One of the most important steps in your career development is gaining experience. We often immediately think of internships, but there are a ton of ways to gain technical and interpersonal skills that employers are looking for! Thinking about going to graduate school? Various types of experience looks great to them too!

Did you know that there is someone here to help you navigate all of this? Hi, I’m Maddie FosterI work with engineering students to figure out what experience is best for you and prepare you for those opportunities to be the best candidate possible. Check out these different experiences below, then make an appointment to discuss your personal career goals with me. 



This is probably one of the most overlooked experiences for engineering students. Yes, employers want to see that you have the technical skills they need for you to be competitive for an internship, but how do you stand out from everyone else learning the same skills you are? Join a student org, take the leadership challenge, or look outside of your engineering courses to expand on those interpersonal skills. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Here are some student organizations that have partnered with Career Services:

Don’t want to join a student org but still want to practice some leadership, here are some other ideas:

  • The Leadership Challenge - Offered quarterly and includes a 360-degree leadership assessment, one-on-one coaching, and engaging leadership training.
  • Technology Management Program - Take classes like Leadership for Teams and Talent, Entrepreneurship, and Business Strategy and Leadership.


What would your time at UCSB mean without a little bit of research? I mean, we are a research institution…

But really, why is research so important? Well, if you are planning to continue on to graduate school (especially in a PhD program), participating in research gives you a hands-on experience with what that world looks like. You will see the lives of graduate students unfold in front of your eyes and, if you are still deciding if you want to go to grad school, this could help you make that decision. Either way, you will walk away with great references or writers for your letters of recommendation and continue to grow your network.

Research also allows you to practice those technical skills you are learning in class, outside of the classroom. You may learn something new that your classmates don’t know, or become proficient in a skill that others are just beginners.

You’re probably thinking, “Where do I even begin?” Good question! Research. Literally. Research the research happening on campus. Check your department website. On all of them, there is a research tab. What sounds interesting to you? What do you want to learn more about? Then, reach out (via email or in-person) to those professors and talk with them about their research. THEY LOVE IT! See if they have a spot in their group or lab. Feeling overwhelmed by this idea? Come talk to me about it. We can draft an email or discuss what you are going to say.

Want something a little more organized? UCSB offers a variety of research programs! Some are over the whole year, some are over summer. Here are some resources to check out:


Where to begin with internships… there are a TON of websites and resources out there for you to gain an internship. Here are my top picks:

  • Handshake – duh! It is where Career Services tells ALL employers to post their positions! It also uses machine learning to suggest internships that fit YOUR skills and YOUR interests. Check it out. You already have an account.
  • LinkedIn – Whether or not you use it as a professional social networking site (which YOU SHOULD), you can also search it to look up internships. Use the search bar to fill in whatever you are looking for plus the word “intern” afterward. See the possibilities come to life.
  • Professional Organization websites – Some professional organizations (student orgs and national orgs) post internships related to that field.

In addition to submitting applications online, it is ALWAYS a good idea to USE YOUR NETWORK! Start contacting anyone you have a connection with in the industry to learn more. Your friends, family, family friends, friends’ family, alumni, etc. Contact them, ask them about their job or their company, let them know you are looking for an internship, get advice about how to make the best of your first internship, etc. You can learn so much from them. Don’t know where to start? Come see me. We can chat about it!

Emerging Careers for Engineers

Written by me, this weekly newsletter is to highlight emerging fields for engineers. Each week engineering students will receive an email explaining a little bit about the industry, also highlighting upcoming career events, and relevant internships or full-time opportunities for students. Check here to see the previous week’s information.

Not sure where to start? Check out Get Started & Find Opportunities