Engineering Jobs and College Experience

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Comments (5)

SamW in Charlottesville, Virginia

36 months ago


I currently in my second year (fourth semester) of the aerospace engineering program (with a business minor) at one of the larger public universities. Currently I have a GPA of 3.837, but I expect that to fall due to the increasing difficulty of the program and other unrelated issues. I'm trying to get a sense of my ability to get hired with my stats at this point and what I should do regarding internships.

I started a paid "internship" at the Department of Transportation in one of their research centers as a research assistant last summer. I am given a great deal of responsibility with little guidance and expected to complete the research projects (which include database administration and development) and given presentations before state/federal officials. I call it an "internship" as it's a hybrid between an internship and a job, as I will be allowed to continue working there, rather than it just being a single summer. However, while my job includes a great deal of collaboration and discussion regarding the projects I am given, it is not in the aerospace business. What should I do? Will it hurt me a great deal to be interning here, rather than an aerospace corporation when it comes to getting a job in the field?

Secondly, what is the typical GPA of a hire at a major aerospace corporation in your experience? I expect that I should be able to finish with at least a 3.0 as I know that is the hard cutoff for most major corporations. However, what GPA does a candidate usually have, and how important is it once it is above 3.0?

Given my current position (expected graduation GPA is between 3.42 and 3.11, with the upper bar at 3.63 and the lower bar at 3.01) what kind of job options could be available? Should I pursue a different internship. I'm quite terrified about my realistic job prospects at this point. Thanks for any help.

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Riot in Ware, Massachusetts

36 months ago

I don't know what companies use for a GPA cutoff while hiring engineers, if they even use one, but I do know that all of my engineer friends had GPAs above 3.5. I think your current internship will be helpful - it demonstrates that you can work within a company and probably as part of a team. That said, I think you should search for something more related to your field starting this summer. If you can't get something until the summer after your junior year, so be it, but you'll have a higher chance of being hired if you've completed actual engineering projects.

Also, this is anecdotal, but I think you might consider switching to a more general engineering discipline, such as mechanical or electrical (or maybe ChemE, depending what your interests in aerospace are). My reason for suggesting this is that my aerospace friend works for BestBuy while my MechE and EE friends are employed as engineers. (The ME actually works at an aerospace company.)

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

36 months ago

Seconded. My niece and her boyfriend graduated with ME degrees nearly two years ago. My niece then earned an M.S.M.E. She is working for a major oilfield services corporation. He is working for a major rubber products manufacturer.

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Jeff in Silver Spring, Maryland

36 months ago

I would make an appointment with a professor in the aerospace engineering dept. and ask him/her these questions.

I'm a little surprised that you project your GPA to fall that far. If you've completed 3 semesters, that means that you should have completed calculus and physics as well as 1 or 2 general engineering classes. If you can get through that with mostly A's, you clearly are a good student. The classes ahead of you might be difficult, but they're difficult for the other students as well.

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Unknown in Kailua, Hawaii

33 months ago

Try to keep your internship experience relevant to what you're interested in especially if you think your GPA is going to fall a bit. If your GPA isn't your strong suit, employers will naturally look at your work experience during school. But don't expect your GPA to fall as much as you're expecting. Try your hardest.

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