How to leverage an IE degree in an unrelated job field

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #3581
    Tyler Parbs

    I am wondering if anyone on this platform has advice for using their IE degree to they advantage in another industry. I accepted a full-time job in real estate development and would like to hear advice from others who may have made similar career path changes.

    Jesse Parritz

    While I haven’t begun full-time work yet, the internships I’ve had have all been in areas not directly related to Industrial Engineering. In my experience, thinking more about the high-level things you’ve learned in IE and engineering, in general, are what you’ll bring to the table. You might not be organizing a manufacturing system, but you’ll be leveraging the skill of how to systematically address a problem, look at it from multiple angles, and come up with a comprehensive solution. I feel as though the multi-disciplinary nature of Industrial Engineering helps a lot with this, which is why many IEs end up in healthcare, transportation, consulting, and countless other fields.

    Best of luck!!

    Michael M.

    This is a great question that I have been asking myself while applying to internships for this Summer. I believe engineering students (especially ISyE students) are better equipped for many jobs that are catered to business students. I think its the rigor of our classes that are highly quantitative prove that we are able to address any problem or task that we are faced with. ISyE, especially at UW-Madison, gives us a large tool belt with many different tools to be able to tackle multi-disciplinary situations as noted above. Hope all is going well!


    I think another thing that an IE degree helps with is exposure to many different industries. Throughout my IE classes I’ve gained exposure to manufacturing, healthcare, management consulting and finance just to name a few. This exposure is something I’ve definitely leveraged in my job search, and employers seem to really appreciate the breadth of the IE curriculum here at UW-Madison.


    Reply to Tyler Parbs of #3581:

    Hi Tyler!

    I think that by getting a degree in Industrial Engineering at UW-Madison provides you with a solid base in a lot of different disciplines and allows you to go into other fields more seamlessly than some of the other engineering majors. For example, the ISyE major has you take courses in Manufacturing, Economic Analysis and Healthcare Systems. This allows you to apply the technical knowledge you have as an engineering major to various different fields. In addition, even though the OTM (Operations & Technology Management) major in the Business school and ISyE are similar, the engineering background of the ISyE major provides us with a strong problem-solving approach to problems and allows us to not only understand the business side of the situation but also the manufacturing (more technical) side to the operation which a lot of the business students may be lacking in. Overall, I think an ISyE major provides you with a lot of open doors on fields you can go into.

    Adam Mitchell


    When I chose to be an IE major, I never had any sort of intention of actually doing engineer work as my full-time career. Rather, I used it as an opportunity to differentiate myself. Now, I am going to be working in Medical Device Sales, which a technical background is beneficial in order to understand that equipment you are selling. Furthermore, jobs like sales can’t be filled adequately with any person with a marketing degree, its all about how that person interacts with others — not something taught in a classroom.

    Jack Grahek

    Using an IE degree can be useful in many field since you can focus your internships/classes around more broad level skills. Sometimes IE’s are considered strong project managers, and great at manipulating a system to receive a new change. This is a great skill to use in any consulting industry, whether that be healthcare, tech, strategy – you name it. Using systems concepts are useful in all consulting engagements, and that is the unique skill that an IE brings to the table. Where we may lack in finance, investment, accounting, and supply chain, we make up for by seeing the big picture as one system that intricately works together.

    Dominic Thompson

    I firmly believe that if you love your job then you will succeed in it. I have an ISyE degree and work in quality, which is rather typical. But, I work in the technical side of quality where all of my co-workers are mechanical engineers. There are many times I think the IE degree was not technical enough for my current position, but I enjoy the job so I do the research required to solve any problem that I am not too familiar with. If you are dedicated and willing to learn, then you will be successful.

    Kristjana Hrovat

    Reply to Tyler Parbs of #3581:

    I believe it’s really important to make sure that the person you’re talking to understands what industrial engineering is. I think a lot of people think it’s similar to structural engineering outside of engineering. I make sure to highlight the business and analytical skills I’ve gained. I also emphasize the problem solving and people skills I’ve developed on projects working with industry.

    Rebecca Graven

    I’ve heard many times from professors and employers that the most valuable part of our engineering education is that we become excellent problem solvers. I think having problem solving and critical thinking skills are valuable to any industry and will help set you apart from your co-workers (in a good way!). Even though you will encounter different types of problems in real estate development, there will still be issues that will require creative thinking where you can use the skills you’ve learned.

    Michael Kemnitz

    In your case, use the versatility of the ISyE degree to your advantage. I’m not really too familiar with the real estate industry, but utilizing your analysis skills along with your business/interpersonal skills you learned while at UW-Madison can be applied really to any job that exists.

    Kyle Raddatz

    One interesting take on industrial engineering that an interviewer told me was that she considers her IE degree to be a “problem-solving degree” because she works as a consultant instead of in manufacturing/supply chain. This makes a lot of sense because our curriculum teaches us many tools for solving a wide variety of problems. The DMAIC framework can be applied to almost every project you take on in your professional career.

    Nick Hurtgen

    Hi Tyler,

    Great question! During my career search, I explored a broad a range of areas outside of typical Industrial Engineering fields. Many employers have explained to me that they value having an IE as a way to diversify their employees.

    For example, I worked for a trading group that very much valued a more mathematical decision making approach, along with a better coding background, than they did a typical business major.


    Nick Hurtgen


    On another note, I really think where an IE wants to work really depends on whatever area they are interested in, whether it be supply chain, MFT, consulting or business.

    Adding on, I worked for a civil engineering company that wanted IEs because of their decision making skills. They thought that this diversity compared to strictly Civil majors was necessary when choosing projects and making key choices.

    In the end I think it depends on what you want to do. There are loads of online courses that can help you branch out from your IE degree. I have taken a few from MIT that have helped me diversify my own educational background–that I also highly recommend.

    Best of luck,


    John Silva

    When I was an undergraduate student, I thought your degree dictated what you did for the rest of your life. Once I started working, I realized that this is not the case at all.

    At my company, the VP of Operations has a biology degree. The Director of Supply Chain has a degree in statistics. The data analyst in HR studied history. My friend from school has a bachelors and masters in industrial engineering, and he worked in politics. Currently, he is a staffer for the arch bishop diocese.

    It doesn’t matter nearly as much as I thought it did.

    Apply what you’ve learned when you can. Adapt when you need to. At the end of the day, the fact that you have a STEM degree says a lot about who you are as a person.

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