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I am a recent graduate. I hold a Master's degree in structural engineering. My bachelors is in civil engineering. I have accumulated a few internships in the last few years, and acquired a decent know-how in GIS and software programming. This however has NOTHING to do with my major, and there are few (if any) cross-over jobs that require both skillsets.

Should I focus on jobs in my field of study or should I go for jobs which my real-world experience applies to?

I should add that I currently am having a hard time finding a job, partly due to my visa status but also due to the fact that my real world experience does not apply to the jobs I am targetting, rather my diploma does. Again, should I focus on jobs which my diploma says I can do, or to jobs which my modest experience says I can do?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., gnat, Dawny33, Joe Strazzere, The Wandering Dev Manager Dec 7 '15 at 6:41

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Jim G., gnat, Dawny33, Joe Strazzere, The Wandering Dev Manager
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • What sort of job do you want? It sounds like you have to perfectly valid paths to choose from and we can't tell you which way to go. If you want to be a structural engineer, go for that. If you want to be a programmer, go for that. – Justin Cave Dec 4 '15 at 5:33
  • I would like to apply the things I learned in school (namely structural engineering). However my real world experience is not getting me those jobs. Do companies hire people on the basis of their diploma or internship experience? I have the impression that my internship experience indicates that I have no interest in working in my field of study, which is untrue. – user32882 Dec 4 '15 at 5:37
  • If you are really asking how to sell you experience as a developer to companies hiring structural engineers, that's a question that would be very much on topic. If that's what you want to know, can you explain why you applied for internships that had nothing to do with your major or your area of interest? – Justin Cave Dec 4 '15 at 5:40
  • If someone offered you a job doing GIS would you take it? If so, keep applying to both GIS software and structural engineering. – Brandin Dec 4 '15 at 11:30
  • There are plenty of Civil/structural engineering Jobs that have an element of programming /GIS in them – Pepone Dec 5 '15 at 22:32
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I would keep applying for those that fit your qualifications, you're much more likely to land a high paying job in that field with future career path attached to it. With the other you're more likely to get a low level job and be stuck in it until you get further qualifications.

Just because you haven't landed a job in your chosen field yet is not a reason to give up on it. It's a much clearer way forwards once you do break in to it. You may need to take on temporary work to survive meanwhile.

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I should add that I currently am having a hard time finding a job, partly due to my visa status but also due to the fact that my real world experience does not apply to the jobs I am targetting, rather my diploma does. Again, should I focus on jobs which my diploma says I can do, or to jobs which my modest experience says I can do?

Isn't this really obvious? Just apply to both and see what offers you get?

If you said "I really want to do X but am only getting interviews in Y" that would be a different question, but it just sounds like you need to be applying to more jobs in order to get one.

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Most Companies are looking for talent. If you can credibly prove you can perform the sought after job you can get hired. Pursue jobs you want, but know your self. You are probably better off pursuing programming for a start-up as hiring non-US citizen engineers for most engineering companies is prohibited by ITAR, but that doesn't mean you can find one. You should put your self our there try everything. Contact HR departments, Use Linkedin, go to career fairs. Also go to the department of labor for which ever state you are in and tell them you want to take the civil service exam for civil engineers. They can help you apply for government jobs though citizenship status may again be a hamper.

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