Future Students & Parents

Floor of Hilton Coliseum during an engineering career fair. The fair also fills the outer concourse and Scheman Building.

Thank you for visiting our website. We hope that the information that we have prepared answers many of your questions.  However,  if you have unanswered questions after reviewing this information, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We would love to hear from you.

Most universities have a career services office, but here at ISU, we have a specialized career services office in each of our colleges.  We understand that the process of preparing for and pursuing professional employment is not the same for all majors.  This office has the pleasure of focusing all of its time and attention on engineering students and alumni.

The Engineering Career Services staff is dedicated to assisting our students from the first day they walk on campus to the day they graduate and beyond. We are here to help students and alumni develop effective resumes and cover letters, learn job search techniques, develop interviewing skills, and provide other career-related support.

Not only do we help students prepare for employment, but we also work very hard to help students and graduates connect with employers.  Employers recruit heavily at ISU and this provides our students a significant advantage in the job search process.  In a typical year, 400 to 500 companies will come to campus to engage with engineering students and attempt to identify the talent that they need.  The employment process is largely about networking; while at ISU, students have many opportunities to meet with employers and build professional relationships that lead to full-time employment at graduation.

Find information on each of the majors offered by the College of Engineering here.


How can Engineering Career Services help?
A few of the services that Engineering Career Services offers include:

  • Seminars and Workshops – ECS offers regular seminars and workshops on job search strategies, resume development, interviewing preparation, and other subjects.
  • Personal Advising – Students can meet personally with a career services professional to have the effectiveness of their resume evaluated, receive coaching on interviewing, or get help with their job search. 
  • CyHire – Career services operates CyHire, which is ISU’s career services management system.  This system has tools for preparing resumes, searching for job opportunities, researching employers and applying for positions.  Employers post dozens of professional positions every day on CyHire.
  • Career Fairs and Other Networking Events – ECS with the help of many students, organize two of the largest college career fairs in the nation.  One career fair is held in September and one is held in February.  These are great networking events and result in over 1,000 on-campus interviews during the day following the fair.
  • On-Campus Interviewing – ECS works with employers to hold between 4,000 and 5,000 on-campus interviews each year.
  • Experiential Education – Career Services administers the experiential education program for the faculty, and works with employers to make nearly 1,000 co-op and internship positions available to our students.
When should a student start working with Engineering Career Services?
  • Students are encouraged to begin using career services early in their college experience since developing an effective resume, professional networking abilities and interviewing skills is a multi-year process. The information and guidance provided by our career services professionals will be very helpful in launching a successful and rewarding career.
  • Five weeks into their Iowa State experience, students will attend the Engineering Career Fair to begin learning about employers and networking with recruiters.
  • To prepare for the career fair, students should attend workshops offered by Engineering Career Services, use CyHire to research companies, and prepare a resume. They should also practice their professional networking skills, such as making eye contact, exchanging a firm handshake, and delivering their introduction (elevator) speech.
Is there a cost to use Engineering Career Services?
Engineering Career Services provides support to students and alumni at no cost.  The one exception is that some special events, such as etiquette dinners (when offered), may involve a fee to attend.

What is experiential education (co-ops and internships)?
Experiential education is learning that takes place outside of the traditional classroom environment.  The main ways it occurs at ISU is through participation in student organizations and through educational work experiences, called co-ops and internships.  Co-ops and internships are important because they provide the student an opportunity to:

  • Make connections between theory and practice
  • Build practitioner skills and workplace habits
  • Develop and demonstrate engineering competencies.

Completing a co-ops or internship is not required for graduation, but is strongly recommended since they are highly valued by employers and increase full-time employment opportunities.  There is no tuition charged during the work period and employers pay students in an engineering capacity.

What is the difference between a co-op and an internship?
At ISU we offer various forms of experiential education.  These include:

  • Cooperative Education (co-op): A semester or semester plus summer of full-time engineering related work experience Co-ops should not involve two semesters (summer excluded) of back-to-back work experience.
  • Engineering Internship: A single work period of full-time engineering related work experience of at least 10 weeks during the summer.
  • Parallel Co-ops:  Experiential education experiences that meet the work time requirements of Cooperative Education.  A student must be enrolled as a half-time student (no more than 6-9 credits) and be employed in an engineering related work experience that encompasses at least 20 hours per week.  A parallel co-op will be at least two part-time semesters in duration or a part-time semester and full-time summer with the same company. We do not allow part-time summer internships.
Does involvement in extracurricular activities help students get jobs after graduation?

Absolutely! Employers value students’ involvement in activities outside of the classroom.

Participation in activities such as athletics, student government, student clubs, and performing arts provides students with the opportunity to work in teams, manage projects, develop leadership skills, and interact and network with other students across campus.

What traits and skills do employers look for?

Generally, employers are looking to hire “T shaped” individuals (we used to say “well-rounded” but “T shaped”  is easier to picture.)  These are students that have depth of understanding in their technical field (indicated by good grades) and breadth of knowledge (indicated by work experience and activities).  This breadth of knowledge is needed to communicate effectively with other members of the team and with customers.

Employers also want employees who show initiative, have integrity, and possess a strong work ethic. They seek candidates who are motivated, detail-oriented, flexible, creative, self-confident, friendly, polite, and tactful.

How can parents best assist their student with his/her career development?
Encourage your student to:

  • Get Good Grades – Below a 3.0 GPA will start to limit employment opportunities.  However, a high GPA alone is not sufficient to guarantee employment opportunities.
  • Complete One or More Internships or a Co-op Before they Graduate – Many employers will not consider a candidate for full-time employment unless they have completed a co-op or internship.
  • Actively Contribute to One or More Student Organizations –  Student organizations provide opportunities to develop teamwork and leadership skills.  Even leading a small project looks good on a resume compared to nothing at all.
  • Attend All the Engineering Career Fairs –  Even when not seeking near-term employment it is important that students take advantage of every opportunity to network with employers.  The more familiar they become to a recruiter, the more likely he or she is to consider them for employment.
  • Use Engineering Career Services – Many bright graduates struggle to secure employment because they are handing out ineffective resumes or don’t know how to present their qualifications during an interview.  There’s no fee to use our services and our advice can really make a difference.
Where can I find information on placement rates and average salaries?
Each semester Engineering Career Services conducts a survey of our graduates.  This information is summarized and posted on the Placement and Salary Statistics page of our website.

What resources are available to someone that has questions about engineering as a career field?
  •  The Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a good source of information about career fields.  It has descriptions of occupations, typical responsibilities, average pay, employment projections and more.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a great deal of other information on its website.  For example, information about the employment density of engineers in a particular state can be found on the Occupational Employment Statistics maps at  www.bls.gov/oes/current/map_changer.htm
  • For those that are already ISU students, another great resource is the Career Exploration Services Office.  They offer a variety of services to help students evaluate different career paths and make educated choices.  www.counseling.iastate.edu/career-exploration-services
  • Talk with an advisor in Engineering Career Services or one of the academic advisors in the college of engineering.

Annual Report

View information about the services and recruiting activity of the past year, including: Career Fairs, Experiential Education, Seminars, and much more!


Useful Links

2016-2017 Engineering Career Services Annual Report
Click to download Annual Report