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Topic Title: How to get relevant engineering work experience?
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Created On: 31 August 2012 09:34 PM
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 31 August 2012 09:34 PM
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Nick24

Posts: 8
Joined: 31 August 2012

I graduated in 2010 with a BEng (Hons) 2:1 Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree from Aberdeen University, but I have no relevant industrial/work experience. I am now 26 and have applied for hundreds of graduate schemes and jobs without success. My recent work experience was in a sales administration position and a call centre.

I am obviously becoming deskilled with every passing day. Is my degree now worthless? I am unable to finance a Masters degree.

I really want to work as an Engineer but I cannot seem to get a foot in the door. This situation is rather demoralising but I am trying to keep positive by posting here where there is a wealth of professional knowledge and expertise. I am willing to work anywhere to get some relevant engineering experience aligned to my degree.

I would be grateful for any helpful advice or suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

Edited: 01 September 2012 at 12:01 AM by Nick24
 01 September 2012 11:43 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

And yet we read all these ill informed articles about how we are so short of engineers. It is somewhat dissapointing really but your experience is not uncommon.

I suggest you register your CV with websites like reed.co.uk and jobstoday.co.uk and make it searchable, and also register yourself with technical staff agencies accross the UK.

Regards.
 01 September 2012 12:49 PM
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MAWilson

Posts: 48
Joined: 22 February 2006

It is an unfortunate situation you find yourself in and I really feel for your story. One of the things I find lacking with universities these days is they don't seem to create synergies to working life and actually getting a job which hopefully the university sector is tackling.

Finding work these days is like work in itself where research and so much preparation is required. My advice to you is don't send generic CVs out to companies as this tends to get rejected in the first pile and rarely reaches the Engineering Manager for assessment. Learn about the companies you're interested in and tailor each application to them with some understanding of the culture. Ensure you have a top 5-10 which you really concentrate on.

Check jobsite.co.uk as they usually have a good selection of engineering jobs.
 02 September 2012 02:31 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Really important point here: no-one will invite you to an interview (including assessment days) unless they think you can do the job. Life's far too short for managers today to waste their time "humouring" people! So you ARE getting most of the way there. It sounds like you may need some training in interview techniques to clinch the last part of the deal. Have a look around your local area and see if there is any training available: your IET Local Network would be a good place to start; if they don't run such an event, suggest that they do!

Also, find engineers in work (again, perhaps use your IET LN) and try to persuade them to run through what happened at your interviews (in return for a pint ), they may well pick up what went wrong, and from that may be able to suggest what specific experience you need. Use the IET mentoring service, this will put you directly in touch wiht an unbiased experienced engineer. Don't rely on friends and family; unless you are very lucky they will just tell you that you're brilliant and all your interviewers were rubbish!! (Which is a: wrong and b: no help at all.)

Re degrees: most practicing engineers have a bachelors degree, if that. So don't get too hung up on your qualifications. You're quite right that you do need that first experience, which is far more important, and it is a pain in the backside getting it. Unfortunately the only way to do it is to follow the following rules (which you've started by posting here):
1. Read every job ad you can to find what experience employers are looking for
2. Tell everyone you meet that you are looking for this experience
3. Meet as many engineers as you can and repeat 2. (helping out at IET and other volunteer based organisations' events is a great way to meet people who will help you)
4. If you have any hobbies etc which can in any way be linked to engineering ramp up the engineering bits of them - this can be a great way to make contacts and will also come over well at interviews.
5. Never, ever, ever, whinge, whine, or blame anyone for not having a job. It can quickly become a habit and you will just come over badly at interview. It's probably possible to prove that optimists get offered more jobs than pessimists do, which is an unfortunate example of positive feedback (or self-fulfilling prophesy). But you can help yourself here: don't complain if a door gets shut in your face, just try to find out why so it doesn't happen next time.

Just thought of this while writing that last bit: If you get turned down for a job don't be afraid to ask why. Something like 75% of employers won't tell you, but the advice from the remaining 25% can be solid gold, and there's nothing to be lost in asking.

