Dear James and Steve:Interesting question that I went through in 1977. Few comments based on my experience:-Yes, I did interview Exxon refinery at the University Employment center and got employed. It was the best choice I ever made.-When I started my practical life, I analyzed myself as what are my strengths and weaknesses are. Where Did I get As' and Bs' and where I got Cs". This allowed me to realize my strengths. This process allowed me to evaluate my self as to what area will be the best for me. I then focused.-Once I joined Exxon in Linden, NJ, in 1977, my boss, former MIT Chem. Engg department head, tells me to go to the plant and find problems and solve them. I got guidance from him as to how to find problems in the plant. Tackled problems and came up wit the solutions. These solutions were with mathematical approach rather than practical. He commented that Sudhir in practical world, you use your chemical engineering principles if you want to solve plant problems. That means focus on using continuity equation, material balance and Energy balance. In additions, after year or two my curiosity increased as to why my boss tells me to certain things. This led me to join college for MBA while working and this helped me great analyzing as to why I was told to do certain things. This helped me tremendously prepare myself for management position along with Engineering work,
To day after 42 years of industry experience and holding high level positions are result of following his advice. I have more than 32 patents, most of them generated significant revenues for my employers.-After retirement, I have my own company and continue developing new concepts and patent them and use in the industry.
Thus, analyze yourself and find out your strengths and weaknesses and focus on your strengths and succeed.