Graduate school may not be for everyone, but if you’re an engineer – or planning to become one – you should consider it. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of engineering, advanced study in the field can increase an engineer’s opportunities for professional growth. And, whether you’re pursuing higher education immediately following your undergraduate studies or you’ve been in the workforce for awhile, we have some suggestions to help you make the most of your post-graduate learning experience.
The new “traditional” student.
It’s becoming the norm for today’s graduate students to begin working on an advanced degree several years after completing their undergraduate studies. In fact, according to the Council of Graduate Schools, almost half of all graduate students start their studies between the ages of 24 and 35, while twenty-five percent enroll at age 36 or older. By the time they start grad school, these students have spent at least a few years in the workforce where they’ve gained valuable practical experience.
Consider the bottom line.
If you’re thinking about pursuing an advanced degree in engineering, you’re no doubt weighing the investment of time, effort and money to determine how it will impact your career. Will your salary increase? Should you expect a quicker ascent up the ladder? While there are no guarantees, advanced course work in your field and the opportunity to learn the most current research and technology will certainly increase your value in the workplace – and enhance your career over the long term.
Top master’s degrees in engineering:
- Electrical engineering
- Computer science (within engineering)
- Mechanical engineering
The secret to getting in.
Once you’ve decided that a graduate degree in engineering is the right move for you, it’s time to focus on getting into the school of your choice. Engineering is all about innovation, so don’t be afraid to stand out in your application. Write a heartfelt letter that doesn’t come from a template – you’ll give readers a better idea of who you are and why they should admit you to their program. As for the application itself, be sure to mention any design competitions you’ve won and research projects you’ve participated in (this is especially key for applicants with less on-the-job experience), and, if you’re already working in the field, don’t sell your professional experience short. Graduate schools – especially engineering schools – value students with relevant work experience.
If you are applying to graduate school immediately after completing your undergraduate coursework, take advantage of any opportunity to work in the field while you’re an undergraduate. Depending on the area of engineering you’ve chosen to study, try to find an internship or summer job that allows you to get some practical experience in the field. If you’re a civil engineering major and can’t find a position with an engineering firm, consider working construction – it will provide you with an opportunity to see things built from the ground up so to speak, and get your hands dirty in the process. This is the type of experience that will look great on your resume and graduate school applications, and will likely come in handy throughout your career.
Top doctoral degrees in engineering:
Be a lifelong learner.
Once you have your master’s degree (or doctorate if you choose to continue your studies), don’t stop there. Remember that, even for engineers working in the field every day, it’s important to stay on top of the latest technology. So take a few classes and seminars here and there to ensure your skills aren’t just current – they’re cutting edge.
For more information on how we can help you achieve your professional goals – or for access to our targeted white paper reports on the latest industry topics – please contact your local Adecco Engineering & Technical representative today.