Book Review – Career Opportunities in Engineering

By: Cameron

In this post I will be reviewing the book Career Opportunities in Engineering: A Guide to Careers in Engineering, by Richard A. McDavid and Susan Echaore-McDavid. This book is an extremely helpful resource for anybody thinking about engineering or already going to school for engineering. The book is very comprehensive and outlines a wide variety of information on many engineering disciplines. The first half of the book focuses on the major disciplines, which are aerospace, agricultural and biological, biomedical, civil, chemical, electrical and electronics, environmental, industrial, materials, and mechanical. The second half of the book talks about more uncommon engineering disciplines, engineering specialties, and alternative non-engineering careers that most engineers are qualified for. Each engineering discipline summarizes everything from duties and positions to salary and job prospects.

For the remainder of this post I will be summarizing the section in the book about Mechanical Engineering, since that is my current area of study. Hopefully this will give you a better picture of how the book is structured.

Mechanical Engineer

Duties: Mechanical Engineers research, develop, design and produce machines, engines, and other mechanical devices. There is a very broad spectrum of duties a Mechanical Engineer may be tasked with.

Alternate Title(s): Different titles within mechanical engineering usually reflect specialty (such as Robotics Engineer) or a function (such as Project Engineer or Consultant).

Salary: Mechanical Engineers are making between $44,000 to $100,000 according to the November 2004 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Here’s data about recent grads from our own Mechanical Engineering major at UMD.

Employment Prospects: Good

Advancement Prospects: Good


  • Education-Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with training on the job.
  • Experience-Typically previous work experience is required.
  • Special Skills and Personality Traits-Writing, communication, presentation, leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, analytical, and problem-solving skills; creative, detail-oriented, quick-witted, self-motivated, flexible, cooperative, reliable, and persistent.
  • Special Requirements-Professional engineer (PE) license is sometimes required (for consulting usually).

Career Ladder:

  1. Junior Mechanical Engineer
  2. Mechanical Engineer
  3. Senior Mechanical Engineer

The section continues to describe each of these categories, among others, in more detailed paragraphs. Mechanical engineering specifically is just a broad profession that the book covers. Within this same section the book provides the same information for more specific jobs within mechanical engineering such as automotive engineer, HVAC/R engineer, and robotics engineer.

In conclusion, I would describe this book as very useful and informative. For both students trying to declare a major and students graduating soon, this book is invaluable. The book clearly outlines a broad spectrum of professions within the engineering field. One of the nice things about the book is that it’s easy to skim, provides enough information that you can read in more detail if you would like. Overall I would definitely recommend looking into the book Career Opportunities in Engineering: A Guide to Careers in Engineering, by Richard A. McDavid and Susan Echaore-McDavid.

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4 Takeaways for Professionals from “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg

By: Abby

Editor’s Note: We’re welcoming Abby back for a guest post! Check out all of her previous work on the blog from when she was a student.

Last summer I read a book that has stuck with me for this whole past year. The book swept the world and was labeled “revolutionary.” Oprah Winfrey even deemed it, “the new manifesto for women in the workplace.” But don’t leave yet, men! Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a book to benefit all people.

(For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, give it/her a Google)

Lean In

I found 4 quotes/takeaways that can benefit all professionals (college students, recent grads, or even not-so-recent grads):

  1. “So I thought about calling you and telling you all of the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. Then I figured that everyone was doing that. So instead, I want to ask you: what is your biggest problem and how can I solve it.” (Pg. 52)

When faced with the opportunity to talk to someone you admire in a position of power at a company you want to be at… do not be generic. Stand out. That’s what Lori Goler did to Sheryl Sandberg while at Facebook, and it worked.

  1. “One of the conflicts inherent in having choice is that we all make different ones.” (Pg. 166)

One of the things I’ve found hardest while being in the “real world” for this past year is that there is no right path/answer (even though half of my brain still tells me that is the wrong answer! <- see?!). Do not let the “what if’s” take over. The only choice you have is to make the best decision you can and in that, be confident. It will be a different one than the choices your friends make, but that is ok. Lean In says never feel guilty or resentful.

