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Guide to BME: Industry

Guides to BME List

Overview

With a four year undergraduate degree in BME, you are more than ready to go out into the working world and show companies what top-notch engineers UW BME grads are. Another great idea is to stick around for the one-year Master’s Program, to hone in your focus and specialize in on particular track of BME (Bioinstrumentation, Biomechanics, Biomaterials/ Tissue Engineering). Believe it or not, even heavily research-oriented tracks like Biomaterials have a place in industry. So don’t think just because the fields are new means you have to stay in academia. There are R&D positions at companies like Kimberly-Clark, where you can work with other engineers, IP experts, and even marketing on developing a particular product in a similar way to BME design projects. This can be much different than working in a small academic setting, under one principal investigator.

Where to start

Look for a position early and often
This means looking during the summer and as soon as the semester starts. The Career Fair is at the end of September, which means it sneaks up on you pretty fast. So be ready to go with your résumé. BMES does a résumé building workshop before the Career Fair every fall. Engineering Career Services is a great way to find out which companies are currently hiring BMEs. You need to be a member of ECS so look out for their New Member Meetings, which will be a week or so before the Fall Career Fair, which again, is early in the semester.

Talk to upperclassmen in BMES

This is an excellent way to find out where BMEs get hired and where people enjoy working. Networking will seriously be a huge aid in getting a position. Whether you are looking for a full-time position, summer internship, or co-op, you want to be constantly vigilant of potential job opportunities. The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to gain work experience. I know it sounds like the vicious cycle of “I need to get a job to get a job,” but sinking your teeth into an internship in engineering, even if it’s not in your track, will do you wonders at the Career Fair and in an interview. Again, current upperclassmen provide insight into a company and even a potential recommendation there. This will give you a leg-up on other candidates to secure that crucial first job. After that the rest is easy.

Internships vs. Co-ops

First off, both a summer internship (10-12 weeks) and a co-op (both a summer and a semester) are excellent experiences to have. Showing companies that you are capable of being relied upon for 3-6 months reflects what they are looking for most in a candidate: hard work and dedication. So, even if you are biomechanics, taking an instrumentation-based internship or co-op will put you well ahead of the competition for an actual biomechanics position.

Now, although postponing your studies for a semester and doing a co-op may seemingly “mess with” your scheduling plans, it is without a doubt a worthwhile experience. Since you are around for twice as long as an intern, you are trusted with more and can take on more in-depth projects. It also shows companies you are serious about working if you are willing to take a semester off to work in industry. Because, everyone will work over the summer, but not everyone will take a co-op; this will make you stand out.

Stay in contact with your employers
Many like to hire interns and co-ops for full-time positions since they’ve already invested the time and money to train you. Your understanding of the company and hard work are valuable assets to both you and the company.

Branch out and try new things

You have a few summers to be an intern or co-op, so give a few different types of positions a try. Some great BME jobs are software verification and validation (GE, Ikaria), knee and hip design (Biomet, co-op), healthcare operations management (GE), among many others. Having unique and varying experiences makes you different from other candidates when you finally graduate and go out into the working world.

Post-Graduation

The Fall Career Fair is one of your best bets to get a full-job your senior year. It’s a unique opportunity to get a large numbers of employers, who you know are looking to hire, in one building. This means take advantage of it! First off, look ECS to email the list of employers out before the fair, and do your homework on them. Show them you have taken interest in them and know about what they do and what their products are.

Looking on ECS’s website once you’ve graduated is still a wonderful resource to find which companies are looking for full-time hires. So send them a cover letter and show your interest. Keep pursuing companies with follow-up emails at appropriate times (a couple of weeks). This will display your professionalism as well as reiterate your interest in them.

Getting a job can be difficult, but using your resources (networking, classmates, former co-workers, ECS) will all give you more than a fighting chance to make it in industry.

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