Graduating engineers face a tough economy

Author: Linda Thomas Terhune
It all began with a high school road trip from his Southern Indiana home to Virginia Beach. There, on the side of the interstate, sat a Marathon refinery. Its stacks and columns intrigued Nick Kissel, so much that, when he got home, he researched industrial chemistry and decided that was what he wanted to do in life.

Nicholas KisselKissel mapped out his path to the future, studying chemical engineering at Purdue, doing three co-op rotations with Marathon refineries in Detroit and Texas City, Texas, and setting his sights on becoming a process engineer after graduation in May. He didn’t anticipate one problem — Kissel and hundreds of other newly minted engineers across the country are entering the workforce during a down economy. With graduation only a week away, he still did not have a job offer.

Kissel declined to be as down as the economy, saying instead that he is an optimist and is looking for an internship. He views the free time as a chance to have a little fun and put a spin on the traditional post-graduation vacation by making job hunting a recreational activity.

“Instead of already having a job and taking a scheduled trip after graduation, I will take road trips as job fairs come up,” he said. His first trip was planned the week before commencement, to a Westinghouse job fair in Pittsburgh.

Kissel may have other cards to play if his career aspirations are delayed. As president of the famed Rube Goldberg Competition organized by Theta Tau, he says he gained leadership experience and learned how to interact with corporate sponsors. As a seasoned baseball player and working umpire, he could even head for a different field of dreams. If all else fails, Kissel may find his future on a road trip.