Where can I look to get real-world experience?
I am a college student, declared in the electrical engineering major. I don't have a 3.0 at the moment but I would like to work in a field specific to my major and skills that I have acquired. Do you have any suggestions what kind of companies or places hire students with a GPA around 2.5?
Don't apologize for your GPA. You might have a good story - like I was working while attending college and I know I'm smarter than a 2.5 but I had to support myself and education. When people hire, they want to feel confident about you. If you doubt yourselt, they will doubt you too and not hire you.
I was an Electrical Engineer in college (before switching to Computer Engineering) and it is so tough. Hang in there! I had your same GPA (and even lower at times) around the end of sophomore year and it was so discouraging, but I have a great job now in my field (although my field is software engineering now).
If you are set on EE, then keep at it, and let's find you an internship.
I recommend going to every career fair you can find, and talking to every company you can find. Unfortunately there are a lot of companies which will see your GPA and that will be the end of it (I know because I've watched people look at my GPA on my resume and immediately tune out, if not turn me away). Fortunately, there are some companies that will put a lot less emphasis on GPA, and a lot more emphasis on you. I've found that in most cases these are the companies that I would actually want to work for. Your job is to keep handing out your resume until you find them.
Here are a few tips for interviews in general, to help companies to see you as more than a GPA.
Take time to reflect on your experiences in school, and then use those experiences to show prospective employer's what kind of worker you would be. Who do you like to work with, what makes a good group project team, what professor's do you like and dislike, and why?
Practice the social aspects of interviews, smile, be friendly, be confident and PROUD of your time at school (GPA be damned).
* Answer for yourself: why is my GPA low? For me it was a combination of lack of motivation early in my school, and the shear difficulty of the major (have you hit your signals class yet, LaPlace got you down? lol).
For me, landing the internship that eventually led to my job occurred when I finally owned my GPA. I accepted that I had slacked off early on, and I changed my study habits for the last couple years of school. I also accepted that the major was hard, and gave myself credit for all the things I was able to accomplish. This acceptance led to confidence in myself - I could walk into interviews and be proud of my time at school, instead of ashamed or embarrassed by it. This is what most interviews will pick up on.
Persevere - Keep handing out resumes. Don't get discouraged. Its especially helpful to hit the career fairs earlier in the school year.
Be Proud - a 2.5 GPA in EE is nothing to be worried about. You're doing great in life, so show that to these companies.
Practice Interview Skills - Smiling, being friendly, not being a nervous wreck all help tremendously in interviews. Also in my experience, its the companies that base hires more on interviews than resumes that are the most gratifying to work for.
Hope this helps, and feel free to follow up with more questions,
I'll answer about what I know and what I know is consulting engineering. A consulting electrical engineer designs buildings and produces blue prints (we now refer to these as construction documents). Electrical engineering students can often get part time or full time summer intern jobs at design firms IF the student knows CAD. The vast majority of consulting electrical engineering firms use AutoCAD although many are switching to Revit and a few use MicroStation. I suppose there are a few that use others perhaps on the Mac platform but they are few and far between.
So...if you learned how to use AutoCAD, a design firm would likely be willing to take you on part time or as an intern. There you would be working with CAD jockeys and engineers on a day-to-day basis seeing what life is like for them. It can be very exciting to be involved in the design of a major building. Even small office building projects have their own charm. The secret is knowing how a building gets built so, if you have ever performed or been around construction, you will have a leg up on things. If you've never been around construction, have zero CAD knowledge, and no interest in designing buildings, then perhaps this information can be applied to another realm of electrical engineering.
I knew one EE graduate that our firm hired. His knowledge of CAD and of electrical construction was absolutely zero. He had never used AutoCAD, didn't know what the National Electrical Code was, knew nothing about conduit, wire, devices, light fixtures, generators, or panels. I couldn't figure out why on earth he came to work at a design firm. Well guess what? He went on to become one of the better consulting engineers that I know even though he was starting from scratch. Who knows? You may discover you have a knack for CAD and construction work. Your tool box may have a laptop, laser tape measure, and a hard hat. Could be an interesting combination!
First of all give yourself a pat on the back. You are surviving one of the hardest majors in college. Engineering is no joke. So major props to you. Be proud of that.
I have a lot of friends who are engineering majors they have a "low gpa," and they are some of the smartest people I know and they have internships. It's often really difficult to maintain a high gpa as an engineer because of the rigorous course load. If you can prove that you can do the work, employers will recognize that. Do you have any sample work or projects you have? Show it. Have somewhere you can put your work online if possible.
I am not sure where you live but check if there are engineering internships where you live (there tends to be a lot if you live in or near by a big city!) Go to glassdoor.com, linkedin.com, themuse.com, angel.co. These are all good resources to look for internships and jobs. Good luck, I wish you the best!