Navigating the Professional World–Choosing the Best Job for You

By Natalie Keller
IIE Young Professional Chair
B.S., industrial and systems engineering, University of Florida, 2010
As a recent graduate, your first job out of college is really important–it can have a great impact on the future of your career path. However, you should know you can and will most likely (based on recent statistics) change your career many times. Feel free to leverage these questions and thoughts as you enter the job searching process, whether you’re an upcoming graduate or a young professional looking for an early career move.
1. Company – Most college students are drawn to the companies they recognize and know are good employers. This is probably the biggest factor in the initial job search thought process. A couple things to think about: Do you want a big versus small company? What is the company’s current state/plans for future growth? How are they performing financially? How stable/developed is the department you will enter? What are the company’s values and culture?
2. Type of Work/Role – Do you want Industrial Engineering depth or Business/Management/Leadership breadth. Do you want to further develop the skills most closely aligned with what you learned in school? Do you want a broader learning experience right out of college? An IE role or operational position may be best if you want to get functional depth, while a rotational program may be a better choice if you don’t have a particular IE specialization or industry you are truly passionate about yet and prefer to experience a variety of positions early on.
3. Industry – There are increasingly more fields Industrial Engineers can enter into right out of college. Manufacturing and supply chain companies are still at the core, with the service industry and consulting roles becoming more prevalent. You may also consider the rapidly growing heathcare field or an entrepreneurial start-up environment.
4. Personal Values/Lifestyle (location, benefits, compensation, etc.) – By and large, you want to ensure you are meeting your own personal values and needs. What’s important to you? What external conditions affect your well-being? Do you want to be close to your family or live in a big city? How important are salary, benefits, cost of living?
As a fresh IE graduate, you have the world at your fingertips. Honestly, you are in a very unique situation where it is completely okay for you to ask questions, challenge the status quo, and bring fresh ideas into any industry! It is also a great time to leverage the network you’ve built at your university and throughout IIE. I encourage you to reach out to your peers and other young professionals to hear what they based their career decisions on. You can also contact the IIE Young Professional Chair for your region as an additional resource or myself at