The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Phoenix Section, held their annual banquet at the Phoenix Airport Hilton on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. This annual function is held primarily to honor engineering professionals for their accomplishments in the workplace, as well as engineering students receiving scholarship awards. In the past, several Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students have been recipients of academic scholarships. The banquet began with a social hour, which, for engineers working in industry, offers an opportunity to visit with acquaintances and friends who are also members of IEEE. For undergraduate students, such as those from Embry-Riddle who attended, the banquet offers something much more valuable: a networking opportunity.
Internships and jobs are much harder to come by in today’s economy. Adding to the stress, many companies won’t hire graduates who haven’t had at least one internship. This can prove to be a major setback in one’s career as they take the first steps toward self-sufficient living and independence. According to CollegePlus.org, a survey of 2009 graduates showed 80 percent of students did not have job offers before graduating. By contrast, only 50 percent of 2007 graduates were unable to find a job before graduation. Services like LinkedIn can be helpful, but in many cases may only help prospective employers by offering them more information on applicants. Face-to-face networking has been, and remains, the most beneficial and successful method for seeking employment. Numerous media outlets including USA Today, Time Magazine and Forbes have published articles supporting the case.
Meeting someone face-to-face allows potential employers to more easily read a person and form an opinion based on their first impression. Emotion is much harder to convey and understand in digital correspondence; there’s no way to simulate eye contact, demeanor, and fluidity of conversation. The IEEE banquet, and other functions, allows students and new-grads to have face-to-face conversations and make good first impressions. In addition, simply being a member of IEEE gives job seekers the advantage of being part of a well-respected professional organization.
In addition to networking, being an IEEE student member offers numerous scholarship and publishing opportunities. There are student essay contests, technical paper competitions, video competitions, and wide variety of scholarships, grants, and fellowships with awards ranging upwards of $2,000.
Embry-Riddle has its own student branch of IEEE, which provides positive industry experiences and professional development to both IEEE student members and non-members. In the past, the IEEE student branch at ERAU has taken field trips to factories and businesses, including Cobham, and has hosted guest speakers presenting breakthrough ideas and research. Joining the school club is highly suggested for those entering the electronics or computer engineering field. For more information on joining IEEE and its benefits, visit [http://www.ieee.org/membership_services/membership/students] or contact Dr. Ed Post, chair of the ERAU student branch.