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The Job Hunt: What Worked for Me

How a graduating senior found a job in her field

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Graduating senior Natalie Swenson (ENG’11) has a job already; she says that networking is key, and that job seekers should check out all career fairs, company open houses on campus, and professional networking nights. Photo courtesy of Natalie Swenson

In part four of our four-part series on how to find a job, BU Today touches base with graduating senior Natalie Swenson (ENG’11), who has found a job in her field.

BU Today: You have already found a job. How did you do it?
Swenson: My job hunt began the fall of my senior year. I began researching more and more the types of jobs I would potentially like to get into. I realized that I wanted to incorporate my mechanical engineering education, my passion for green buildings and architecture (I founded a sustainability organization on campus called U.S. Green Building Council Students), and my desire for customer/consulting aspects in a career. Through various networking nights set up by the College of Engineering, as well as BU’s semiannual Career Fairs, I began to realize that there was a field of work I could get into that combined all of these interests. I reached out to a contact I had made at a company in downtown Boston and sent a résumé and cover letter. In December I went for an interview at the office, where I spoke with various senior engineers in the HVAC mechanical department. Over winter break, I sent in an employment application and another letter stating my increased interest in the company after my interview. I did not hear a definite or solid response for a few months. However, I stayed in contact with the hiring manager I had originally met, and after a few months of answering his questions and persistently showing my interest, I was asked in for a second interview. The next day I was offered a position as an HVAC mechanical engineer; I will be working on sustainable building design with a diverse network of customers.

What I have learned from my experience is that if you really want a job in a specific field, make sure it is known that you are passionate about it, remain confident that you are the best candidate for the position, and be patient. Something will work out the way it is supposed to for everyone.

What’s your single most important piece of advice to graduating seniors?
The most important piece of advice for graduating students seeking jobs is to not limit yourself to your specific major or field of study. Generally, students who acquire a degree from a well-rounded university such as BU have more options in terms of job fields. Again, networking is key. Career fairs, company open houses on campus, and department-specific professional networking nights are examples of ways that students can get a foot in the door and begin to make contacts.

What are the biggest mistakes a job searcher can make?
One of the biggest mistakes job hunters make is searching companies in specific fields for jobs, rather than realizing that there are other companies with similar opportunities. For example, if you’re looking for a career in energy, you should know that most large companies, such as Gillette, Teradyne, Boston Scientific, and GE, have energy departments. Another mistake is failing to start searching for jobs and reaching out to connections by at least the beginning of the semester of your graduation.

How useful is social media in finding a job?
Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, are helpful for job seekers and hiring teams. In addition, many companies, particularly larger ones, post jobs on social media sites, sometimes even before they list them on their website. A site like Twitter is great because a job seeker can learn about current events at a company.

Do you see any dangers to social media?
Social media can be disadvantageous to a job seeker if a profile is not updated or if there are visible pictures or comments that are unprofessional.

Do you know of any guaranteed deal breakers?
Some guaranteed job interview deal breakers are failing to dress for the part (at least business casual attire) or to research the company or position for which you are being interviewed, not making eye contact with the interviewer, arriving late for an interview, or lacking confidence in your abilities and skills.

Read part one, an interview with H. Scott Smith (LAW’96), author of Find Your Perfect Job: The Inside Guide for Young Professionals, here, part two, an interview with Lorri Zelman (GRS’90) of executive search firm Solomon Page Group, here, and part three, an interview with Justin McCummings, associate director of the School of Management’s Feld Career Center, here.

11 Comments

11 Comments on The Job Hunt: What Worked for Me

  • Anonymous on 05.05.2011 at 8:42 pm

    So the fact that she is a pretty, female engineer has nothing to do with the job success? Of course I believe that her highly professional manner, likely admirable GPA, and networking skills were the greatest indicators of a worthy job candidate. But you cannot expect me to believe that her gender and appearance did not play some part.

    If BU Today really wanted to impress people, it would show the successful job hunt of some average Humanities major. Not a pretty engineer.

    • Ayup on 10.04.2012 at 7:53 am

      Yup – you hit the nail on the head.

    • sowhat on 02.27.2014 at 1:48 pm

      So what? Does it make you angry that she is pretty, determined, and intelligent? Then entire package! I say good for her. If her physical appearance works in her favor, god bless her.
      You, on the other hand… I feel sad for you.
      Take care.

  • Anonymous on 05.06.2011 at 12:32 pm

    So im guessing you’re the bitter jobless average humanities major?

  • Anonymous on 05.06.2011 at 1:18 pm

    BU Today did not know she was an engineering student or what she looked like, but knew she was recommended by someone in the Alumni Office as having a successful job search.

  • Anonymous on 05.07.2011 at 2:59 pm

    Of course the Alumni Office would recommend someone who’s an engineer when asked about someone who’s had a successful job search–how many humanities major had? lol

  • Anonymous on 05.10.2011 at 7:22 am

    Actually, the fact that a female engineer found a job so quickly is wonderful and surprising. Engineering is a boys’ club hesitant to integrate women. As much as most men value the presence of attractive women, they aren’t easily accepted as peers in the fields dominated by men.

    Congratulations to her.

    • Anonymous on 05.02.2012 at 10:45 am

      Agree. Though some big companies try to keep male-female balanced, but generally I do not think girls have any advantage working as engineers.

    • Ayup on 10.04.2012 at 7:55 am

      “Engineering is a boys’ club hesitant to integrate women.”

      Maybe in the 1950s… The company I work for (Fortune 100) actively searches for female engineers. The two previous companies I worked for did the same thing – attractive female + intelligence + engineering degree == guaranteed job coming out of school.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2012 at 3:57 pm

    99 percent of companies try to hire women or minorities for engineering jobs (some actively recruit them as well). The imbalance is such that it is a male dominated field so women typically get moved to the top of the list by Human Resources. That is just how it is nowadays.

  • Aryn Mayor on 05.16.2012 at 5:34 pm

    Another tip for new grads is to set up an online social résumé (similar to a portfolio) to market themselves, stand out from competing grads/job seekers and creatively showcase their experience and social profiles. Such a powerful tool!

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