The Engineering Career Services Office provides a variety of services to help students find co-op, internship, and post-graduation positions. Make sure you get the job you want after graduation by getting a job before you graduate. Co-op/internship experiences make you more marketable, teach you new skills, enable you to make professional contacts, help finance your education, and give you knowledge to make smart future career decisions.
To help you begin your search, we've compiled the following topics to help make sure that you are prepared to embark on your job hunt. Don't be overwhelmed by the amount of information provided; just take it step by step and soon you will be on your way to starting an exciting, new engineering job!
- Create or update your resume. Attend our Resume Writing workshop or review our Resume Writing handout for advice.
- Bring your resume to our office for a review or schedule a virtual appointment Monday - Thursday, from 1:00 - 4:00pm.
- Log in to Handshake, complete your profile, and upload your resume.
- Read your email every day. Remember to check your spam folder for important messages.
- Career Engineer is a weekly e-newsletter generated by Engineering Career Services that summarizes all career-related events & deadlines. Keep your eyes peeled for "Career Engineer" in your inbox.
- Keep a calendar that includes career events and academic obligations.
- Keep track of job descriptions & applications, company contacts, interview dates, and any helpful notes about the process. Feel free to use our spreadsheet template or online tools like TEAL or download an app like Huntr to track all aspects of your job search. (Pro tip: remember to save the text of job descriptions in an email or your files, since links can expire and be removed. You'll need them to prepare for your interviews!)
- Use this roadmap to stay on course each year and think about making a long term career plan.
- Create and execute manageable SMART goals. Hint: Start your to-do lists with verbs rather than nouns.
- See best practices for using AI in career Development.
- Familiarize yourself with Diversity and Inclusion resources to guide your search.
- Remember that career exploration and planning might feel overwhelming. If, at any time, you need additional support, take advantage of The Counseling Center.
Develop Professional Skills
- Attend workshops on the following topics, Find an Internship/Co-op, Resume Writing, Career Fair Prep, Cover Letters, Interviewing, Evaluating Job Offers, and many more.
- Practice your interview skills using Big Interview and sign-up for a mock interview in our office.
- Check your wardrobe for proper interview attire.
- Increase your employability by participating in campus research, competitions, student societies, and more.
- Take LinkedIn Learning or Coursera courses to grow your technical skill set.
- Evaluate your career readiness by learning about NACE Competencies.
- Learn more about skills and competencies to increase your employability.
- Earn a career readiness certification (self-enroll on Canvas).
Writing a Resume
CV vs. Resume
Resumes are documents geared toward industry, non-profit, and federal/government applications. CVs (curriculum vitae) are documents geared toward faculty and research positions in academia or other research arenas. In countries outside the U.S., the term CV may be equated with the term resume. However, in the U.S. there are important differences between these documents to consider. Primarily, these differences include:
- Audience for a resume is HR or hiring managers; audience for a CV is faculty or researchers
- A resume must be 1 page for undergraduates and 2 pages for masters/PhDs; a CV may be any number of pages you need to offer a comprehensive professional overview
- A resume is focused on professional experience; a CV is focused on scholarly achievement, such as research, proposals, publications, and teaching experience
Resumes and CVs should both include organized sections and well-developed bullet points with results/metrics. Neither document should include photos or personal information.
Typically, CVs are reserved for PhD students. If you are an undergraduate who is asked to provide a CV, you are permitted to follow the guidelines for writing a CV, which include surpassing the two-page resume limit and including additional experience that you might not be able to fit into a resume.
Virtual Resume Critiques
FAQ About References
Q.What’s the difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference?
A. Letters of recommendation are typically used for educational or scholarship purposes and are usually uploaded to an application system or emailed. References are typically used for job applications; individuals who agree to be references are willing to be contacted by others to speak about you via phone or email (they do not write anything down). When providing a list of references to employers, you should include their contact information (see page 11 of our Resume Writing Handout for more information). In both cases, you will need to ask individuals (not family members) who can discuss your academic and/or professional skills.
Q. Could people who wrote you letters of recommendation be references; is that too much to ask of one person for the future?
A. It is worth asking the individual who wrote you a letter of recommendation whether they would also be willing to serve as a reference for you. Most likely, they will be willing to do so, since they can easily refer to their letter as a reminder of your qualifications.
Q. How long after a relationship is established could you ask someone to be a reference or from how long ago can references be?
