IEEE Smoothes Student Path to World of Work

IEEE can’t make all of student members' problems disappear, but it can help, thanks to a new trio of benefits

5 September 2008

s2With all the tough homework, along with little career counseling, being an engineering student isn’t easy. IEEE can’t make all the difficulties disappear, but it can help, thanks to a trio of benefits introduced for student members. You now get a boatload of software, career advice and, when you graduate, help with managing your transition to working engineer.

SOFTWARE SPECIAL A partnership with Microsoft gives student and graduate student members more than US $2000 worth of software free.

About one week after you join or renew, IEEE will e-mail you a link and instructions for downloading any—or all—of more than 90 Microsoft software packages, including the company’s latest operating system in its Windows Vista Business edition, the Expression Web design tool, and Project 2007 for project management. Other freebies include Visio 2007 and Windows Server 2003.

The Microsoft offer grew from a partnership formed last year with the IEEE Computer Society that offered the software to the society’s members. After seeing the popularity of the offer, Microsoft extended it to all IEEE student members.

CAREER TIPS As graduation approaches, you are likely to have many questions about moving into the world of work, including what to include on a résumé, how to negotiate your starting salary, and how to land that dream job. IEEE Potentials—the student member magazine—can help answer such questions with its increased coverage of career-related topics. The July/August issue unveiled a new column, called “My First Job,” in which IEEE members reflect on their careers and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Potentials is very interested in IEEE members’ perspectives so we can give our student readers insight about how to approach their internships, first jobs, and careers,” says Member Suzanne Rivoire, editor in chief of the publication.

For the inaugural column, IEEE Fellow Karen Panetta, chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee and an EE professor at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., talked about the value of teams. “The most important thing I learned in my first year on the job was how important a good team is in developing successful engineering projects,” she writes. “I also learned that individuals with the best grades in college didn’t necessarily make the most successful engineers.”

The May/June issue was devoted to career-oriented articles. “Looking to the Future,” by managing editor Craig Causer, offered advice on how to ask for the “right” salary. The article included a survey of the median salaries of professionals in various engineering fields and tips to help negotiate the salary you think you deserve. The issue also featured articles on the skills needed to climb the management ladder and how to become expert at troubleshooting problems quickly.

NETWORKING Taking the big step from student to professional is a lot easier if you have a network of colleagues to help you along. That’s why continuing to belong to IEEE after you graduate is so important, says IEEE Member Megha Joshi, GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) representative to the IEEE Student Activities Committee.

For example, the Mentoring Connection, an online service, can connect young professionals with seasoned volunteer mentors who can guide them through the challenges they face as working engineers. And IEEE memberNet—an online social network similar to Facebook—can connect you with members who may, for example, share your technical interests, have the same alma mater, or belong to the same technical society.

To explain the working world to student members and introduce them to networking, this month IEEE launched the Student Transition & Elevation Partnership (STEP) for sections, societies, and GOLD affinity groups. The organizations plan to hold workshops and events with professional engineers for graduating student members. One such event is a reception for the new grads that features talks by prominent engineers about their careers. The idea is to introduce students to a network of engineers and IEEE volunteers ready to offer career advice and help in finding jobs. Also planned are information sessions about the benefits of being 
an IEEE member.

“STEP fulfills student members’ needs for career guidance and networking” and is a way for IEEE to grow its membership, says Joshi, who oversees the program. And of course, IEEE offers other benefits including discounts on technical conferences and access to the IEEE Xplore digital library.

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