(Closed) Alternative career for a civil engineer.

posted 7 years ago in Career
Post # 3
Member
2765 posts
Sugar bee

My dad is a civil engineer and had a lot of trouble getting a job during the recession of the early 90’s.  In the end, he moved overseas and worked in SE Asia.

The big thing we learned: wow, there sure are a lot of jobs available in engineering overseas!  Maybe your DH could sign up for a 3-6 month stint to get some experience, and then try again domestically?

Post # 4
Member
608 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

Are you open to relocation or do you need to be in Des Moines, IA (i’m assuming your living there)?  Relocation might open you up to a lot more options.  Has he been working with the career services at his university? 

Post # 6
Member
6010 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

My husband got his BA in Civil Engineering and is now just finishing up his Master’s in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources (and hopefully passed his PE, but we won’t find out until February).  He works as an engineer at a water/wastewater plant, and he really loves what he does.  Here’s his advice:

If your husband is interested in Transportation and wants to stay in that field, his best bet is to try for an internship first.    When my husband applied for his job, everyone thought they were going to hire a former intern, but my husband kinda stole it out from underneath him.  🙂  Ummm, apparently interning also counts toward the time needed to get your PE, in most states.  And getting a PE is gold because he will have many more possibilities open to him (opening his own firm, doing private consulting work, etc…).

If your husband is still interested in Engineering but maybe not so interested in Transportation, he should look into other fields.  Civil Engineering is very general, so it’s easy to transfer from a BS or BA in CE to another Engineering field (electrical, environmental, structural, etc…).  Either way, it’s important that he get practical work experience, even if it’s in a low-paying internship, if he wants to eventually move on and get a better, more permanent job.

Post # 7
Member
6010 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

My husband wanted to add:  He should look for jobs in the public sector. 

I’ll add that government jobs often have a longer hiring process, but they are typically much more stable and governmental agencies are often hiring even when private companies are cutting back.  We (along with most public agencies in my area) advertise on http://www.governmentjobs.com.  It’s worth a shot, anyway, to check it out.

Post # 8
Member
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

civil engineers are really having a tough go of it right now….but i agree an internship is the way to go. most of them pay a solid $17 an hour, too. Free internships just don’t exist in engineering!

He could do geotechnical engineering, also–the pay is pretty low (mid-40’s around here) but it’s a step in the door at least.

Also attend some career fairs at your university–most of the engineers I know were gobbled up that way.

Also structural is a decent look–a lot of mechanical/civil work can be interchangable (he’d just have to emphasize his background in strength engineering). The Corps of Engineers also hires a fair amount of civil engineers.

But frankly, if he’s being picky about how he wants to work for (ie not Kiewit) he doesn’t really have a lot of wiggle room. In this economy, if he can get on with one of those companies, it’s best to take the opportunity and run with it. Construction is, unfortunately, a major hiring component to civil engineering (although it’s really on the skids right now) and he’d interact with a lot of people in transportation…which could easily lead into an engineering job in transportation. Networking plays more of a role nowadays than it ever did before.

(ETA: city jobs are good, too–a friend of mine got hired in california as a ‘forester’ or something like that, working for the state. she has a civil degree. it’s random, i know)

Post # 9
Member
6010 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

I was thinking of you, ejs.  🙂  Is your undergrad in civil engineering?  You’re a materials eningeer right now, right?

Post # 10
Member
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

No, not at all, LOL. Most of my husband’s friends are civil engineers, though…actually all of them are. They work for companies like Burns & McDonnell, Clayco, etc. I actually majored in chemistry/materials…but yeah i’m a materials engineer. It’s not cross relevant at all, unfortunately. My husband is an architectural engineer, though, which is really similiar to civil engineering, but his focus is on bridges and aesthetics. When i was helping him try to find a job, I got knee deep into civil engineering jobs for him, though, ha!

Project Management is another one, OP.

Post # 11
Member
6010 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Lol, gotcha.

Post # 12
Member
445 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

As a civil engineer (I’m working on my masters with emphasis in Geotechnical..aka dirt) I can tell you jobs are scarce right now..Depending on where you are, public sector is hard hit right now..but it doesn’t hurt to check it out.

I started out as an intern and got hired.  I work 6+ years in the industry now…so if he does want to stay in the engineering discipline, I second Mrs. Spring‘s recommendation to start out as an intern. It is easier to get jobs and once you get your foot through the door, your SO can show management his worth to the company that way. However, I’m not sure with a MS in hands, your FI may not be qualified for internship positions..we typically hire interns still in school or just with bachelors.  And if he really just need a job to tie him over, with an engineering degree..perhaps he can be a professor/teacher temporarily?? I had friends who went that route and they loved it.  Good luck and do continue to network.  I helped a stranger land a job just weeks ago.  He happened to be looking and I didn’t think we were hiring, but when he told me he was looking for a job, I went and talked to my boss and he just got hired as an intern and started just last week. My suggestions, if he has classmates or friends who are working, ask them to keep him in mind when they hear of openings. 

Post # 14
Member
14186 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

If he’s already graduated, he probably won’t get an internship. I thought he was close to graduating.

Unfortunately, most companies want very well rounded personnel. I know that if i tried to get a job today at my company, I would easily be passed up because I didn’t garner enough marks. So if your husband only did football and his degree, i can see how it wasn’t “enough” for some companies. Especially a major company. I do interviewing at my company for engineers and we look for at least 8 different things–leadership on campus, involvement (sports would apply here), volunteering, student organizations, research, fraternity involvement, all that kind of stuff.  It really does play a huge factor in hiring.

Unfortunately, i have set down many, many resumes because the student simply wasn’t ‘active’ enough. If your husband can start doing some stuff now (volunteering for habitat for humanity would be HUGE–a friend did this and it was great for interviews and such, plus she met lots of people in the business basically), that would really add to his resume. 

I just think that companies are getting so, so picky nowadays that you have to have a super stacked resume because if they’re only going to hire one out of 600 people, they’re going to hire the best of the best. Five years ago, your husband would’ve had a job no problem. Today, it’s just not working out that way.

Basically, padding his resume is a smart thing to do.

Also–try a head hunter company like Aerotek. They do contracting type work and i’ve had friends have success with them. it could easily lead to an offer

Post # 15
Member
6010 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Personally speaking, the internships at our plant do not require the employee to be in school, and we have hired recent graduates (both undergrad and grad school); I know this is not true of every company, though.  When my husband was applying for internships in college, he basically typed up his resume and went door to door to every firm in town, even ones that weren’t advertising internship positions.  He didn’t hear from the majority of the firms, but he was offerred two positions at two different companies that were not advertising for interns.  Whatever it takes to get a job, right?

Government jobs do take a long time because the hiring process is so strict, but if he doesn’t graduate until May, a job starting this summer would be almost perfect, right?  If he starts applying like crazy now, he’s more likely to get a job by the time he graduates.  It sounds like your husband just needs some encouragement.  🙂  Try to stay positive and remind him to keep trying, even when it’s discouraging.  He has plenty of time to get a job, and something is bound to come up for him in the next 6 months!

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