Career Field - Engineering & Computer Science - Frequently Asked Questions
Employment outlook is determined by supply and demand - for engineering and physical science fields it is considered to be excellent. Just like the economy, the market for new college hires has steadily increased over the last two years. During this job market upswing, employers are still selective when they recruit college students and it is important to prepare well for your interviews. Also, it is wise to adopt various job search strategies including starting early, being more flexible, utilizing a variety of approaches and resources, and seeking advice and support from other people.
Typical paths include engineering positions, e.g., research, design, software/product development, manufacturing, process, testing, quality assurance, project management, applications, customer support, & sales. Also, all technical employers need future leaders and managers and will hire students directly into management or into a technical position and track them for a future management opportunities. Other paths are more business related including consulting, business/investment analysis, and financial services with technical and non-technical organizations. Teaching and working with nonprofits and government agencies will continue to remain viable paths to consider.
Employers seek students who have a solid understanding of engineering, CS & physical sciences concepts/principles and are capable of applying them to solve technical problems that arise in the workplace. In addition to problem solving skills, employers seek applicants with strong interpersonal and communication skills. Your success on the job is determined in large part by your ability to develop appropriate working relationships with co-workers and your ability to communicate both verbally and in writing, your great ideas and recommendations. It is also important to be a strong team player because in technical settings, projects are often completed by work groups.
A bachelors, masters or a PhD degree in an engineering field (Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial & Operations Research, Civil & Environmental), computer science or physical sciences (chemistry, physics, etc) are sought by recruiters visiting the campus and/or listing jobs. In the information industry and computer related fields, employers focus more on the skills you have developed (e.g. specific software languages); major is not as important. They will consider minors in CS and other majors such as Cognitive Science, Math, Statistics, SIMS, etc.
A bachelors degree is considered sufficient training for an entry level professional position in these fields. Though not a strict requirement, technical summer and internship experiences will appeal to hiring employers because it provides an opportunity to assess how you function in a technical work environment. Employers will also be interested in your non-technical work experiences to determine skills you developed that can be useful in any work environment. Lab coursework or work with a professor is highly regarded and will be viewed as applicable experience in your field. Also, class projects provide further demonstration of your abilities to utilize your education in a practical ways
In any comprehensive job search, it is important to use a variety of strategies in order to be exposed to the full range of possible employment opportunities. Participate in OCR, the on-campus recruiting program for interviews conducted at the Career Center. Also, monitor Handshake for current job openings that target Cal students, attend the various Career Fairs to interact with employers interested in attracting Cal students. Research industries and employers that interest you and approach them directly to be considered for an entry-level job. Network with family, friends, professors, GSIs, neighbors, landlords, and with others you know by asking them if they have any advice they can give you in your job search and if they know people in your area of interest.