“Companies want thinkers, problem-solvers, communicators and people who can be taught new skills,” said Nicole Van Den Heuvel, director of the Center for Career Development. “They understand the value of a Rice education.”
Many of those companies are also looking for engineers, as evidenced by the steady stream of energy, oil and gas, engineering and data science companies that routinely schedule information sessions at Huff House, the CCD’s base, to talk to Rice students about opportunities available with their organizations.
In addition to inviting these companies on campus, the team at the CCD offers an array of services to students, including assisting with résumé writing and creating LinkedIn profiles, help with securing internships and navigating job offers, and developing other professional skills.
Senior mechanical engineer Steven Smith found his summer internship as a machinery intern in upstream facilities at ExxonMobil’s campus in The Woodlands through a listing on the CCD’s RiceLink. He also attended an information session with the company.
“I recommend students use the CCD,” he said. “Go to the information sessions. Complete online applications—and write a cover letter. Companies will take you more seriously if you write one.”
This week, the CCD hosts its annual Career and Internship Expo, and Van Den Heuvel said it’s not just for seniors.
“More and more companies want to develop and source talent before your junior year,” she said about encouraging underclassmen to attend. “You’ll be surprised how many will want to talk to you. It’s a great opportunity to practice your pitch, ask questions, explore what’s out there and make contacts now and for the future.”
Smith agrees. After the information session with ExxobMobil, he completed the company’s online application and was accepted for the internship. He spent his summer in ExxonMobil’s liquid natural gas plants, investigating the possibility of eliminating suction drums from the boiling off gas compression units and modules , and working on a second project, implementing online surveillance screens to monitor the health of a plant in Wyoming.”
“I was really impressed with the people I got to work with, and that I was involved in big, multi-billion dollar projects,” he said of his experience. “They really gave me freedom to find my own solutions.”
They also gave him a job offer, with a start date of August 2017. He has until the end of October to decide if he wants to join the company full-time as an upstream engineer, which would mean a six-month assignment in the field, before a permanent placement.
As he figures it out, he’s continued to work closely with the CCD.
“They’ve helped me think about negotiating, and whether I should look at other opportunities that might be out there, even though this is a solid offer,” he said.”
Van Den Heuvel stresses to students that the CCD is a valuable resource, and that it takes time to develop contacts with companies to find future opportunities.
“Take advantage of the companies that come on campus, that post jobs and internships through the Career Center, that have relationships with faculty, that come to the EXPO!” she said. “And then complement that with networking, doing your research on the companies, and going beyond and outside of Rice.”
All of that, she said, might help other students achieve the same sort of job-offer success Smith is enjoying now.