  1. “You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around,” Padmasree Warrior (pg. 35)

There is not an exact perfect fit out there when you’re starting a career. Don’t pass up an enticing opportunity while you’re learning.

  1. “Do not wait for power to be offered. Like that tiara, it might never materialize. And anyway, who wears a tiara on a jungle gym?” (Pg. 63)

Ok… this one is a little girl-specific, and it also has some Lean In inside jokes*. I shared it anyways because I found it to be the most profound. This quote means that you cannot wait to be adorned with the success and happiness you feel you deserve or want. You must go out and achieve it on your own. Promotions won’t (never say never…) land on your lap. Go out and ask for what you want.

*The inside jokes = Sheryl explains that a career shouldn’t be called a ladder, it is more of a jungle gym… as there are more directions that just up in a successful career. The tiara is referring to the tiara syndrome, which is also discussed in the book.

This last quote reminds me of a not-so-fortune fortune cookie I got the other day “Mediocrity is self-inflicted. Genius is self-bestowed.” Go out and make yourself a genius!

There are so many more great lessons in this book. If you have the time (or not)… I recommend giving the full book a read!

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Speaker Daniel Seddiqui Coming Soon!

By: Emily

November is National Career Development Month and Career & Internship Services is helping sponsor a special event that will bring traveler, speaker and published author, Daniel Seddiqui to the University of Minnesota Duluth!

Daniel Seddiqui was a student like us, and after graduation from the University of Southern California in 2005, he was having a very difficult time finding work. In fact, he reports on his website that while seeking a full time position he failed over 40 interviews and became greatly discouraged. After this period of unemployment, he began volunteering and working jobs outside his area of study (Economics) and decided to go on an adventure to explore jobs around the United States. His goal is to travel in 50 weeks to all 50 states and work a job in each state that is representative of the state.

50 Jobs book cover

For example here are some of the jobs he has previously worked:

  • In Hawaii he was a Surf Instructor
  • In Wyoming he was a Park Ranger
  • In New York he was a Marketing Specialist
  • In Nebraska he was a Corn Farmer
  • In South Dakota he was a Rodeo Announcer
  • In Idaho he was a Real Estate Agent
  • In Florida he was a Park Entertainer
  • In Wisconsin he was a Cheesemaker
  • In Arkansas he was an Archeologist
  • In Virginia he was a Gardens and Grounds Keeper
  • In Michigan he was an Auto Mechanic

Daniel is an inspirational speaker as well as the published author of “50 Jobs in 50 States” which gives readers more in depth look at his atypical job exploration journey. Daniel Seddiqui is coming to speak at the University of Minnesota Duluth on November 6th from 4 to 5:30in Kirby Student Center Ballroom and will be discussing what he learned during this incredible expedition: Perseverance, Risk Taking, Adaptability, Networking and Endurance. This event is free and open to students, faculty and alumni. There will be a book signing immediately after this event. This is an excellent chance for students to learn about the benefits of turning struggles into opportunities and appreciate the diversity of the job market in the United States.

If you want to learn more about Daniel there is more information, photographs and videos on his website. You’ll be able to purchase his book prior to the event at the school bookstore or right at the event itself.

Event is co-sponsored by: Career & Internship Services, Kirby Leadership Institute, Office of Students in Transition, College of Liberal Arts, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, Office of Civic Engagement, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Industrial/Organizational Psychology Club, M.A. in Psychological Science, and College of Education and Human Service Professions.

Hope to see you on November 6th!

