Where can I find engineering work off the beaten path?
August 18, 2012 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: just out of college and looking for a job. I've gotten as far as I can through Googling and my personal network, but browsing through endless generic online job sites hasn't brought results. I can move anywhere, commit to any length of time, and don't much care about the pay. How do I narrow it down?

I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering from a prestigious university and some technical ability in carpentry, mechanics, electronics, and HVAC. I'm physically fit, deal well with external stressors, and am good at methodical, detail-oriented problem solving. I'm not great at quick, creative, big-picture thinking, and not very comfortable with my casual people skills.

I've already considered the military (but my convictions don't line up), international service (I want to at least break even financially), professional engineering (often not hands-on), and being a technician/tradesman (often not intellectually oriented enough) -- but I don't even know where to find more of these jobs to consider.

Ideally, I want to be a part of a goal-oriented group doing something unambiguously good, where I can work with my hands or improve my technical skills. Now's the time for excitement and adventure -- being challenged physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Financially speaking, I have no debt and no bills, so I just want to come out somewhat ahead of where I am now. Fulfilling so much of one of those criteria that it trumps the others would be fine, too. So, what should I look for, and where should I search?
posted by Pwoink to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Things are booming in Bozeman and Billings, Montana. That's a start.
posted by yclipse at 2:30 PM on August 18, 2012

I can certainly think of higher moral purposes than milking the planet for non-renewable resources, but taking the point of view that civilization currently depends on it, you kind of sound like a candidate for being a field engineer.

There's constant demand for fresh graduates with your skills, because it's hard work that burns people out quickly. But you sound up for that. You'd be put into challenging front-line technical situations in difficult locales as part of a goal-oriented group. And you'd do far, far more than break even financially.

Some companies have decent reputations for ethics and safety, but 'unambiguously good' probably depends on your opinion of whether there's such a thing as fracking done well and properly (I'm told there is).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:31 PM on August 18, 2012

When I graduated 15 years ago, I got quite a bit of help from the university's career center. I also heard a story a few months ago that engineers are in high demand in Australia and pay significantly more than in the US. I think the boom was mostly due to the boom in natural resources extraction though.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:40 PM on August 18, 2012

A company that seems similar to Schlumberger, but in the field of extracting solids (mining) is Redpath.
posted by yclipse at 4:57 PM on August 18, 2012

In my company engineers for specific projects tend to come through "staff augmentation" companies. Which normal people call temping. These peon get tons of experience and are frequently hired on internally. I actually got hired there through a temp agency, but I'm corporate/non-engineer. But maybe seek out yheSe engineering staff augmentation firms?
posted by atomicstone at 5:52 PM on August 18, 2012

Temping is a good start. Finding people who are in construction project management and asking them how they'd recommend getting into the field right now or finding a job as an apprentice home inspector (note that there's now pretty much a formal apprenticeship, four year trade-style) seems like it would be a good fit for you.
posted by SpecialK at 11:24 PM on August 18, 2012

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