How difficult or simple would it be for people to find jobs after college?
Good question Andrew and good for you to think ahead! I suppose it is hard to give a definitive answer since no one knows what state the job market will be in four to five years from now... However, I think its safe to say that if you have great grades, some internship or research experience, and a couple good clubs/organizations/leadership activities, you wont have a hard time have multiple offers to choose from. If you find a way to win a couple of awards or scholarships along the way will certainly help too!
As for what kind of engineering... most programs give you a semester or two to figure it out. I started in Mechanical Engineering and ended up switching to Chemical Engineering after my first semester.
I think for people that finish college with an engineering degree, there is no shortage of jobs currently. Matthew is right that no one knows what the job market will be like, but usually there will be some type of job for a college grad.
A few things that I think are important to learn in college that are very helpful for after college:
1 - learn to work / collaborate with people - I think companies are getting more serious about "culture" and fit, being an expert in a field doesn't guarantee a job offer anymore. My advice is to focus a little bit on kinesics (the study of body language)
2 - learn to learn quickly - what I mean is to pickup new concepts, skills, etc. quickly. Some people are just against learning new things. I've worked with people who are eager to learn more and they always do better career wise. It might be a fear of the unknown, or just anxiety, whatever it is, learn to control it and don't let it stall you.
3 - network - make friends in college, be social, the larger your social network, the easier it should be to find a job.
I wouldn't count on a dream job after college. You usually start at the bottom and grow your career from there.
Agreeing with some of the other answers that have been provided, it is still the case that people who graduate with engineering degrees, generally are able to find jobs pretty quickly. Some of the things that increases the probably of finding a job quickly is an ability to do summer/intern work with companies or schools (universities) that have programs designed for young people to gain experience.
I am writing my advice to you during a pretty unprecedented time...during a time when many companies are rethinking how they hire employees in the midst of a pandemic. Even in these very different times, companies are still looking for candidates with certain core competencies like can the candidate problem solve, work well with others, communicate well. Again what hasn't changed, is the appreciation that hiring companies have for graduates who have put in the work and have achieved a goal. In this case, that goal being completing their engineering program.
I mention the timing of my response to your question because the simplicity or difficulty of finding a job not only depends on the candidate...it also depends on what companies need...and the timing of those needs. That said, I have yet to see instances where candidates with good technical skills that can be gained from good engineering programs aren't quickly gobbled up by good companies :).
Best of luck to you!
This is a great question, but one that I'm going to direct right back at you, because the truth is, while the job market may be in flux at times, what you do, how you prepare, can set you apart from your peers.
You've selected a great field in Engineering, so nice start! What will you do to stand out from your peers?
Get great grades?
Take on a part-time job?
All of the above?
The truth is, interviewers aren't looking for students who just graduate. They're looking for leaders of the future, someone who will put forth maximum effort, has great ideas, and a great attitude.
Long story short, don't settle for the minimum within yourself. Give it your best, and I'm sure you'll be successful
Andrew, it depends on what your major is. People who major in art history might have a hard time finding a job, but the IT, science, and engineering fields offer a brighter future. One way to see which fields of engineering are hot is to check employment boards to see which field you see a lot of ads for. However, you still want to make sure that you choose a field that is agreeable with you. For example, if you don't want to work in the medical field, then becoming a biomedical engineer is probably not going to work for you.