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5 Characteristics of a Strength

By: Chris

I have a hard time figuring out what I want to do whether it’s finding a sport to play, what kind of a summer job I’m going to look for and, the biggest one, what career do I want to pursue. If you’re like me, then I’d suggest you read this book, “Soar With Your Strengths” by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. If you didn’t know, Clifton is the creator of the StrengthsQuest assessment that our office uses to determine a person’s strengths and where and how to apply them. Now let’s see how one can find and identify their strengths.

5 Characteristics of a strength

One: Listen for Yearnings

What’s pulling you? What’s tugging on your brain saying “Hey try me!” This is the first clue to finding a strength. Things that interest you after reading about it or seeing others doing it are something to look for. If you can see yourself doing it as well, give it a try. You have to be careful though, make sure what’s pulling you isn’t a misleading yearn. Make sure the reason why you want to pursue something isn’t for a false reason such as, wanting to become a manager for the power and not because you want to be a leader, or running a restaurant wanting to make money and not serve and satisfy customers. These false reasons will lead to you having a short spurt of motivation to do something but once you realize it’ll take more work, you’ll soon drop it.

Two: Watch for Satisfactions

Are you satisfied when you’ve done a good job at something? Or are you just glad it’s over and you never look back? Most people who love their job are satisfied with the end results of something they worked hard to achieve. The feeling of satisfaction after completion is something you want because it’ll give you a hunger for more. In a way you want what you do to become addictive in a way. You love it and you can’t wait to finish. Finding out if it isn’t what you want to do is almost as easy. If you spend countless hours on a science project and with the result you never want to look at it again, maybe science isn’t a strength of yours. “If it doesn’t feel good, you are not practicing a strength,” (Clifton).

Three: Watch for Rapid Learning

How quickly do you pick something up? If you tend to pick up a skill pretty fast, maybe it’s a strength. Assess what you’ve done in the past and see what are some of the things you do that you can do without really trying. Whether it be learning a new sport, writing software programs, being able to write a short story or learning a new song on an instrument. Then, you need to figure out if you’re a competent learner, where you learn from reading text books or watching, or a natural learner where you just jump right in and learn as you go. Distinguishing those two styles are important because do employers want a professional who can talk about it, or a professional who can go out and make it happen? If something happens to be something you aren’t picking up rather quickly, no matter how many times you try you just can’t comprehend the information, it might not be that you aren’t smart, it may be that what you’re trying to learn and do is a non-strength.

Four: Glimpse of Excellence

Watch for things where you may stand out. A great example would be sports. When a basketball player scores a triple double in a playoff game, that’s a sign of a strength. What do people notice about you or praise you in when you’ve done something? Are there moments when you outshine other students or co-workers? If what you do causes positive attention, start building on that strength and work to master that strength. At times many people may use negative comments as fuel to become better at a non-strengths and still fail in the end. Work harder on what your praised of doing and don’t put so much focus on what needs improving.

Five: Total Performance of Excellence

When you do something amazing, ask yourself if it seems as amazing to you as to other people. When a track star is behind does he have to think about how much faster he has to run, or does he just run faster? This may be the biggest sign of finding your strength due the fact that others see what you do, as compelling. A sign of total performance is the amount of improvement over time. Even when you’re great, all you want to do is improve because there is always room for improvement in a strength.

Use these five characteristics of a strength to find what your strengths are. The most important part is to focus and work hard at your strengths instead of always putting all that effort into your weaknesses. Spending time on improving something to become average may not always be in your best interest and that time could be spend on improving something to become great. I would highly recommend this book to those of you who are confused at what you are good at and this book will help you reevaluate those things.

We’ve been profiling different strengths all year. Check out the StrengthsQuest category to find out how you can use your strengths for career planning.

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7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By: Taylor

I recently read the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. This self-help book has been around for some time and has even been staring at me from my bookshelf for a couple years. This past week I gave it its deserved attention and found myself quite inspired. It took me a while to get through, but with many notes and concentration, I now know what the seven habits are and how to institute them into my life and work.

