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Growing up in Nigeria, the only industry I knew engineers worked in was oil and gas. Following the footsteps of everyone around me, I decided to study mechanical engineering to work in the oil and gas industry. However, during winter break of my sophomore year of college, I stumbled onto a YouTube video about nuclear power, and it became very apparent that this was the industry for me.
There was a problem: I knew absolutely nothing about the nuclear power industry. I had no connections, and I did not know where to start. In this blog post, I’ll share how I went from knowing nothing to having multiple internships, research experience and leadership positions in the nuclear industry. While this post is about my experience breaking into nuclear, it can be equally applied to any industry.
The great thing about breaking into an industry is that once you break in, it is very easy to move around.— Seun Olumurewa ’23
1. Join student organizations related to the industry
For any industry you want to work in, there is a student organization on campus for you. I joined the American Nuclear Society chapter at Texas A&M. I became the first non-nuclear engineering major in the organization and went on to take a leadership role as the external committee head.
This is the simplest way to make connections and learn more about your industry!
2. Network as much as possible
Remember how I said you should join a student organization? Now you need to go to their speaker events. During these speaker events, companies send employees and recruiters. This is a great opportunity to meet contacts in your industry. Additionally (if available), go to a student career fair specifically for your industry. I attended the American Nuclear Society student conference remotely, where I was able to connect with several recruiters on LinkedIn.
Remember, a great connection could lead to an amazing opportunity!
3. Apply (Don’t give up)
Now that you have more knowledge in your industry and the connections, the most important thing is to apply and keep applying. To get my first internship in 2021, I applied to every nuclear power plant in the U.S. that offered internships. I received A LOT of rejections. Only one company (Entergy’s Waterford 3 Nuclear Plant) interviewed me and later offered me the role. The main takeaway is to keep applying through rejections.
Opportunities don’t just happen; you have to make them happen!
The great thing about breaking into an industry is that once you break in, it is very easy to move around. Adding “nuclear power plant intern” to my resume opened up other opportunities for me, such as a research position at the Thermal Hydraulics Research Lab at Texas A&M and a co-op as a nuclear field services intern with General Electric Hitachi.
Now you have the tips to break into a new industry. Good luck and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Additionally, if you need help fixing your resume, preparing for an interview and learning how to network, try visiting the Anadarko Engineering Career Center in the Zachry Building.