Everyone knows in the world of engineering, the best way to land a full time job with a company is to spend a spring, summer, and/or fall working for them as a co-op or intern. Having one of these positions greatly increased your chance of getting your dream job with that company, but it was never a full guarantee.
However, this summer almost seemed like a full guarantee. It feels like this summer, everyone I know who had an internship, and did not lose it completely, was extended a full-time offer from that company. Why? I have no idea. Maybe companies felt bad that the interns they had promised to bring on were forced to go virtual, or maybe companies were impressed that the intern class they had still persevered at work despite the global pandemic.
Whatever the reason may be, this has resulted in one major trend: companies have far less full-time positions available. The group of students that are going to suffer the most during the job search process this year are the ones who lost their internships. You did everything right last year finding yourself an internship and were ready to head into senior year with a space in your resume reserved for all of the great work you were going to do at your internship. All of a sudden, that space is either blank or filled with a non-engineering position, and your dream company is only looking for interns this year after filling a majority of their full-time spots with interns. Tragic.
So now what? How are you going to find a job with that dream company? This is has been one of the biggest topics on my mind so I thought it would be a good thing to focus on for today.
Let's start with that dream company of yours. How are you going to get one of the very few, if any, full-time positions available? Persistence. Plain and simple. Anyone can go to a career fair, interact with a recruiter or representative, give their pitch, and wait patiently for an interview follow-up. What separates you from every one else, is what you do outside of that. You can follow up with the company representative that you met at the fair, and set up a time to talk with them about positions within the company and their experiences. Ask them about other people they would recommend reaching out to. Maybe someone else within the company who has a position that you don't know much about or one that you want to learn more about. Use LinkedIn to connect with Spartan alumni within the company and ask them for their advice for finding a full-time position. As college students, these actions don't fit with our idea of what searching for a job looks like, but these actions can be the most effective and they will be how you find out about jobs in the not-so-distant-future when you cannot attend career fairs anymore.
Unfortunately, that may not be enough to get you into your company RIGHT NOW (emphasis on the right now part), but that does NOT mean that you cannot work for them in the future. I guarantee you that any company you could possibly think of and has a relationship with at least one of three types of companies, as I like to call them "The Next Three": Subsidiaries, Suppliers, or Competitors. "The Next Three" are going to serve as the professional launch pad that will get you in with that dream company. Let's take a little closer look at each one of them.
A subsidiary is a company that is owned or controlled by another company. It is possible that your dream could have one, two, or even more subsidiary companies. These companies are a fantastic opportunity for you to land that first job out of college and to build a connection to your dream company. Subsidiaries are often times smaller companies, meaning that there will be less competition for their full-time positions, AND they may not have a robust internship program set up, meaning they probably haven't filled all of their positions with former interns.
A supplier is a company that supplies something to another company (who would've thought right?). There are very few companies out there that will design and manufacture every aspect of their product from scratch. They will usually purchase certain components, materials, or products from other companies to efficiently manufacture their own product. In order for this to happen, the purchasing company (AKA your dream company) has to have employees that interface with suppliers on a regular basis. This means that finding a job at a supplier to your dream company will give you valuable work experience to enhance your resume, and it will give you a supplier's perspective on supplier relations, something most companies find extremely valuable.
A competitor is a company that operates within the same market space as another company. Right off the bat, the biggest benefit to working for your dream company's competitor is to spite them! They may not care that you chose to go and work for them, but it is still a nice moral victory to work for the "enemy" after the company you wanted to work for turned you down. Vengeance aside, working for a competitor will give you relevant work experience in the same market space as the company you hope to work for in the future. The knowledge that you gain will be eerily similar to what your dream company teaches their employees, but you will have a unique perspective compared to them. This difference can be a big positive to companies because you bring a breath of fresh air to a workplace that is riddled with employees who were all trained to view things the same way.
Are there other options for employment? Of course, but that is not why we are here. The ultimate goal is to find our DREAM job, not just a job, and using different strategies for interacting with employers and applying to jobs that are closely tied to your dream company is the best way to set yourself up with that dream job in the future. The one important thing to keep in mind throughout this process is... THIS IS YOUR FIRST JOB! There is no way for you to know what your dream job is right now, AND your dream job may be different in 5, 10, or 20 years. You may have a great idea of what it is and that is fantastic! Of course that job is what you should be pursuing the hardest, but it will never hurt to pursue "The Next Three". This will put you in a great position to land yourself that job at the company you have always wanted in the future. You may even find that one of "The Next Three" becomes your new Dream.