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I am a recent graduate in 2020 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and I have been searching for a job for about 6 hours a day for the past 5 months. I am in the US and if this trend continues I do not see myself getting a career in anything related to my degree. I have exhausted my resources in searching for a job and most of the personal advice I receive is "you will find one eventually" or "apply through the company site".

Question: Are there any volunteering opportunities for Electrical Engineers? To clarify, I am assuming I do not find a position related to my field and have a "gap" in my experience where I will have an unrelated job in the meantime. What can I do when I get home for an hour or two every day to work towards finding a position in Electrical Engineering?

I am asking how I can still do something relevant to my degree while I continue my search for a job because I have already been asked why I have not found a job right out of college in a recent interview. This has let me know that I am not likely going to ever find a job unless I physically prove the skills my degree has taught me.

also, I cannot afford physical projects related to my field. Any advice as to how I can be of service would be grateful.

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  • Can you code at all? I am sure there are IoT opportunities. – Matthew Gaiser Oct 19 '20 at 19:24
  • Get a job non in your field and then keep looking. Zero shame in that, and it will at least show that you want and are willing to work, even if it may not be your dream job. – Tymoteusz Paul Oct 19 '20 at 19:32
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    Does your school provide any career fairs or other networking resources with companies related to your field? – sf02 Oct 19 '20 at 19:43
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    @Studoku So I should just give up volunteering for the local food bank (working on the administration and technical support side), or the work I've done with Engineers Without Borders (helping impoverished people improve their lot)? – Peter M Oct 19 '20 at 22:10
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    @Studoku you mean the budgets of a charity organization that is trying to spend as little of its budget on overheads so there is more left for what they are designed to do? What you are saying is preposterous, and also off topic really. – Tymoteusz Paul Oct 19 '20 at 22:46
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To literally answer the question in the title, consider contacting Engineers Without Borders. The may not find much for you to do in the odd hour, but for longer term volunteer opportunities they are good.

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    To be fair professional membership of EWB is $100/yr, but that is technically only a requirement for doing official things like going to a project's site. Depending on the local professional chapter you can get away with volunteering without being a paid member. Student membership is $0, but that requires being associated with a student body which may no longer be possible for the OP. – Peter M Oct 20 '20 at 13:35
  • @PeterM and DJClayworth, thank you for the suggestion. Will these actually matter though? I looked into volunteering and interestingly they wanted the same thing, someone with x many years performing some job. To be clear I cannot afford to even volunteer because this costs money to fly somewhere. Do you have a suggestion as to how I can apply my skills without spending any money? – AndrewDonaldStockton Nov 5 '20 at 18:44
  • @AndrewDonaldStockton For the actual boots on the ground volunteering all of that cost is paid by who ever funds the trip. It's not coming out of your pocket. But start off with visiting a local chapter and see what you think. – Peter M Nov 5 '20 at 22:21
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A local makerspace would probably welcome you as a volunteer.

A makerspace is a place where people with interests in crafting or tinkering can go for access to expertise and tools that they lack at home. Sometimes this is unstructured time and sometimes this is for organized classes, booked in advance.

Needed skillsets can include electronics, coding, woodworking, metalworking, and even cosplay fabrication, and these areas of interest will vary from makerspace to makerspace. A small subset of your knowledge as an EE can be valuable to amateurs and inspirational to children, and (I believe) would look good on a job application.

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  • without an explanation, this answer may become useless in case if someone else posts an opposite opinion. For example, if someone posts a claim like "A local makerspace wouldn't welcome you as a volunteer.", how would this answer help reader to pick of two opposing opinions? Consider editing it into a better shape, to meet How to Answer guidelines – gnat Oct 20 '20 at 15:29
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    Explanation added. – Davo Oct 20 '20 at 16:22
  • @Davo thank you for the response, I would consider going to a makerspace but their is a fee for existing in the building. I do not have the money for this fee. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can apply my skills without spending any money, just my time? – AndrewDonaldStockton Nov 5 '20 at 18:46
  • @AndrewDonaldStockton you can inquire if they'll waive the fee in exchange for so many hours of instruction. Perhaps they will, perhaps they won't. – Davo Nov 5 '20 at 18:48
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If your local school system has returned to in-person learning, you could inquire about volunteer opportunities there. Many schools have (or would be willing to start) a robotics team that would benefit from an electrical engineer. The science department also might be happy to have someone volunteer a few hours to helping build experiments.

Once you have a job, even if it isn't in your field, you should be able to put together a small budget for personal projects. This need not be particularly expensive, a rapsberry pi is ~$40 and can be used for a variety of EE projects.

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  • Thanks I was curious, a large part of my degree was opening a book reading the material and answering problems. I found sites that would allow me to answer these such questions from books I have not read. Would this potentially be seen as volunteering or at all related to my field? – AndrewDonaldStockton Oct 20 '20 at 1:50
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    @AndrewDonaldStockton - I can't see how that would be considered volunteering. But it's something you could potentially talk about in an interview about what you're doing to stay current. Unfortunately, employers generally aren't concerned about whether fresh graduates are able to do problems out of books, they're worried about their ability to apply that knowledge. And it's really hard for a potential employer to know whether you did 1 problem from 1 book in 5 minutes or whether you've been spending hours learning new things. You could look for an edX/ Udacity/ etc course in EE. – Justin Cave Oct 20 '20 at 3:17
  • my concern with this approach of spending money on learning new skills will matter at all. I am competing against people who have the in at a company and I personally think the ATS programs are going to not even consider me because of my lack of experience. I am asking what can I do that will make me competative to others. – AndrewDonaldStockton Nov 5 '20 at 18:31
  • what can I do without spending money, to prove I can apply my skills on a project? – AndrewDonaldStockton Nov 5 '20 at 18:41
  • @AndrewDonaldStockton - I'm not sure what "ATS programs" refers to. Certainly, the local schools aren't going to charge you to assist with the robotics team or to help the science department set up experiments. – Justin Cave Nov 5 '20 at 21:26

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