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Author Topic: Do you get better job prospects if you graduate from a top engineering school?  (Read 31916 times)
1smartengineer
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« on: September 03, 2009, 12:31:46 PM »

US News and World report recently published their list of the top 10 engineering graduate schools in the USA. This year’s list contain some of the usual contenders plus several other newcomers.

   1. MIT
   2. Stanford
   3. University of California – Berkeley
   4. Georgia Institute of Technology
   5. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
   6. Carnegie Mellon University
   7. California Institute of Technology
   8. University of Southern California
   9. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  10. University of Texas – Austin

So this brings up another interesting discussion as it pertains to engineering education,

  • Do you think that having a degree from one of the top schools really makes a difference to your career prospects?
  • While on-campus recruiters may value the top schools and routinely offer the best jobs to the best graduates, once you’ve left your first job, does the school you attended still matter?

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Badger
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2009, 06:22:55 PM »

The school you graduated from makes no difference at all unless the people involved in the hiring process went to that school!  Then you have an edge even over those applicants who went to a higher ranked school.  No one likes to admit the fact that it isn't WHAT you know or WHAT you can do, it's WHO you know and WHO knows YOU that makes the biggest difference by far in getting a job.  All the great vaunted degrees, certificates and boring courses taken amount to squat if no one knows you at the place you apply for work. 
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1smartengineer
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2010, 03:10:35 AM »

I agree with Badger.
The school you graduated from only matters when an alumni is involved. I am a Clemson graduate and I have a feeling that I was hire because my boss' daughter goes to the same school.
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m9ro6
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 08:48:40 PM »

It absolutely matters! Think about it. How do you perceive someone that went to MIT versus someone that went to the College of the Americas online? The people hiring you make those same judgements. As you gain experience, where you went to school becomes less of a factor in getting hired. But don't fool yourself: your intelligence and capabilities will be judged, right or wrong, through the prism of your alma mater your entire career. Does that mean someone who went to a lower ranked school can't be a better engineer than an MIT grad? No. There's no evidence of that. It just means there's an edge to having a better name brand.
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1smartengineer
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2010, 05:22:31 PM »

m9ro6,
My question was really aimed at figuring out how much weight should be placed on experience vs. education.

If you feel that by going to mediocre school A would provide a much needed experience and knowlege, then I do not believe you should be penalized if you are competing with someone who went to a higher ranked school B.

While you might argue that attending a highly ranked school is a indication of your intelligence, I do not believe that it entirely defines the type of an engineer you will be. 

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m9ro6
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2010, 10:12:31 PM »

My grandfather was a draftsman that worked his way up to become a professional engineer, and, eventually, ran his own company. If you are ambitious and smart, where you went to school (or didn't) won't stop you.

You say you shouldn't be penalized for going to a mediocre school, but that's just reality. You will be, regardless of whether it's right or not. You can't wish away perceptions or eliminate human nature.

And it's not like those schools' reputations are unwarranted: they get their pick of great students, competition is fierce, and the standards are higher. Consequently, only the best and brightest tend to graduate. That's why employers recruit there.
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admin
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2010, 12:11:41 AM »

Very good point.
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michael.brit
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2010, 09:05:51 PM »

In general we have found that the school you go to may have
some small bearing for entry level engineers in some fields.
For example in fields that are highly scientific and quantitative
in nature MIT or Stanford degrees help.

However things like extra curricular projects, design projects,
internships and other such experiences really matter more than
the school. Unless there is some type of parochial attachment to
a school due to several managers attending that school (we
have seen that too).

As your career progresses (past the first 3-5 years) it will
matter less and less.

It doesn't hurt to go to a top school but that is not a ticket to
a job in any way.

Michael Brit
Engineering Resume Specialist
www.engineer-resume.com
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