Skip To Main Content
A Texas A&M graduate being handed their degree at graduation
Sabrina Pardoe ’20 and Claire Riordan ’20 discuss their experience as recent graduates and new engineers. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Graduates walking across the stage are beginning a new chapter of their lives as new employees and new engineers. It is not only a time of great excitement, but also a time of many questions. What is industry like? How do you settle into your new role as a professional? If you don’t have a job awaiting you, how do you find one?

On this episode of the Engineering SoundBytes podcast, Sabrina Pardoe ’20 and Claire Riordan ’20, former students from the J. Mike Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, discuss their experiences looking ahead to life after graduation, as someone who had a job lined up as well as someone who had to successfully pivot and find a career after a bit of searching.

Pardoe, now a rotational engineer for TechnipFMC, was originally introduced to the company at the Student Engineers’ Council Career Fair and a coinciding internship that led to her full-time position, which she began immediately upon graduation.

And while starting a position in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult, she found that putting an emphasis on reaching out to other people and other branches of her company has helped to connect her to those virtually around her.

“Some advice that I would have, especially within this COVID-19 environment, is to put yourself out there,” she said. “Take that extra initiative. It's really expanding that network and building what you can to kind of move forward within the process. Because what I've learned a lot right now is networking is everything. Even when you get into a role, you may be stuck within a group. But don't limit yourself with the group that you're in, expand beyond that and expand your horizon. It may be kind of scary to set up a meeting with someone you've never met or never talked to, but that building of your network is a really good thing.”

Unlike Pardoe, Riordan’s post-graduation plans led her toward a different path than anticipated. She said that when she was searching for her career post-graduation and a job opportunity unexpectedly fell through, she would set up meetings with professionals in the workforce to talk about their market, available job opportunities, where they thought the work was headed and what was valuable to know.

“I think the most helpful thing that I did to help my networking during the career process was definitely the career fair,” Riordan said. “And it was always very nerve wracking to me. And I'm sure that for me — a very extroverted person — it's probably less nerve wracking than for most engineers. But, even just having one conversation where I got someone's contact information or an email and then following up later, gave me a higher step than someone else and gave me connections that I was able to follow up with throughout my entire career process.”

She also said that during the process of finding a career — one that she is excited about, as a technical consultant — and getting rejections from other ones she applied for was an experience that was oftentimes hard to get over.

“It was important for me to remember that, every time I got a rejection or didn't hear back or even got all the way through and didn't get the job, that it wasn't necessarily because I didn't deserve it and it doesn't always have to do with the fact that I should have had it,” she said. “It's just that, for some reason, that time I didn't. And the important part is that if you don't keep trying you're not going to eventually get the right one.”

These comments are part of a larger conversation. To hear more, listen to this Engineering SoundBytes podcast episode on any major audio platform or on our BuzzSprout Homepage.