7 habits

Below you will find the seven habits and a brief description of each:

  1. Be Proactive- Start each day by hitting the ground running. Take initiative and move! Make your ideas happen and always find the light at the end of the tunnel.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind- Identify and clarify your short-term and long-term goals, but don’t let these ideas be binding if life takes you down a different path. When coming into a new company, ask yourself, “What positive changes do I see being made by the end of the month? The year?”
  3. Put First Things First- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! What items on your to-do list will help you attain your goals? Put the most time and effort into these things rather than the mindless tasks. Creating detailed schedules can help you make sure everything gets done with the enriching tasks having the most time.
  4. Think Win-Win- Strive for compromise and mutually beneficial relationships. Good relationships will carry you a lifetime. There is not much to gain from short-term wins or arguments.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood- Taking time to understand and listen to others will take you a long way. You will be knowledgeable and consequently perceived as trustworthy. Furthermore, since you put in time to listen, it will be reciprocated!
  6. Synergize- Energize groups! Accomplish what no person alone could have. Creating teams with a positive work vibe is critical for effectiveness.
  7. Sharpen the Saw- This habit goes beyond the workplace. In order to take care of business, you have to take care of yourself! Find self-fulfilling activities such as yoga, meditation, or hiking. Also important is healthy eating and exercise.

I highly recommend checking out this book if you are interested in this type of reading! I have done some brief research looking for similar reads and found numerous titles that may interest any character. Happy reading!

Of Possible Interest:

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When “Plan A” Doesn’t Work

By: Annie

Finding an internship is a stressful process, especially when you don’t know where or how to start. People might be giving you all kinds of advice on where to look for openings, how to write a resume, what to do in an interview, and so on. Many students attempt to navigate finding an internship while sitting neck deep in schoolwork and other responsibilities. If you feel like you are walking through a flooded corn maze, you are not alone.

Last year, I set a goal to find an internship for this past summer. I updated my resume, used connections in my network, attended career fairs, and I got several job leads that led to interviews. I was on the right track, right? Well, my search took place during a 19-credit semester (this was a lot for me). Managing my time has never been one of my strengths. It seemed like I was either on top of my internship search or my studying, but never both. Overwhelming myself made for a less than ideal end to my semester. My goal to have a summer internship was not met. It was not for lack of effort, but a combination of many factors. Regardless, I was in need of a new approach for finding an internship (now for the fall semester).

Interning during the school year is much different than interning in the summer. Having the time and reliable transportation becomes more difficult with school and no car.

The first thing I did was sought out someone who could help me modify my plan. Ellen, a Career Counselor in our office, made these two suggestions:

  1. Develop a proposal to create a marketing intern position where I was already working (Career & Internship Services)
  2. Read All Work, No Pay by Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen

The first suggestion was something I had never thought of before. It made a lot of sense because it eliminated my transportation issues, I already knew my co-workers and how the office worked, and there was a need for increasing our marketing efforts. Getting creative about where I looked for an internship is what brought me to my current position as the marketing intern for Career & Internship Services.

The second suggestion, reading the book, was helpful because it was a reliable source that supported many of the things I had heard about internships. As you can see from my experience, there is not one way to get a position as an intern. If you are getting different information about what to do, it can make the process more difficult than it has to be. In All Work, No Pay, Lauren Berger maps out the basic elements of an internship search. From preparing for your search to working as an intern, this book is an excellent navigation tool. The first chapter really struck home with me because it gave me a new perspective on managing my time (something I desperately needed). Having the time for an internship with school and work was one of my biggest concerns. Berger’s clever visuals, helpful checklists, and personal experiences make for an easy, beneficial read. In case you haven’t caught on, I would highly recommend reading this book!

Working as an intern is an important part of transitioning into the professional world, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Set a goal, make a plan, and be flexible to adjusting that plan as you go. Opportunities are everywhere; you just need to find the one that fits for you!

Of Possible Interest: 

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