Engineering Career Advice from TOTH & Associates

September 28, 2020
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We asked TOTH & Associates President Adam Toth to share some of the company’s recruiting preferences, as well as advice for recent engineering graduates.

About TOTH & Associates: TOTH & Associates has been recognized by the Springfield Business Journal for seven consecutive years as the largest consulting engineering firm in the Springfield, Missouri-area.

Established in December 2003, TOTH & Associates is a multidisciplinary firm featuring electrical, structural, and civil engineers, land surveyors, grant writers, GIS professionals, and other professional staff. These professionals work together to serve a wide range of clients, including architects, educational institutions, municipalities, and public and private utilities across the country.

Engineering Career FAQs Answered by TOTH & Associates

Q: Do you offer internships? If so, how many?

A: Yes. Five to seven during the summer, and a few of those interns who attend a local college also work part-time during the school year.

Q: What specific qualities and experience do you look for in an intern candidate?

A: We value GPA very highly, so we try to hire students with the top GPAs. We also try to find students that have ties to our area and try to gauge in the interview if someone is a hard worker.

Q: Do you recommend students take the FE exam?

A: Absolutely. One of the requirements of the job for our engineers is that they take the FE exam. When we hire an engineer, it’s expected they take and pass the FE exam. We have a nearly 100 percent first-time pass rate for our employees taking the FE exam. We also tell our employees they’ll want to take the FE exam because they get a bonus and raise when they pass.

Thinking about taking the FE exam? Download the Preparing for the FE Exam eBook.

Q: What advice would you give recent graduates about to enter the workforce?

A: Try to judge jobs based on what your job responsibility will be, not what the final product of the company is. Try to gauge what you would actually be doing at the job and consider whether you will enjoy what your actual job responsibilities will be. Also, be prepared to perform a lot of detail work early in your career. It can take several years to learn enough about your job responsibility to be able to oversee a project. Performing those detail tasks in your first few years of employment will better prepare you to manage projects later.

Q: What is a common mistake recent graduates make while applying to your firm?

A: In the interview, some applicants respond that they want a management position from day one or want to be in management shortly after hire. In a medium-sized firm with few managers, a new hire should focus on working hard and doing a good job. Good employees are noticed and will naturally progress in their career.

Q: What do you find recent engineering graduates are most surprised by when they enter the workforce?

A: How what they do is very different than what they learned in school. They may be surprised by the amount of onsite training. Your curriculum only teaches you the basics, and you learn a lot on the job. Lots of students come out thinking they know everything, but they have a lot of on-the-job training they need to do.

Q: What do you think will be the major changes in the engineering field in the next five years?

A: 1) There are some fields of engineering where a large percentage of that engineering base is retiring, and those fields will have a lot of need for engineers and a lot of need for people to gain knowledge from those retiring engineers.

2) There will be a continual push toward automation, so engineers with the ability to work in automation will have a lot of job opportunities.

Q: How would you suggest recent graduates maximize their time with their mentors?

A: For me, I like our young engineers to try and get as much face time as they possibly can. That means they sit in on phone calls to learn how to talk to people, watch day-to-day work, ask questions, and do anything they can to try and gain as much knowledge. I also suggest people be appreciative of their mentor because then your mentor will be more likely to help you.

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