And just to reiterate, if you are an IET member do use the mentoring service, that's what it's there for

Good luck!!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 02 September 2012 at 02:43 PM by amillar
 03 September 2012 09:20 AM
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chris1982

Posts: 35
Joined: 09 August 2007

I have said this in another thread, don't get hung up on graduate schemes, there are plenty of smaller companies willing to take graduates on out there and give you experience

what did you specialise in your degree in?
 03 September 2012 01:53 PM
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Nick24

Posts: 8
Joined: 31 August 2012

Once again, thank you for all your advice. It is most helpful.

It is a general electronic and electric degree, but I am best suited to analogue and digital and communications.

I have also applied to a variety of technician jobs around the country so I am pursuing every avenue.

Thank you.
 04 September 2012 10:57 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: Nick24
I have also applied to a variety of technician jobs around the country so I am pursuing every avenue.


Good idea, that's exactly what I did. After graduating I was unable to get a design job so I worked as a maintenance engineer, which led to a job as a production test engineer, which got me noticed for a design opportunity. Took me three years of experience from graduation. It certainly didn't harm my career long term: I still ended up in very high-flying design roles plus I had excellent "real world" experience which is still helping me 30 years later.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 04 September 2012 12:07 PM
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IJohnson

Posts: 2
Joined: 10 April 2012

IET Connect offers an Outplacement scheme for IET members who are out of work.

This scheme is free for IET members and includes a programme of one-to-one career consultations, CV assistance, practice interview support, assistance with other assessment techniques and other services.

If you would like more information about this service please contact IET Connect on 0845 685 0685 or 020 7344 5498 or by email at ietconnect@theiet.org

-------------------------
Ian Johnson
Caseworker
IET Connect
 07 September 2012 03:11 PM
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DonaldFisher

Posts: 44
Joined: 21 December 2010

Hi,

Whilst looking for a job, I would definitely recommend considering studying an MSc which could be taken part time. This is for two reasons:

Firstly, It would only require one day per week attendance; therefore, it shouldn't prevent you from picking up a full time job whilst you study.

Secondly, most MSc courses have PSAS funding available. Usually only 5 or 10% of those in your class are offered this funding - normally those with the best grades. However, there is a separate allocation for part-time students; meaning if there are very little p/t students on your course then you have a very good chance of being able to acquire this funding.

I am currently studying at Strathclyde and had another offer from Herriot Watt - both were p/t MSc courses and both automatically offered me the funding by default due to the low numbers studying p/t.

All my fees (£3700) are paid and I have been able to work full time.

-------------------------
JBB IEng MIET
 08 September 2012 01:08 AM
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DonaldFisher

Posts: 44
Joined: 21 December 2010

No problem Nick.

Just a heads up - PSAS funding is from SAAS (Students Awards Agency for Scotland); therefore, double check if you can qualify if you are not Scottish. I assumed you were from Scotland as you'd studied at Aberdeen.

Good luck with your interviews.

-------------------------
JBB IEng MIET
 25 September 2012 12:18 PM
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johnnmann

Posts: 53
Joined: 18 October 2006

Originally posted by: amillar



Good idea, that's exactly what I did. After graduating I was unable to get a design job so I worked as a maintenance engineer, which led to a job as a production test engineer, which got me noticed for a design opportunity. Took me three years of experience from graduation. It certainly didn't harm my career long term: I still ended up in very high-flying design roles plus I had excellent "real world" experience which is still helping me 30 years later.


I can say the same almost word for word (except perhaps I don't fly so high!)
 25 September 2012 01:11 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

I don't these days either - it's scary up there

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 15 October 2012 02:42 PM
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Avatar for sinclair66.
sinclair66

Posts: 12
Joined: 01 October 2003

Nick

Are you based in / around London?

I am looking for someone to come and work (part time if it suits) with me developing electronics and software applications (iOS, Android Windows Phone, Windows etc) for the automotive market.

Let me know if you're interested?
Sinclair
Company Home Page
Product Home Page

PS. No agents replying please

-------------------------
Sinclair
http://www.kbmsystems.net
sinclair@kbmsystems.net
 28 February 2013 01:38 PM
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Nick24

Posts: 8
Joined: 31 August 2012

I am happy to report that I am now in Botswana getting experience on a gasifier project.

