I’m graduating soon! How can I land a technical job?

7 tips for technical undergrads to help stand out to potential employers

School is back in session, and in addition to football games, fraternity and sorority rush, midterms (already?), and all-nighters in the lab, college students are also getting ready for career fairs. Undergraduates just like you are breaking out their suits, resumés, and elevator pitches in hopes of standing out to prospective employers.

But what are these employers looking for in new graduates? What do they ask in the interview process and what are they assessing? How do you even catch the eye of recruiters amongst hundreds, even thousands of students competing for the very same roles?

Meraki has attended university campus fairs for almost a decade. Here are seven tips our Technical Support Recruiting team has learned from our interactions and interviews with students across the country.

1. READ THE JOB DESCRIPTION

Build your resumé according to the position. List your strongest attributes that match the qualifications given. If a company is looking for a strong leader, describe your role in team projects and list your experiences leading others. Proficient in troubleshooting? Outline your time at the IT help desk, list teacher’s assistant experience or relevant internship roles with bullet points under your troubleshooting experience.

The people screening resumés are typically the ones who wrote the job description. Putting in the extra time and effort to cater your resumé to the position will help your application stand out, big time.

2. KNOW THE FOUNDATIONS OF YOUR FIELD

If you are studying computer networking, be prepared to describe the differences between a router and a switch, and how packets flow through the layers of the Internet. The basics of your field are the foundations of a successful career and will prepare you for more complex tasks. The fundamentals will definitely come up during the interview process.

3. LIST PERSONAL PROJECTS ON YOUR RESUMÉ

If you are a software engineer, highlight your strongest coding languages and show not just school projects, but personal side projects you are working on as well. Nothing shows passion like building code for the sake of learning and enjoyment. Bonus points if you list links to those projects on your resumé.

4. COMMUNICATION AND PRESENTATION ARE KEY

Students who show enthusiasm, passion, and ask deliberate questions tend to outshine the rest. Research the companies attending career fairs and approach recruiters at booths with confidence and interest. Sell yourself with clear and thoughtful communication. “Selling yourself” doesn’t mean exaggerating your activities and experiences, but rather thinking deeply about your most valuable traits, contributions, and projects and expressing them clearly and concisely to employers. Lastly, build a rapport with recruiters—we’re there to network and form connections with students!

Another big question for upcoming graduates: how do you approach the technical interview process? It is intimidating, to say the least, to solve problems on the spot, but have no fear — there are systematic ways to prepare…

5. BE METHODICAL

Problem-solving is of the utmost importance in most engineering or technical interview processes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification. Oftentimes questions are broad and open-ended, so from there, think methodically and use a linear workflow: identify the issue, eliminate possible causes, and reach a resolution.

6. AVOID MAKING ASSUMPTIONS

You should refrain from providing misinformation. Though finding the correct answer is helpful to passing the interview, another, perhaps more important, assessment is a student’s thought process. Do you approach problems deliberately and logically? Are you attentive to detail? A good way to avoid assumptions is to walk your interviewer step-by-step through your reasoning.

7. PRACTICE PROBLEM SOLVING

Gaining familiarity and practice will be key to acing your interview. You want to come in prepared, so research typical technical questions, join a mock technical interview session (often held by employers!), and practice answering questions out loud.

We hope this helps in your journey to securing your first real-world job out of college. Though the process may be scary, with the right amount of preparation, self-awareness, and hard work, you’ll be fine!

Meraki is hiring! Check out our openings in San Francisco and overseas in London and Sydney at meraki.com/jobs.