Thursday, November 10, 2011

GPA isn't everything

Hello all!

I'm a recent graduate from UC Davis as a double major for Mechanical and Aeronautical engineering. Currently I'm interviewing with multiple companies while continuing to work at the full time job I maintained in college as well as doing research in the Materials Performance Laboratory on campus.

Inspirations for Engineering: I've always been a bit more rough-and-tumble and hands on than most girl's I've ever met. I was always good at puzzles and solving problems when I found any. I spent a good deal of time growing up working on cars or fixing any problems that occurred around the house for my mom. In graduating from high school, I had developed a strong fascination with space and flight, so in applying to U.C. Davis I applied into the aeronautics program.

Developing my goals: As I moved my way through the classes I had in college, I found that I was more interested in making the world a better place than in new and innovative creations. I wanted to come home at the end of every day feeling like I made a difference in the world. Senior year, I met another female engineer who became a close friend who was working in the Materials Performance Laboratory on campus. I was a student of the research professor she had, and realized that this was where I belonged: fatigue testing to ensure the safety of the material. At this time, I transferred into the double major to Mechanical engineering to supplement my Aeronautical engineering. I highly recommend this to all Aeronautics students (it's two more classes for Mechanical as a second major.)

Difficulties along the way: Freshman year I took up a dispatching job in Sacramento in order to help pay for college. I had no financial help from home, and was left on my own to pay my own bills, my tuition, and to help pay bills for my family. I worked full time all four years, would spend free time helping my mom at home with home repairs, and was able to graduate in four years with no loans. However, the major drawback was my GPA. Having a GPA below a 3.0 is extremely detrimental to any engineer, as there are quite a few companies that will not even consider a resume of these "below par" standards. Having a resume handed back is the worst feeling. I felt as though no one cared that I spent the last four years working, not screwing around, as the reason for a lower GPA.

Looking on the bright side: Instead of letting this get me down, I continued to work my full time job and research position after I graduated. Thanks to the motivation from friends, I attended the career fair in fall. This was possibly the smartest decision I've made in college (no exaggeration). I handed out eight resumes at the career fair, and got three interviews, one of which called back for a second interview that I will be attending later this month. None of these companies cared that my GPA was a little lower. They saw my drive and motivation to support myself and stay positive in a situation as unique as mine*.
*Only 0.001% of students support themselves through college without parental or family help and graduate with no loans

For the future: I intend on continuing to apply for jobs that I feel I would want to have as a career, and will continue to attend campus career fairs to help me succeed in that. Remember: every cover letter anyone writes will more likely than not be skimmed, not thoroughly read. Meeting recruiters in person at career fairs gives you the opportunity to really show a company who you are and why you should work there.

  1. I cannot emphasize this enough: GO TO CAREER FAIRS. 
  2. Write a resume and cover letter specific to each and every job you apply to (career fairs do not require cover letters, but make a specific engineering resume).
  3. Be yourself, not the person you think they want (trust me, they can tell)
  4. Join a club or get a research position, even if the position is volunteer. Email every professor you have every quarter/semester at the beginning of the session to ask if any need help or volunteers in their work. Someone will say yes, and it will be extremely helpful when applying to jobs.
  5. Make friends. You may think you can pass all of your classes alone, but being friendly with your classmates will pay off in the long run.
  6. Be social! Don't be shy of strangers, and always talk to whoever you sit next to in class. It's good practice for getting rid of nervousness before interviews and speaking with recruiters.
  7. And finally, NEVER let anyone tell you that you aren't good enough, that you won't make it, or that it will be hard for you to find an opportunity. Instead, use it as motivation to work harder. The harder you strive, the stronger your character, and the more people will want you to work for them.
Best of luck to you all with the future.


Danielle Fogg

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