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Engineering seniors see numerous options after 2020 graduation


School’s online master’s programs offer alternative 

Vanderbilt engineering seniors entering a job market amid a 2020 global pandemic have strong allies in the university’s career center, the school and engineering alumni.

“We see that employers are choosing either a wait-and-watch stance or creating remote working options for engineering students with job offers,” said Camila Stringfellow, employer relations specialist in the Career Center. “With internships, companies like Google and other tech companies are moving their internship opportunities to 100% virtual.”

Most employers seeking Vanderbilt engineering graduates conducted their recruiting in the fall, which is the preferred recruiting season. Of those students in a 2020 engineering class of slightly more than 300 who were looking for jobs, many had accepted offers before February when the World Health Organizations declared a global health emergency.

Camilla Stringfellow

“Our employment picture for engineering seniors right now is better than national trends because those employers choosing ‘wait-and-see’ aren’t rescinding offers yet, and the jobs often begin later in the summer months,” said Stringfellow, who reported that the Career Center currently has more than 1,000 full-time jobs and over 750 internships for engineering students posted in DoreWays. Companies include Nestle, Revlon, General Electric, Samsung and more.

Mechanical engineering senior Abbey Carlson is finishing her last semester at home in Florida but her job at Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, is still secure. “I wasn’t slated to start work until the end of July. Depending on the state of the world, I’ll either be working remotely or I’ll be in Huntsville.”

Kate Brooks

Kate Brooks, Evans Family Executive Director of the Career Center, was a panelist on an April 9 town hall webinar hosted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which connects more than 9,700 college career services professionals, 3,500 university relations and recruiting professionals, and over 300 business solution providers.

“The moderator shared results of an ongoing NACE survey of employers and colleges. It is updated weekly because the employment situation is definitely evolving,” Brooks said. “NACE’s employers tend to lean toward tech and business, so their survey results are a good picture of what we’re hearing from our employers.”

The April 10 NACE survey results show that 64% of the 234 employers reporting are not revoking offers at this time; 22% are in the wait-and-see category. Only 12% are revoking offers to their summer 2020 interns.

“The engineering school’s leadership team is making sure seniors receive the support they very much need these days,” said Christopher Rowe, associate dean for external relations.

Chris Rowe

In an unprecedented response, engineering alumni are stepping up. “A valuable component of a Vanderbilt engineering degree is the access our students have to the alumni network. These key leaders in industry and government understand the outstanding quality of our students and they are so willing to provide support and advice,” Rowe said.

“Alumni mentors are eagerly volunteering to host virtual meet ups to answer students’ questions on how best to prepare to enter such a job market and how to navigate potentially rough waters once they do start working,” Rowe said.

Employer relations specialists are in constant contact with alumni and corporate recruiters so it is imperative for students to stay in touch with their recruiters and their career coaches, Stringfellow said. “We are doing our absolute best to ease the impact of the epidemic on students’ careers.”

Typically, 25% to 30% of Vanderbilt engineering seniors seek a graduate program or other post-baccalaureate education. By now, most Ph.D. and master’s programs have made their offers of admission for 2020-2021.

However, if seniors are interested in changing course, some opportunities exist at Vanderbilt and other institutions that offer advanced degree programs online and some with rolling admission dates.

The School of Engineering offers:

Master of Engineering in Engineering Management (online)
Master of Science in Computer Science (online)
Master of Engineering in Cyber-physical Systems
Master of Engineering in Risk, Reliability and Resilience Engineering

Master of Engineering degree programs in chemical engineering, civil engineering, civil engineering (construction management), environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314
brenda.ellis@vanderbilt.edu