Thinking of a career in engineering? Here are some tips to get ahead of the game

Thinking of a career in engineering? Here are some tips to get ahead of the game

Engineering has huge potential to positively impact our society. This is especially the case as sustainability comes to the fore, where engineers are on the front lines of developing an eco-friendly built environment. As these world-changing projects progress, we need as much talent as we can get.

The problem is, no one ever tells you how to become an engineer. Sure, you diligently study STEM subjects at school and study engineering at university, but what about getting on the career ladder? Here, we share some tips for those looking to take those extra steps to get ahead of the game.

Graduate schemes can help you find your way

Engineering is an expansive field and many graduates are unsure about their niche straight out of university. At a recent online careers fair hosted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a telecoms engineer at Network Rail explained the benefits of entering a graduate scheme to find your path. Although he trained as an electrical engineer, the “digital railway” project inspired him to join the telecoms team and work towards digitising Britain’s railways.

Hone your practical skills

At the same careers conference, a graduate engineer from Siemens said the most important piece of advice she could give was to brush up on your skills and key concepts before going to an interview. Make sure you have the fundamentals clear in your mind, do your research about the company and plan ahead.

Prepare to be a team player

Academia can be a solitary affair, but in the industry, you’ll need to be part of a team. In order to collaborate and deliver on the company’s objectives, graduate engineers will need to make sure they can work well with other players from different fields. So, as well as ensuring your technical expertise is up to scratch, make sure you make the most of your interpersonal skills.

Get a sponsor or a mentor

Black and minority ethnic engineers are underrepresented – but it’s not interest in an engineering career that’s the problem. Over a third of engineering graduates come from an ethnic minority background, but there is very limited representation in boardrooms. Amit Katwala from the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers points out this can create a feeling of imposter syndrome. She suggests finding a mentor: “Imposter syndrome is brought about by under-representation, so it’s really important to have role models. Find a champion, find a sponsor and find a mentor.”

What if I don’t have a degree?

However, not everyone that wants to get into engineering will have studied engineering at university. This is another issue of representation – we also need engineers from different educational backgrounds. The good thing is that there are other routes, particularly through professional experience. Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to get hands-on experience, which may be good for those more practically than academically-minded.

No matter your path or background, a career in engineering has a lot to offer. Here at DJHC, we’d encourage anyone to look into the options, get into the sector and start making a difference.



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