If you’re fascinated by how things work and you love to solve problems, a career in Engineering could be perfect for you. As with any career, though, you’ll need relevant skills and experience to stand out from the crowd and land your dream job. These insider tips, given by an industry expert, will help you to jump in and get started...
Who works in Engineering?
You’ll find a mixture of hands-on and office roles within the Engineering sector:
- Field service. Field service engineers go out to sites around the world to install, maintain and upgrade equipment.
- Manufacturing. Manufacturing engineers and workers keep production lines running smoothly and improve methods to reduce waste and increase quality.
- Workshop. Workshop roles maintain on-site equipment and provide one-off solutions to development engineers.
- Assembly. Engineers who work in assembly construct equipment and feedback into the design process to make assembly easier and more accessible.
- Design. Design engineers use CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) tools to create a physical solution to meet a need.
- Development. Development engineers take designs and test them. These tests often compare different calibrations, settings, or hardware variants. Development engineers are responsible for improving the performance and reliability of a product.
- Data. Data engineers work with the results of products on test and in the field. Global digitalisation has increased the amount of data from products being used by customers and allows engineers to assess how products perform in the real world. Data engineers can then use this data to prevent product failures and influence future design.
What skills will you need to demonstrate?
Employers in the Engineering sector will often look for:
- Creativity. Finding new solutions to problems can turn impossible tasks into profitable exercises.
- Teamwork. You’ll need to be able to work as part of a team whether you’re giving instructions, carrying them out, or presenting ideas to other team members in a clear and concise manner.
- Numeracy. Strong numeracy skills are useful for many roles in Engineering. It can be more beneficial to have a basic grasp of maths (such as ratios, fractions, powers) which you can then apply to various methods (such as dimensional analysis), than more complex ideas (such as calculus), which are typically used in more theoretical branches.
- Computer languages. Being able to use high-level computer languages (such as MATLAB, Python, R) is especially useful when working with large amounts of data and automating menial tasks.
Useful tip: Use Unifrog’s Competencies tool to record examples of you demonstrating numeracy and teamworking skills.
How can you get experience?
Now for the tricky part – building those skills! These opportunities will help you to develop essential skills and experience that will look fab on future applications.
Experience you can gain through school, college or university
- Join a technical club. Your school or college will very likely have a robotics club or a club that allows you to take part in engineering challenges. If they don’t, speak with your science or maths teacher about setting one up!
- Enter an engineering competition:
- The Great Science Share for Schools (GSSfS) is a campaign to inspire young people into science and engineering by sharing their questions. Teachers and educators UK-wide, across Europe and internationally are able to take part, so ask your school to get involved.
- Educational engineering competitions such as Formula Student and Railway Challenge are often entered by groups of university students (though it’s also possible to enter these if you’re not at university).
- Join a student society. Whether your passion is aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering or electrical engineering, you’ll very likely find a student society at university that suits your interests.
- Develop other skills. If your school, college or university is short on STEM opportunities, get involved with a sports team or music group – either will demonstrate your ability to work well as part of a team.
Experience you can gain elsewhere
- Volunteer. See what’s happening in your local area and get involved! If you’re based in the UK, use this website to find local STEM events and groups – many will allow you to volunteer for them. It doesn’t have to be STEM-related, though – if you’re passionate about the environment, for example, get involved with Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. It will still look great on applications, you’re likely to pick up some useful transferable skills, and if you do end up working in environmental engineering, all the better!
- Get MOOCing. Head over to Unifrog’s MOOCs tool, select Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering (or all three!) and get learning. MOOCs, or ‘Massive Open Online Courses’, are often free and they’re a great way to pick up industry-specific skills. If you want to develop computer language skills, it’s also worth checking out Free Code Camp.
- Attend EXPOs. EXPOs are large, international exhibitions, and many are specific to a certain career sector or industry. They’re a great opportunity to talk to different engineering companies and find out what their work involves, as well as give out your CV.
- Work experience placements. Many companies in the Engineering sector will take on students for work placements, even if just for a week. These placements will give you a valuable insight into working in a particular area of engineering and allow you to decide whether or not it’s the right path for you.
- Internships. Look out for degree programmes that have an internship or year in industry built in. If you impress your employer, they might even offer you a job after you graduate!
- Apprenticeships. Some countries offer young people the opportunity to combine paid workplace experience with a recognised qualification through an apprenticeship. If you live in the UK, head over to Unifrog’s Apprenticeship tool to get started. There are plenty to choose from – a quick search at the time of writing threw up a whopping 477 results!
Useful tip: Use Unifrog’s Activities tool to log your experiences – it’ll make future applications far, far easier.
Other useful links
- Motorsport – if you love cars, this is a great event to get involved with. Volunteers are welcome at any age and there are plenty of opportunities to put your technical and mechanical skills to good use.
- Subcon – a popular Engineering expo based in the UK
- Gradcracker – find out more about placements, internships and graduate jobs in Engineering
- The Engineer – a news website covering all things Engineering
From the Know-how library:
World of work
- Engineering apprenticeships
- Volunteering: why it matters and how to start
- A guide to work experience
- How to get an internship
- How to network like a pro
- Acing your CV
- How to write a winning cover letter
- How to write a speculative application
- How to write the perfect resume
- Engineering apprenticeships
- Getting in for STEM: 6 tips