A. It is acceptable to ask someone (professor, supervisor, athletic coach, colleague) you’ve known for at least three months to serve as your professional reference. However, it is also acceptable to ask individuals you’ve known for many years. Either way, make sure your relationship with your reference is current and that the individual knows about your most recent professional achievements and goals.
Q. Is it ok to have references in fields unrelated to engineering?
A. Yes, it is absolutely fine to have references from academic, work, club, volunteer, or other experiences unrelated to engineering. The only requirement is that your reference can speak to your professional skills and abilities (communication, sense of responsibility, organization, leadership, etc.). However, it is always wise to have at least one engineering-related reference, if possible.
Q. What is proper etiquette for staying in touch with someone who could potentially be a reference?
A. Connecting with your professional contacts on LinkedIn allows you to keep in touch with them naturally and keeps you top of mind. Stay connected by reacting/liking/commenting on what faculty members, mentors, and professional contacts post. You can also make a note to remember individuals’ birthdays or send them good wishes on holidays. All these methods will help make the request a little easier.
Q. Once given permission for references, should you notify the reference each time it is submitted?
A. It is not necessary to inform your reference each time you submit an application, as long as you specify that you’ll be applying to a number of roles. However, if some time has elapsed between application rounds, you will want to seek approval each time. Make sure that once you accept a position, you let your reference know, as it is an opportunity for you to thank them again for all their support. You may also want to update your reference once your internship is complete and let them know how it went, as a way to keep your relationship going.
The instructions below are for current students of the University of Maryland. Alumni and former students requesting an official or unofficial transcript should use the forms at: https://www.registrar.umd.edu/former/.
If you would like to send an official transcript to an employer, you may do so directly through Testudo. You will need to know the employer's address. Please note that the registrar charges a small fee for each official transcript issued.
To obtain your unofficial transcript for upload into Careers4Engineers or an employer's online system, follow these steps.
- Navigate to Testudo: http://www.testudo.umd.edu/.
- In the list of web services, you should see and click on Unofficial Transcript.
- Login using your directory ID or UID and directory password.
- Click the blue button in the upper right corner that says Print this Document.
- Print using system dialog, making sure to select Adobe PDF as your printer type.
- After clicking print, save the PDF File on your computer with the file name, lastname_transcript.
To upload the .pdf of your unofficial transcript into Careers4Engineers:
- Log in to Handshake. (Note: Your account must be active.)
- Under the Documents tab, click on Add New.
- Select Unofficial Transcript.
- Under Browse, find your unofficial transcript and select it.
- Finally, click Submit.
- Our staff is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm to help you review your cover letter. Please bring a copy of the job description in addition to the cover letter.
- You do not need to make an appointment.
Whether you are applying for graduate school or a summer research experience, you will probably have to write one or more essays, called a statement of purpose or personal statement. Our personal statement handout will help guide you through the personal statement writing process. Please note our guide on best practices for using AI in career development.
Personal Statement Handout
UMD Writing Center
Graduate School Writing Center
Searching for a job requires time and effort, but if you're willing to persevere, you can significantly increase your chances of getting a great offer. For information about job search resources beyond Handshake, as well as tips on networking and career fair preparation, take a look at the following information:
In addition to Handshake, expand your search by looking at external websites that can help you find internships, co-ops, or full-time positions. We've curated a list of external resources on our Job Boards page.
Still in the career exploration phase? Start here:
Networking is key to accessing the "hidden job market."
The term “hidden job market” refers to jobs that are not widely published on job boards or elsewhere. This is where the old adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know" comes into play. Your connections could help you by alerting you to upcoming vacancies that aren't yet posted publically. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job/internship, especially those in a tech field. See tips for navigating the hidden job market.
Build Your Professional Network
Build your professional network through LinkedIn. Create a LinkedIn profile. Our office can help you by reviewing your profile and offering feedback. See our LinkedIn Tips Handout. Please note our guide on best practices for using AI in career development.
- Watch our LinkedIn playlist.
- Explore LinkedIn Resources for the Job Search.
- Develop your Featured Section. You can upload images, files, and hyperlinks to your Linkedin profile that illustrate your engineering skills through samples. Demonstrate your abilities instead of just writing about them. Learn more about the Featured Section.
- Join the Clark School LinkedIn, A. James Clark School of Engineering Alumni [Official] group, or University of Maryland, College Park Alumni Association (Official) group.
- To get the most out of the platform, you want to actively seek out and connect with classmates, professors, family, friends and colleagues, and UMD Alumni. Instead of sending a generic request inviting a potential contact to be part of your LinkedIn network, take a moment to click directly on their profile, and personalize your message. See our video on How to Search for Alumni.
