June 15, 2021
“Creativity and Grit: Coping with a Difficult Job Market,” one of the presentations at the 2020 AIChE Annual Student Conference, communicated the importance of technical aptitude, leadership capability, soft skills, and hard work in figuring out one’s next step after graduation. Andrea Wright, a chemical engineer with ExxonMobil in Baytown, TX, spoke on this subject from her own personal experiences. When evaluating a candidate, recruiters are looking at three main categories: technical ability, leadership, and teamwork and service while constantly asking themselves the question, “Will this person make my team better?”
Since GPA is the most widely accepted indicator of technical skill, students with lower grades must be able to explain to interviewers any of the challenges that contributed to their lower GPA’s. Internships and work experiences can also be used to communicate one’s technical skills while also showing how well one works in a team environment. Since many internships were canceled due to COVID-19, students can also pull from school projects and classroom learning to convey technical prowess. When speaking on one’s leadership initiative, it is not enough to merely state the organizations in which one invests his or her time. Students must be able to speak to their personal contributions to improve those organizations to truly impress recruiters. Service is a category that allows students to elaborate on their passions, so they should seize the opportunity to discuss service projects in which they have been involved (e.g., food banks, STEAM outreach programs, hurricane relief efforts, etc.).
As a parting word, Ms. Wright encouraged students to be open to unexpected possibilities throughout their career, since every steppingstone prepares one with new skills and experiences to ready oneself for the next jump.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”
– Angela Duckworth
By: Nancy Usey