Today more than ever, the path toward advancement in our careers requires us to change jobs multiple times throughout our 20s and 30s, whether within our company or by switching between companies. Many young professionals find that they need to acquire advanced degrees to be taken seriously and to move in to management or higher levels of technology. AIChE prides itself on being a one-stop resource for the developing chemical engineer, and career advancement is a large part of this. I sat down with Camille Belcuore, one of AIChE's experts on career resources to see what the Institute has to offer.
AIChE career resources
Camille advises that the young chemical engineer work to constantly improve his or her offerings to a potential employer. Then, when he or she is ready to make a switch, they will be in the best position to compete against other job applicants. Her primary advice is to stay current on technical issues through the use of AIChE's publications and webinars on ChemE on Demand. She also recommends that young professionals dedicate some time each week to developing and maintaining relationships with other engineers, through AIChE's technical societies, divisions, and forums, as well as your local section. If you are not near an active local section, consider starting one or joining the Virtual Local Section.
Keep online profiles up to date
The next step is to keep a clean and active online profile. Even if you are not currently looking for a job, more employers are using LinkedIn to do in-house head hunting, and hearing from them may cause you to rethink your current position. You should join industry-related groups on LinkedIn and keep your city/state accurate to be exposed to the best opportunities. And, of course, clean up your Facebook so that it doesn't have questionable material, whether or not it is locked down to just your friends.
Check out Career Engineer
When you are ready to start looking for a job, visit Career Engineer, AIChE's online job board. Build a profile and employers will be able to find you by searching for relevant keywords. Note that profiles are purged after six months so you (1) have to update your profile relatively frequently, and (2) will only be competing against others who are actively looking. Note that there is a job board for internships and for full time offers. Full time submitters are also searchable from the internship side, but not the other way around.
Be sure to check out AIChE's twice-yearly Online Career Fairs. Participation in these fairs is included in your membership and they are attended by dozens of chemical engineering companies.
Finally, some advice for the unemployed or graduating student. Camille recommends you take whatever you can get in the short run. Doing anything meaningful is better than doing nothing, and internships can give you the foot in the door necessary to become full time.
Do you have any other comments for Young Professionals? Disagree with any of our suggestions? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.