Graduate's Guide to Civil Engineering Jobs For Land Development
Over my years in management and in the industry, I have interviewed dozens (if not a hundred) of candidates for entry-level civil engineering jobs that focus on land development positions. I have found that nearly every college civil engineering program doesn't prepare engineers for the land development industry. That's really bizarre to me considering how many college graduates ultimately end up in these positions. There is a large demand to fill civil engineering jobs that specifically deal with land development, especially here in Denver, Colorado. With that in mind, I would like to suggest a few points for the newly graduated person looking to break out into this exciting field.
Here's my advice for new graduates to make themselves stand out in a land development engineering interview:
1) Civil Engineering Jobs Require Proficiency With AutoCAD Civil3D
Civil3D is your gateway to an entry-level land development role. Nearly every firm uses the software extensively. Picture yourself in an interview being asked about your CAD experience. If your response is something along the lines of "Oh, I took a class sophomore year of college where a group of us did a project in CAD", you have done nothing to separate yourself from any other engineering graduate in the interview process. A higher level of experience in AutoCAD is needed to perform job duties as a civil engineer which means students should seek more focused learning.
There are several Civil3D specific classes and courses that you can take online as a student. I strongly recommend doing so. A great place to start? Linkedin Learning and Youtube.
2) Find an Internship and/or Co-Op with a Land Development Firm
The candidates who have spent time at a land development civil firm (even if not explicitly doing land development) are the best in my experience. They have exposure to the work environment and almost always have experience in CAD and/or Land Surveying. This is critical to standing out in an interview and can even land you negotiating power for more salary as an entry-level employee out of school.
If you are a driven civil engineering student, call and/or apply to every land development company in town and take whatever offer they give you. The experience is invaluable for your career growth curve out of school.
3) Be Yourself!
If you can't get an internship or any AutoCAD experience, the next best way is to be yourself and not some 'robot engineer'. The best land development engineers and managers are well-spoken and excited about land development. They are also really communicative. Some of the best hires I've ever made were completely green without any experience but came to the interview with an energy that couldn't be denied and they were hired immediately. This advice is surprisingly important in not only interviews but also in your career.
If you follow these recommendations, you will be significantly more desirable in the interview process than nearly all other graduate engineers. Best of luck!
P.S. Our firm is always looking to hire graduate civil engineers who meet the above criteria. Drop us a line!