- Check out LinkedIn's new features:
- "Hiring in Your Network" has a Meet the Hiring Team section that lets you send a free message (it even pre-fills a template) to learn more about job postings related to your connections.
- "I'm Interested" is a button you can find under the "About" tab on a company's page. This allows you to express interest in working for a company without having to apply for a specific role. Once you click the button, recruiters can view your profile under interested candidates in their recruiter view.
You can also check out the UMD Alumni Networking Database Terrapins Connect, which has discussion groups, job postings, and other networking tools to conduct informational interview with alums.
Leverage these platforms to conduct informational interviews so that you can learn more about career paths and industries of interest to you. See our Informational Interviewing Handout.
Plus, check out mentorship opportunities to receive academic and professional support.
Wondering how to network as:
An International Student:
A Doctoral Student:
Employer surveys consistently indicate that clothing is an important factor in the total picture of the candidate. In the same way that you have invested in your education and the preparation of your credentials, you may want to consider investing in an “interviewing outfit.”
First impressions are important. Conservative, professional business attire is best. Avoid anything that will distract an employer from focusing on your qualifications, such as bright ties, strong cologne/perfume, or excessive jewelry. You can’t go wrong with a suit with comfortable dress shoes. If you don’t own a suit, consider wearing dress pants or skirt and a long sleeve shirt or blouse.
Business Professional Attire
Professional Attire Buying Guide (remember to check campus resources, such as the Terp to Terp Campus ReUse Store)
General Tips on Attire:
- Personal hygiene is important. Pay particular attention to your body odor, fingernails, breath, and hair. Consider using little or no perfume/cologne. The interview room may be small and scents can be stifling.
- Hair should be neatly groomed.
- Avoid large pieces of jewelry or jingly items that may be distracting. Make-up is not required, but if you wear it, keep it natural-looking.
- Make sure clothes are clean and pressed. Shoes should be polished, not worn-looking or scuffed.
- Choose neutral colors, patterns, and accessories. Stick to a conservative style and fit. If wearing a skirt, check skirt length when sitting down.
Professional Business Attire:
- You do not need to spend a fortune on designer clothes. Just make sure your suit fits you well.
- A two-piece business suit (with pants or a knee-length skirt) is a good choice.
- If you are unable to invest in a suit, choose nice slacks or a skirt, a coordinating collared shirt or blouse, with a blazer or a sport coat with a tie.
- The only instance in which you should dress casually is when the interviewer specifically tells you to do so. For example, a recruiter may tell you to dress casually or wear certain footwear because you will be going on a plant or site tour during your visit. In this case, go with business casual.
- Some tech companies (especially those based on the West Coast) may tell candidates NOT to dress up for the interview. In this case, you can leave the tie at home. However, DO NOT assume that all tech companies or tech positions respect a casual dress code at work or for an interview.
- If you are interviewing for a company where you know a “business casual” policy is in effect, you should nevertheless dress as you would for any interview.
- In general, or if you are unsure, plan to wear “business professional” attire to the interview to make a good impression and show that you are taking the interview seriously.
In order to impress the employers at your interview, you must prepare ahead of time! Here are some steps to follow in order to ensure a successful interview:
If you don't hear back from an employer, watch some tips for following up.
Congratulations, you've received an offer of a job or internship!
What is a fair salary? How should you approach salary negotiation? Download the Evaluating Salary and Job Offers Handout for advice and resources.
Check out current information on UMD Undergraduate and Post-graduate Salaries.
You can also consult Glassdoor to find salary information for companies. Watch a brief video about Getting the Most Out of Glassdoor.
Browse industry averages on sites like O*Net or Jobted. See more resources on our Career Exploration Page under "Research Degree Programs, Career Paths, & Clark School Employment Outcomes".
Accepting an Offer of Employment
The hardest part of the job search might be over but you still need to make an important decision - so take some time to give it serious thought. Don't accept a job offer on the spot! Make sure you weigh your choices carefully and ensure that you are making the best possible choice for your career goals. If you have other offers pending that are higher on your priority list, contact those employers to let them know about your new offer and ask when they are planning to make their decision.
If an employer makes you an offer in August or September for a summer internship or full time position, you may ask to have until the end of October to make your decision. If you receive an offer after September, you may ask to have 2-3 weeks to communicate your decision to the employer. You can reference the Employer Policies outlined on our website when asking for more time.
