Sunday, September 18, 2011

Job search woes

I'm here to just express my grief in my continued and failed efforts to find some sort of paid engineering job. What it seems it boils down to is one word "experience".

As I've ventured out and applied to numerous jobs, I've run across at least 50x as many similar jobs but requiring that minimum of 5 years of experience. Now I've put this qualm aside and occasionally manage to find those illusive "entry-level" positions.

I've had the benefit of a few recent interviews. Each interview was very different, yet they all seemed to carry the same message (directly or indirectly) upon rejecting me. This is the keyword of course. In my most recent interview, I was promptly notified of my rejection (the next day if you can imagine that) with some comments about my interview.

The first of the comments had to do with some of my interviewing skills. Nothing was too terrible, but it seemed as though I had a tough time "telling my story" as they put it. In other words I may not have been as clear and concise in telling them about my life. Certainly this a reasonable demand?

The second, more profound subject was that I apparently did not answer enough of the questions with experience from work. These were considered "character questions" in that they wanted to evaluate my, you guessed it, character in a professional environment. I have a major qualm with this explanation. In fact, it irks me that it is one of the reasons I was not chosen.

Let's get more in depth on the subject, including some of my background. I spent four years at school obtaining a very difficult degree (often takes five years) with outstanding grades in my core curriculum. During these years I attempted to, unsuccessfully, find internships in the industry because I knew right away that it would be almost required in order to find a full-time position post-graduation. I can go back and complain about this, but the fact is it happened. I still did work, and I did expand my knowledge way beyond what I was being taught. I experienced some scenarios, but I did not experience all of them. I did get involved in extra-curricular activities where I did gain these experiences.

Now, when being interviewed I do not want to BS them and fake a story from a job because I'm an honest person. So when I am asked about conflict resolution, I will pull it from an experience I actually had that just so happened did not occur at a paid job. However, the effort and responsibility involved should qualify it well enough that it being an employee or volunteer should not matter. However, apparently it does.

The short of it is, I have not experienced all of which these typical "character questions" covered in a job. I have, however, experienced them in other leadership positions. This hurts me because apparently character can only be measured if you're doing math and science. I understand that in a competitive environment, one with work experience in these situations vs one with other experience might have the benefit. I do not believe that a fair comparison is given though. If they believe I am intelligent. If they agree that I've got some comparable qualities. Why does it seem that someone with a poorer GPA, a potentially poorer grasp on the main concepts in the field, a possibly more privileged individual has a better chance at the position just because they had a more industry-driven experience.

Don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying that I'm smarter and better than all of the candidates who are up for the same jobs as me. I rarely get the chance to even meet them. I am just saying that the interviewing process and selection process of many companies are overlooking the slightly less experienced candidates who just might be as well-qualified as any other - or even more qualified.

It could just be bitterness because I had very little trouble in school, yet the people who I helped do better and worked with are becoming more successful. It's also likely that I'm jaded for having spent somewhere around 1.5 years looking for full-time work out of college and have not had any success.

On one final note. I am certainly humbled by my situation. My pride has taken a hit, but I have never assumed that I am always the perfect man for the job. I do put forth effort to gain this ever-so valuable experience. Unfortunately, most companies don't hire graduates for their internships. It puts me in limbo. A limbo that might only be escaped through grad school.

To be concluded.

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