To ask any ENGINEERS for career advice?(15 Posts)
I'm a mature student who is studying for a BEng with the Open University.
I dropped out of my first undergrad degree years ago, and unfortunately as I was quite far along in the course, this means I won't qualify for funding for a second degree.
Although I'm going to be proud of myself when I finish the course just for doing it and taking on the challenge, I would also hope it would lead to better employment prospects.
I am aware I won't fit the standard "fresh-faced 23 year old redbrick grad" profile when I finish.
I work 30 hours a week in two minimum wage but nice jobs (well will be starting one of them soon but seems nice!).
I have a generally good standard of living, am childless. I think I have time to do extra training if I manage my time right,
Slightly in my overdraft but wondering if I need to think about saving for a Masters some day?
What can I do to improve my CV? I am thinking of retaking science/maths A-Levels (please don't laugh) so my science skills are up-to-date and thinking of work experience, but any specific pointers would be welcomed!
What would the a levels cover that your degree would not? Are there any local engineering firms who would take you for a part time internship to get some relevant work experience on your cv? Always a chance that this kind of arrangement could grow into something better.
It's a general "Engineering" degree with the OU - six years of part-time study. I'm coming the end of the first year.
After the first compulsory stage has passed, I can specialise in Energy and Sustainability, Engineering Design, Environmental Technologies, or Mathematical Methods.
I don't have to decide now but I think I might go for Mathematical Methods which has fluid mechanics and structural integrity (stress analysis I think?). I'm not sure what that translates to for other university courses.
The Institution of Civil Engineers require you to have a Master's degree if you want to apply for CEng, so that is something you might want to bear in mind. (At least they used to, they may have changed in the last few years).
If you have recent qualifications, or are working on them, I wouldn't go to the effort of retaking A levels.
You need some hands on experience.
A degree is only useful if you can demonstrate being able to put your knowledge into practical use.
Do you not have to manage a project as part of your degree??
You also need to think about where you want to go career wise. Engineering is such a broad field. I can't think of a benefit to mathmatical methods over energy management, for example, without some practical experience.
Re: Masters, I can actually continue with the OU and get an MEng rather than a BEng and a separate degree.
That said, I am aware there "may" be some employer snobbery about the OU (not really wanting to get into that debate, I dropped out of somewhere fairly dreaming spires the first time around and love my OU course!) so was thinking for pragmatic reasons maybe somewhere redbrick on my CV for postgrad might be an idea.
I read online for some fairly competitive Masters courses they will look at A-Level grades as well? Also for things like internships, recent A-Levels might make me be considered the same as all the 21 year olds?
I don't actually know though, I am (a lot of my colleagues on the OU course seem to already be in fairly good technical roles and just need "a degree" to progress up the ladder, so won't have that "entry level" challenge).
I wouldn't worry too much about the masters for now -IEng status is good enough for most eng jobs in my experience and you can make up the gap with relevant work experience. I think getting experience during the course is the most important thing - try talking to local firms about opportunities they have, even if it's non technical or administrative - can often lead to something else. Open University degrees very valued at my work - a lot of engineers at my work have them after completing apprenticeships. Good luck! Its been a fantastic career choice for me.
I was 'dreaming spires' all the way but in my experience working at various companies people who've come into the profession by unconventional routes are respected. There are many, many people in top engineering jobs who worked their way up via apprenticeships and working in trades and took degrees in later life.
What about professional membership - Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)? They have student levels and they're well worth it imo, invaluable for building up contacts in the field.
I have an OU degree and have never had an issue getting a job so don't worry about that one. I hated fluids with a passion (rubbish at it) but fortunately majored on stress so have done OK.
Fluid and structural are decent areas and always in demand. If you're dead set on doing a masters somewhere else then Cranfield has an excellent reputation. A masters is not mandatory for most fields although it sounds like civil prefer it. Unless you're going down that route then give chartership a wide berth as it's a waste of time. It gives you no professional advantage but costs you in sub's.
As above though, the trickiest part will be getting some hands on experience and doing the calcs in anger.
Thanks all, so work experience looks the way forward.
Part of my issue is I haven't really got the "trade background" either (my two closest coursemates have worked for ages offshore on oil rigs and as a CAD tech) but I'm retail/admin at the moment and have been in similar whenever I've worked.
(applying for the Royal Engineers as a reservist, but my application is still ongoing)
Are you in Scotland? Equate Scotland may be a good place to find some information www.equatescotland.org.uk/students
Might be something similar in other parts of UK.
Gaining work experience through placements would be beneficial. Have a look on the IMechE website - it has general career paths for where you want to end up and points you in the right direction. Your local branch will have organise events and lectures which are great places to network and build up a contact base. Good luck!
My husband is a mechanical engineer. He has a Masters, but probably the thing that made the most difference to his employability was the year in industry he did as a student.
He has never completed his Chartership, but could do now that he has a Masters; look into if your course is accredited for this if you want this. It has never really been needed for my husband (now in management for v large company)
Holy thread revival!!
Hello to you all. New here. Apologies for bringing this one back up again but as the OP (at the time of posting) is in a similar position to me I thought I'd use this thread and see if anyone could add any further advice to the above.
Thank you kindly in advance.
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