How to Land a Co-op or Full-Time Job

Luke Nguyen Blog
by Luke Nguyen, Chemical Engineering '21

Aside from coursework, the goal for an engineering student is to obtain experience through internships or co-op opportunities. Many of you may already know the difference but internships are typically during the Summer semester while co-ops are usually done in the Spring or Fall semesters. Make sure to know how your degree plan works before searching for opportunities since a co-op may push back your graduation date. For engineers, the experience during a co-op is sometimes worth the delay in graduation depending on when you want to graduate. Nevertheless, always pursue every opportunity and never be scared to ask if a company/firm can fit your schedule the way that you would prefer it.

Resume Preparation:
I believe that the first place to start when preparing for an upcoming career fair or interview is to update your resume. It is good practice to update it as you accomplish things throughout your career that way you don’t have to sit at your computer and think about what you did months or even years ago. Focus on bringing out the good details front and center since that is what the recruiter/interviewer is looking for when scanning through your resume. Never be afraid to ask for resume critiques. It is always a good idea to have a few people to look over your resume and give recommendations. I have personally sent my resume to about 10 different people to get their opinion before having my final version. Obviously there will be differing opinions and you can’t please everyone so choose what you think will look best and show off your amazing accomplishments and milestones!

Practice, practice, practice:
In most cases, practicing your elevator speech and speaking about your qualifications will always help. An elevator speech is the 2-3 minute introduction where you talk about your skills, experiences, and qualifications that make you a good candidate. You would typically use the elevator speech when first talking to a recruiter or someone that is interested in learning about your career. Practicing in front of your mirror works great but practicing in front of a friend will help prepare you to speak in front of a person that will most likely ask you questions following your introduction. In the end, it all boils down to being comfortable and treating it like a conversation.

Career Fair:
Doing research on the companies at the career fair that you’re interested in is almost always a good idea. You can find out about their culture, goals, new projects, and news from their own website. You could bring up some of the things you’ve learned during your conversation with the recruiter and they’ll be impressed that you did your research. Applying for an internship, co-op or the position that you’re interested in on their website beforehand is also another good thing to do before the career fair. Career fairs are typically structured where each company has a queue or a line to talk to a recruiter from that company. Once you join the queue, virtually or in person, practicing what you want to say and what you learned about them will hopefully ease some of your nerves. Career fairs can be stressful but all recruiters want from you is for you just to tell them about yourself. No one knows you better than yourself!

If you were selected for an interview for a position, congratulations! The recruiting team was impressed with your resume and your interactions with their team member(s). Interviews can consist of multiple rounds depending on the company and each of those rounds may have different people interviewing you. An interview may be more stressful than the career fair itself, but practice is the key to succeeding. There are countless places on the internet that have interview practice questions depending on if the interview is behavioral or technical. Behavioral interviews are a “get to know you” type of interview where the interviewer(s) will ask you about what you would do in certain scenarios. Technical interviews are when the interviewer(s) test your knowledge on different engineering or mathematical principles. Going through questions and having scenarios or stories that you want to use when answering questions will help with delivering your answer with clarity and precision. Always make sure to be on time and dress to impress.

I wish every student at Lamar University the best in their search for internships, co-ops and full time jobs!