Published: Sept. 18, 2019 By

On September 10, 2019, over 250 students enrolled in MCEN 2000: Mechanical Engineering as a Profession participated in the fourth annual Careers in ME Symposium, an event that provides second-year students with a window into mechanical engineering careers in industry. Thirty-two alumni and industry partners – both seasoned and recently graduated – spoke on panels, presented about their career paths and got to know students during a networking dinner. The event was sponsored by Phillips 66 and supported by funding of the Department of Mechanical Engineering's Student Experiential Education Initiative.

Students were encouraged to ask questions about both personal and career-related topics, to hear about industries they might not have previously considered and to gain confidence in conversing with professionals.

“This event helped me to realize there are a lot of things that can go into engineering,” one student said. “It’s not only about making things; it’s also about learning how to learn.”

Students said they gained valuable experience talking to people, that the speakers were insightful and that it was useful to hear about the day-to-day lives of mechanical engineers.

Also in attendance were 20 student volunteers, many of whom were student apprentices. During the event, they hosted alumni and facilitated panels. Student apprentices are current mechanical engineering students with prior internship experience who help to guide their peers through the internship search process. This role was developed as part of a new departmental professional development initiative, the Student Experiential Education Initiative (SEE Initiative).

Also part of the SEE Initiative is Design Your Career (DYC), a four-year professional development program for students. Design Your Career prepares students at every level to take ownership of their professional development, engage with industry and navigate the job search process.

In addition to MCEN 2000 and the Careers in ME Symposium, second-year DYC students take a tour of an engineering workplace and attend talks by research or industry partners. Goals during their second year include developing core job search skills, exploring the industry connections available as a CU Boulder student, learning what engineering practice looks like in a real-world context and making summer plans that will support career goals.

“When you’re a student, the whole world is out there,” said one alumnus at the Careers in ME Symposium.  

Lucky for today’s students, alumni – as well as dedicated staff and faculty members – have made it a priority to share the multitude of directions one can go with mechanical engineering as a profession.