In this article Jo Hutchins, Interfacio’s R&D Engineering Recruitment Consultant, lists her seven key pillars for embarking upon a career in engineering.
- Build broad knowledge
Broad knowledge is essential. The simple reason is that if you are passionate about engineering and want to pursue a career in it, you need to have a solid base of knowledge in order to be equipped for it. Later on in your career you will
need to fall back on these foundations that you built during your education.
So be thorough in your learning and remember the saying that “the wise man built his house upon the rock”; your rock is the knowledge you acquire during the early part of your career. So don’t cut corners on your education and take all the opportunities that you can.
- Learn practical skills
In order to learn how to make things, take every opportunity to learn practical skills. And just like above – don’t cut corners. Get it right, work hard and strive for perfection. If you ever get the chance to take tours of companies, especially manufacturing ones, and can actually look at how equipment operates, it really brings it all home and makes sense of things that you learn in the classroom.
Look for opportunities to receive workshop training – to learn how to use a lathe, machine metalwork, and lay out printed circuit boards in a professional environment. Some of this you may never use in your future career, but the lessons you learn are valuable and will enable you to provide mentoring for engineers working for you later in your career.
- Challenge yourself
Being able to solve a problem in ways that other people wouldn’t figure out is an essential skill to build as an engineer. In doing so you will surprise yourself and have higher expectations of yourself – just like your tutors and lecturers do.
In work placements you will be asked to do things that don’t seem possible. A week will pass, two weeks……. but you read, you talk to people with more experience than yourself and gradually it starts coming together. You might get it wrong, but if you do you just have to make a judgement decision on whether to ask for help, or maybe even start again. University teaches you that you can achieve more than you ever thought you could.
- Don’t be afraid to fail
In order to be creative we have to take risks. I have failed but it shaped me. It taught me to be braver and more accepting of others and myself. Sometimes people have to give you constructive criticism and it’s important to remember it’s not an attack against you. It’s just feedback to help you achieve your goals and reach your potential – so don’t take it personally – learn from it!
- Do things that are hard
Later in life you will need things to be easy. You’ll have a mortgage, family, less energy and maybe be less healthy. In short, there’ll be more at stake outside work. So while you’re young, take on challenges. Be curious. Take a risk. If you don’t do it now, you never will.
- Work for people you admire
Who you work for is as important as where you work. That’s especially true when it comes to your long-term career development. Always work for someone you admire. Someone you have respect for will have respect for you, because respect is mutual.
Make sure that there are people you know who you want to be like. This will give you direction. If you can’t see people that you admire and can model yourself on, then maybe you are in the wrong job.
- Have a common goal
Make sure that your employer’s goals fit with your own. This could be the product, the company culture, a desire to innovate, to provide your end user with a neat solution. But make sure that you know and share your employer’s objectives before taking on a new role. You have worked hard to become an engineer and you deserve to reward yourself by working on something that is important to you.
In audio the common goal is often the opportunity to work in an industry which produces an end product that touches the soul, provokes emotion and brings people together. Ask yourself the question – what really matters to you?
R&D Engineering Recruitment Consultant