are and market yourself for job opportunities. Have conversations with people who have succeeded in the ways you want to. And don't be afraid to ask for a referral once you've chatted.
"Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock." - Unknown