Three Pieces of Advice for Structural Engineering Grads

If you are a civil engineering student finishing your degree, you are probably starting to explore all the options and opportunities available in the workforce. While structural engineering may be a specialized discipline, there are many paths and backgrounds that can lead someone into an exciting career that is innovatively transforming modern development in cities and towns all over the world.

We recently interviewed three of our engineers to learn what got them interested in the field and how they pursued their first job and built their career as a structural engineer with Simpson Strong-Tie.

Network and Make Contacts

Structural Engineer Griff Shapack headshot

Griff Shapack

Griff Shapack is an Associate FRP Design Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. He has bachelors and master’s degrees in civil engineering from North Carolina State University.

“I started looking for employment opportunities six months before graduation. I was working in a structures lab during graduate school, and the lab manager shared a job description for an Associate FRP Design Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie with a few students. I knew I wanted to work under a P.E., and had experience and interest in FRP design, so I applied.”

“One of the things I love best about my job is that I get to go out and give presentations to structural engineers with our sales reps and field engineers. It’s great to be able to interface directly with our customers.”

“My biggest recommendations for engineering students is to reach out to people you already know in the industry. Classmates and professors can have valuable contacts at firms where you want to work.” 

Persistence Pays Off – Don’t Give Up

Structural Engineer Jhalak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada is currently a Research & Development Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda, Gujarat, India, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. After graduation, she worked for an environmental consulting firm called TriHydro Corporation and as a structural engineer with Sargent & Lundy, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. She worked on the design of power plant structures such as chimney foundations, boiler building and turbine building steel design and design of flue gas ductwork. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

“When I was in school for my master’s degree in Chicago, my professor recommended that I apply for a job at a firm called Sargent & Lundy. Unfortunately, at the time I applied, there were no openings at the firm, so I took another job until there was an opening. I interviewed there and got the job. It was a wonderful experience because it was in this role that I had the chance to meet my mentor. Having a female mentor was great in terms of real-life experience and advice. In fact, we still keep in touch.”

“When I moved to California, I wanted to find a job that allowed me to do something different. I applied for a job with Simpson Strong-Tie, and it was the best decision ever because I always get to work on new and exciting projects. My recommendation for students is to be persistent in trying to get a job at the place where you want to work.”

Appreciate and Learn from Every Experience That Comes Your Way

Structural Engineer Neelima Tapata

Neelima Tapata

Neelima Tapata is an R&D engineer for the Fastening Systems product division at Simpson Strong-Tie. She works on the development, testing and code approval of fasteners. She joined Simpson Strong-Tie in 2011, bringing 10 years of design experience in multi- and single-family residential structures in cold-formed steel and wood, curtain-wall framing design, steel structures and concrete design. Neelima earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from J.N.T.U in India and her M.S. in civil engineering with a focus on structural engineering from Lamar University. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.

“I started searching for a job while I was finishing my master’s program. I started the search about a month before I graduated. My first job was in a consulting firm, and it was a fast-paced environment where you learned a lot on your own. My experience working for different consulting firms gave me a chance to concentrate on designing for a niche market, but my current role helps me see the big picture when it comes to design.”

“One of the things that I love most about my current role is that it allows me to take on multiple projects, so I’m always learning something new. It’s very important to stay curious. I also enjoy interacting with different departments in Simpson Strong-Tie. It gives me an opportunity to take on tasks that structural engineers may not normally get, like writing posts for an interesting publication like our Structural Engineering blog!”

“My advice for young structural engineers is to appreciate every experience that life sends your way. You may not realize it at the time, but it all ends up helping you get where you are now.”

If you are going to receive your degree this year or you know someone who is just starting out or looking to take a different path, Simpson Strong-Tie is hiring! We have several job opportunities in our engineering department. Check out our full list of job openings – then bookmark it! https://www.strongtie.com/about/careers/job-posting/engineerjobs

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