It's a case of who you know in this world too.
 22 June 2013 11:06 AM
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Wourell1982

Posts: 1
Joined: 06 June 2013

I cannot believe this. You are an engineer and yet can't find a decent job in your chosen field of expertise?! Seriously, the government has to do something about this. They have always been giving misleading information about the country being in need of more engineers yet we see a lot of them jobless. It's crazy but I guess it's life today.

What I would suggest you to do is to not be choosy with regards to position for as long as you are in your forte. There is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom. You can always work your way up especially once the management sees the potential in you. Good luck!

I am a computer gaming enthusiast and I created a website to help my fellow gamers who are searching for a new video card. Find the best deals for gaming video cards [Link removed to save you the most money!
 22 June 2013 02:55 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: Wourell1982
I cannot believe this. You are an engineer and yet can't find a decent job in your chosen field of expertise?! Seriously, the government has to do something about this.

What's it got to do with the government? Their attitude will be is that if industry has a need for engineers then it will employ them, if it doesn't then it won't. Since 1979 we have consistently voted for governments in the UK (of whichever colour) whose principles for general industry are that it's down to market supply and demand which industry sectors they work in.

Now there are plenty of people in this forum who will be delighted to have a debate about whether this is politically "right" or "wrong", but in the meantime we have to accept that at present it's down to individual industry sectors to decide whether they can make money out of UK engineering (and I'll give them a clue: in general yes they can) and then to do something about it.

Otherwise you've got to change a large percentage of voters in the UK to want to vote in a government who believe in centralised control of industry if you think the government should sort this out!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 22 June 2013 08:15 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
What's it got to do with the government?


Take into account that governments over the past 10 or so years have been obsessed with getting more youngsters to study STEM subjects and have spend a considerable amount of public money in doing so.

My own primary school didn't really teach science and neither did the teachers care much about the scientific knowledge of the children. When I was at secondary school it was almost a personal choice whether students took science subjects (like myself) or pranced around on the stage in drama and carved statuettes in woodwork. Government initiatives to get more youngsters to study STEM subjects was almost unthinkable and there was also significant opposition to making science compulsory in primary schools back then.

it's down to individual industry sectors to decide whether they can make money out of UK engineering (and I'll give them a clue: in general yes they can) and then to do something about it.


I believe that but the banking fraternity doesn't.
 23 June 2013 09:38 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: jencam
Take into account that governments over the past 10 or so years have been obsessed with getting more youngsters to study STEM subjects and have spend a considerable amount of public money in doing so.

I'd love to be able to agree with you, but having been very actively involved in STEM support for well over 10 years I can assure you that that the actual amount of public money that has been spent is tiny. Fine words, parsnips etc. There is a large focus on STEM education as long as companies sponsor it, which as I mentioned above is a perfectly valid point of view (whether I personally agree with it or not).

If a "considerable" amount of money was being spent I'd be very gladly helping them spend it!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 23 June 2013 at 10:54 AM by amillar
 23 June 2013 07:02 PM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
I can assure you that that the actual amount of public money that has been spent is tiny.


In relation to what the government spends on EU membership, then yes.

Consultancy services make up a sizeable fraction of the money the government has spent on STEM.
 24 June 2013 11:58 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: jencam
Originally posted by: amillar
I can assure you that that the actual amount of public money that has been spent is tiny.

In relation to what the government spends on EU membership, then yes.

And in relation to what they spend on everything else. This is a debate on STEM education, not on the rights and wrongs of EU spending.

Consultancy services make up a sizeable fraction of the money the government has spent on STEM.

Well it would do. The UK Government policy has been for 30 years to privatise services where possible. Therefore it is logical that in general the only people employed by the government working in STEM education would be STEM teachers (and of course with e.g. the academy and UTC programmes not even them), so any other STEM education expertise paid for by the Governement will, by definition, be consultancy services.

And the point still stands that a sizeable fraction of practically nothing is still practically nothing. But they are only doing what they promised to do, and what we voted them in to do.

But, as mentioned before, if anyone here knows a way that a STEM education consultant can earn a living wage doing it please let me know, as I would be delighted to become one! Meanwhile I'll carry on on a voluntary basis, as many of us in STEM education do.

Which takes us back to the thread: on Wednesday I will be conducting mock interviews with sixth formers interested in going into engineering, it will be interesting to see if they appreciate the value of work experience. When I did this last year it was striking how several of those who took part had no idea that it was so important.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
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