It's thrilling to graduate with an electrical engineering degree, but beginning a job search can be daunting. This guide is designed to help you go from a recent (or soon to be) electrical engineering graduate to landing your first full-time position in the industry. We'll cover the electrical engineering job outlook, career options, and translating your college and internship experience for your resume, cover letter and interview preparation.
How does an electrical engineering degree prepare me for a career?
Engineers possess qualities that apply to a wide variety of industries and career paths. Some sought-after skills you’ve likely honed while earning your electrical engineer degree include:
- Problem solving
- Analytical thinking
- Time management
- Technical skills, like circuit design
Because of the prevalence of technology, finding an electrical engineering career related to something you already have a passion for (besides reciting Ohm's Law, of course) is easier than ever. Typical modern electrical engineering career paths include:
- Lighting and power distribution of buildings
- Telecommunication systems
- Electrical power stations
- Satellite communications
- Information technologies
- Avionics, military and defense
- Artificial intelligence
- Transportation design
- Engineering consulting
- Microelectronics and consumer electronics design
- Renewable energy
Having an engineering degree does not mean you have to become an operating engineer. Other career paths for electrical engineering graduates can include:
- Finance and accounting
- Neuroscience and medical
- Technical construction
Should I earn an advanced degree?
You don't need to earn a master's degree for an entry-level electrical engineering job. However, it is recommended that all graduating electrical engineers in the United States take and pass the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, also known as the Engineer in Training exam and/or Engineering Intern exam. You'll need to complete this exam if you're on the path to becoming a certified NCEES Professional Engineer and receiving your PE license.
In the United States, the NCEES requirement is often associated with building systems and infrastructure planning engineers, along with other engineering professions. Many recent grads overlook the NCEES as a step to getting your first electrical engineering job because it's not required in all industries. Passing this exam may well help you win over your interviewer and showcase your certified electrical engineering knowledge to a future employer.
How to find electrical engineering jobs: the importance of internship experience
Electrical engineering internships are one of the best ways to get a foot in the door for your first electrical engineering job. Engineering students often begin working summer internships after their sophomore and junior years. Technical summer internships are usually paid, 10-week-long programs, aimed to educate the intern on the subject matter and familiarize them with the industry.
Internships are a fantastic method to test out and learn about the day-to-day responsibilities in the field before committing to a full-time job. Internships are also a great way for companies to evaluate future employees, which makes them even more attractive and competitive to aspiring hires.
Bolster your resume with work-study experience
Another great way to gain pre-graduation work experience in a professional electrical engineering environment is to pursue a work-study or similar position within your university. Electrical engineer new grads can differentiate themselves from other graduates by working throughout their education, especially if it is in a research or education setting. To set yourself apart from other job applicants, consider getting a student employment position such as:
- Teaching assistant
- Lab technician
- Research assistant
- General faculty support
Creating an application that will stand out
To land your first entry-level electrical engineering job, you'll need an application that sets you apart from the other candidates. That means a well-formatted resume, a compelling cover letter and a portfolio to showcase your work. Tap into your network by reaching out to your school's career office or alumni groups, and connect with professors and former mentors on LinkedIn. Networking can help get your application package in the right hands.
Here are the components of a strong electrical engineering application:
A resume is often a company's first introduction to you and your work, which means every word counts. Check out our guide to creating an electrical engineering resume that will help you professionally represent your electrical engineering skills and answer common resume questions. We also suggest checking out our Resume Templates, and learning all angles of how to write a resume.
- Cover Letter
Use your cover letter to tell a story and represent yourself in a way that aligns with the future job and your experience. Newly graduating electrical engineers should reference technical experience as much as possible, but the "selling point" does not necessarily have to be technical. To get started writing your first cover letter, put one of our Cover Letter Templates to work, and use our comprehensive guide to electrical engineering graduate cover letters.
When applying to your first job, we recommend collecting parts of your electrical engineering history to reference in a portfolio format. Your electrical engineering portfolio can be a talking point during an interview, which means having paper samples (of digital portfolios) is helpful.
This portfolio should showcase the technical work you are most proud of that directly relates to the job you are applying for. An electrical engineering graduate portfolio could be a PCB that you designed for a project, the data collecting application that you built during your senior project, or even a homemade device that directly relates to the position you are applying for. Your portfolio exists as a tool to help you represent your technical acumen and communicate to the interviewer that you are qualified for the job.
Once you have impressed the hiring manager with your application, you will hopefully be asked to come in for an interview. Interviews for entry-level engineering positions are intended to gauge the applicant's soft and hard skills. To showcase your technical ability related to electrical engineering, interviewers may quiz applicants in either a vocal or written exam.
Write Your Resume
- Consider the best resume format for your particular needs
- Check out our resume tips for recent electrical engineering graduates
Refine Your Cover Letter
- Take a look at our Cover Letter Samples for inspiration on how to write yours
Prepare for Your Interview
- Read the top interview questions for electrical engineers
- Learn and how to be successful in each
Research potential career paths
Our expert Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder tools can help you create an application that will catch the hiring manager's attention, putting you one step closer to your first electrical engineering job.