Graduate Student Timelines

Industry Jobs

First Year

  • Put together a résumé or update your existing résumé.
  • Create a LinkedIn account if you don't have one, or update your profile.
  • Learn how to write a cover letter and customize it for individual jobs to highlight your graduate education and experience. Be aware that employers will generally expect you to have better oral and written communication skills and a higher level of professionalism than undergraduate students.
  • It's not too late to do an internship! Use Nittany Lion Careers to find graduate-level internship opportunities and apply for those of interest.
  • Invest in a good-quality business professional outfit that you can use for interviews.
  • Participate in career fairs and other career-related events where you can network with employers that hire engineering majors.
  • Join one or more professional organizations in your field.
  • If you're an international student, talk to an adviser in the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA) about any special requirements or conditions you may have to work in the United States.
  • Learn about common interview types.
  • Clean up your social media accounts, removing or making private anything that might give future employers a negative impression of you.

Second–Final Year(s)

  • Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile as needed.
  • Participate in career fairs and other career-related events where you can network with employers that hire engineering students.
  • Use a variety of resources, including Nittany Lion Careers, to search for and apply to entry-level jobs requiring or preferring a graduate degree.

Academic Jobs

First–Fourth Years

  • Put together a curriculum vitae (CV) that you can add to as you progress through your degree program. Ask your faculty adviser for input.
  • Start looking for fellowship opportunities (the National Science Foundation is a good place to start). The application process may take several months to one year to complete, so start early.
  • Build your network. Join professional organizations in your field and participate in conferences, lectures, and poster sessions whenever possible.
  • If you don't already have one, invest in a good-quality suit in a classic color and style that you can use for interviews.
  • Apply for summer experience as a teaching or research assistant.
  • Build your publication record by working with your faculty adviser, other faculty, and other graduate students on research articles and book chapters.

Fifth or Final Year

Fall Semester

  • Maintain memberships in professional organizations.
  • Update your CV with any teaching or research experience and/or publications.
  • Request recommendation letters from faculty, providing them with information about the areas of study and/or skills that you would like them to emphasize.
  • If you are seeking a faculty or instructor position, prepare a teaching philosophy statement and summaries of your research.
  • Collect additional materials that you will need for your applications, including your teaching evaluations, course syllabi, and published papers.
  • If you're an international student, talk to an adviser in the Directorate of International Student & Scholar Advising (DISSA) about any special requirements or conditions you may have to work in the United States.
  • Search and apply for academic jobs.
  • Participate in conferences and workshops to build your professional network. Note that many first-round interviews for academic jobs are held during conferences.

Spring Semester

  • If you interview for one or more positions, send thank-you notes immediately following the interview(s).
  • Discuss job offers with your faculty adviser.
  • Develop a contingency plan if you do not receive any job offers by the end of the spring semester. Consider post-doctoral research, adjunct or one-year positions, or even a short stint in industry—in an area related to your research interests—to build your experience.

 

Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032