Here are some resources to help with your decision:
Remember, once you accept an offer, you are obligated to that position even if you get a better offer later. As always, you are more than welcome to stop by Engineering Career Services to talk through your options!
Accepted a position already? Whether it's a post-graduation job, an internship, or a co-op position, please let us know by filling out this short Job Update Form. And if you've been hired as a full-time co-op student, you must stop by our office (during the pandemic, you can access the co-op forms online and schedule a virtual appointment) to register for the 0-credit co-op class, ENCO 098 or 099!
Once you accept your offer, check out how to prepare for your first job and keep in mind these tax resources: TerpTax and Glacier Tax Preparation (for international students).
Declining an Offer of Employment
If you choose to decline a job offer, do so tactfully and in writing. If you have developed a rapport/relationship with a recruiter, offer them the courtesy of a phone call. Keep in mind these tips when declining a job offer:
Consequences of Reneging
When you accept an offer, you are obligated to that position even if you get a better offer later. Do not accept an offer unless and until you are sure of your commitment. Once you accept a position, you should withdraw yourself from other positions you are being considered for, and stop submitting new applications.
If you decide to renege on your commitment to accept a different offer, there will be consequences. Reneging damages not just your professional reputation, but that of the Clark School of Engineering. Your actions can jeopardize opportunities for other Clark School students. Your Careers4Engineers account will be blocked, and you will be barred from participating in campus recruiting activities until you meet with an Engineering Career Services advisor. You will be required to compose a sincere letter of apology, explaining your actions, which we will review and submit to the recruiter. Future recruiting privileges will be evaluated at that time.
This policy deals with you reneging on your commitment to a company. If a company/organization rescinds its offer of employment to you, please notify the Engineering Career Services office immediately.
Have you seen that the most interesting job postings ask for an advanced degree or specialization? Do you dream of being a lifelong learner? Do you enjoy conducting research? If so, then pursuing a graduate degree might be the path for you.
See our Graduate School Handout
Learn about ENGINE (The Engineering National Graduate Institutional Name Exchange) to join an active database of junior and senior undergraduate students who want to be recruited by over 160 other U.S. institutions.
Professional Licensure PE/FE
The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is typically the first step in the process leading to the Professional Engineer (PE) license. State laws limit the practice of engineering to licensed professional engineers, which means that a PE is required for such things as:
- Stamping and sealing designs
- Bidding for government contracts
- Owning a firm
- Offering expert witness testimony
- Advertising services to the public
Engineers who do not perform the above functions can also benefit from holding a professional license. As a PE, you are likely to reach managerial positions more quickly and earn a higher salary than your peers. See a video from NCEES about the importance of Professional Licensure.
The FE exam is offered in seven disciplines:
- FE Chemical
- FE Civil
- FE Electrical and Computer
- FE Environmental
- FE Industrial
- FE Mechanical
- FE Other Disciplines
The FE is a computer-based exam that is administered year-round in testing windows at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers. The FE contains 110 multiple-choice questions. The exam appointment time is 6 hours long, which includes a nondisclosure agreement, tutorial (8 minutes), the exam (5 hours and 20 minutes), a scheduled break (25 minutes), and a brief survey.
Watch: What is the FE Exam and should I take it?
Registration & Testing Center Locations
Register for the Exam
Testing Centers near College Park, MD:
- 1615 L Street NW, Suite 410, Washington, District of Columbia 20036
- 4350 East West Highway, Suite 525 Bethesda Towers, Bethesda, Maryland 20814
- 1900 North Beauregard Street, Suite 12, Alexandria, Virginia 22311
- 9891 Broken Land Parkway, Suite 108, Columbia, Maryland 21046
- 8391 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 201, Vienna, Virginia 22182
Register for Canvas Review Sessions
Register here to be included in the Canvas Site created to help students review for the FE Exam.
Best time to take the FE: go.umd.edu/besttime4fe
The Engineering Mentor: go.umd.edu/engrmentor
NCEES Exam Preparation Materials: go.umd.edu/nceesprep
39 FE Exam Prep Resources: go.umd.edu/39feprep
American Society of Civil Engineers FE Info & Resources: go.umd.edu/ascefe
National Society of Professional Engineers PE Information: go.umd.edu/nspepe
Free FE exam Study Plan/Guide: go.umd.edu/genieprepfe
Prep FE Study Tips: go.umd.edu/festudytips
PPE Headquarters FE Exam Platform: go.umd.edu/ppehq