Entering the workforce is already intimidating. Submitting a mechanical engineering portfolio for a job can be even more intimidating.
Don’t worry, we got you covered with some great tips to help you win over your dream job.
At Onshape Live ’22, we spoke with experienced engineers at Google, Garrett Advancing Motion, and Orbit Fab to get a better understanding of what mechanical engineering executives are looking for in entry-level positions.
Here is a brief summary of some of the important things that we learned from the conversation.
What Skills are Employees Looking for in Entry-Level Positions?
Staff Mechanical Engineer at Google Mark Yerdon started the conversation by highlighting the most important skills that executives are looking for in mechanical engineers. For Mark, the most important skill is the ability to collaborate with other people.
With software like Onshape, collaboration is easy, but students should understand how to find ways where you can collaborate on any type of software since all engineering projects require teamwork.
Principal Engineer at Orbit Fab Arul Suresh also added that traditional technology and design processes should never be completely ignored. Companies still want to see that you can build products from scratch without relying on machines to do all the work for you.
“We want to see that you’ve gotten your hands dirty and built something in your field,” Suresh said. “On your portfolio, you can include photos, links, and provide a cohesive picture as to what you made.”
What Should You Show on Your Engineering Portfolio?
Adding photos and links are the first steps in making a great portfolio that showcases your creativity as a mechanical engineer. Next, you should make sure that you are actually showing the work that you contributed to the project.
Suresh commented on how the academic “we” is useful in writing reports for school, but it is not the best format for portfolio writing.
“We want to see what work YOU worked on. We all know that engineering is done in teams, so we want to see what you specifically did,” he said.
For school projects, it’s probably easy to write about what work you did, but if you had an internship or a project where you worked with confidential or IP-sensitive information, you might not know what you can share.
However, Yerdon came up with an easy and obvious way to figure out what you can put on your portfolio.
“Draw information from online because you know that if it’s already out there, then you won’t be impeding on your NDA,” Yerdon said. “It’s also OK to say that you signed an NDA with this project and just talk about it as much as you can.”
Now that you have a solid portfolio all you have to figure out is how to ace the interview.
How Do You Prepare for an Interview?
The most important task to focus on when preparing for an interview is to research the company. Yerdon said that you should first figure out what the company’s focus is and fully understand it.
Design Engineer II at Garrett Advancing Motion Silvia Famania had a two-hour-long interview with Garrett when she applied last year. She was worried that the job was out of her skill set since she had only worked as a level one Design Engineer previously to Garrett.
However, she took the time to study for the interview and learn about the job and the company as much as she could.
“If you think that you don’t know enough about a topic, study it,” she said. “Don’t just think ‘I don’t know it’ because you will automatically close off an opportunity. If you know you have an area of improvement, work on it.”
After Famania’s interview, she felt great about her skills and credibility for the job thanks to her studying. She’s been working at Garrett for about a year now.
What’s the Best Advice You Have for Someone Beginning their Engineering Career Path?
To conclude the webinar, the three engineers each answered the question above with their own best advice for you.
Yerdon, who worked at NASA before working at Google, said, “Be a sponge. Absorb as much information as you can from as many people as you can. Ask a lot of questions and learn.”
Suresh provided similar advice to Yerdon, but with his own twist.
“Assume you don’t know anything,” he said. “As you get close to graduating, there’s a tendency to assume that you know more than everyone else. That isn’t true! When you don’t know something, ask questions.”
And finally, Famania tied it all together.
“A manager once told me that they would rather hire someone that is willing to learn and keep learning and improving themselves than someone with every single skill,” she said.
Listen to the Full Conversation
For even more information about working as a mechanical engineer and beginning on the engineering career path, watch the full webinar.
Onshape Live ’22 also included many other videos for students and designers, which you can watch on demand at any time.