Working as an engineer in Mauritius can be tough, challenging and also exciting, as Shahil Hussein Kassim has found. He feels the most important thing about being an engineer is making a difference, something he will strive to keep doing.
I am currently working as trainee mechanical engineer at the Wastewater Management Authority (WMA), responsible for the protection of the environment and ensuring the country's sustainable development by the provision of appropriate water pollution standards, wastewater control systems and management services to the entire population of Mauritius.
Finding work in Mauritius can be very tough and challenging, due to the large number of graduates coming into the market each year. Many employers are taking advantage of this situation by either employing someone on a contractual basis or reducing the benefits that employees ought to have.
To be honest I had a difficult start to my career. For my first job I had to spend sometime working on site abroad, and I was made to work 12 hours daily from Monday to Saturday and half a day on Sunday. It felt like a form of modern slavery, and so I resigned!
After struggling for a few months searching for another job, I joined an engineering firm in Mauritius. Things continued to be tough, but in a different way. My work there mainly entailed drafting on AutoCAD and TEKLA structures and with only on the job training and a lot of daily pressure since technical drawings are vital for production, I struggled to do the amount required of me each day and would come home very tired. However, with the support of my colleagues, I did have some good times at work.
When I first joined, I really enjoyed the first few weeks but then I discovered how tough my job could be. My managers were good in that they have supported me voicing any workplace concerns I had, and some efforts have been done to improve the working environment here off the back of my comments. There are many people that want to change things for the better, but it does take time to implement any kind of change.
However after six months of ups and downs there the opportunity came up at WMA which I had to jump at, as the company has said it will support me as I work towards professional registration, something very important to me.
Though I found that working as an engineer can be very stressful, ideally it can be a great career and we do help our society enormously. I love the fact that we can make a real difference to people's lives. It can be tough working in Mauritius though, trying to earn enough money, whilst working towards career progression too.
From my experiences, the advice I would offer others desiring to enter the world of engineering is to - before even going into study - try and get a traineeship in an engineering firm so you can see for yourself how the company is run.
I think it is also important to always try to remain positive about life and focus on the chance you have to make a difference to people's lives. You should not do this job just for the money, but because you can contribute positively to improving society.
This is the most important part of being an engineer to me and is shaping my career path moving forward. I plan to gain some additional work experience and I hope to eventually gain a scholarship in order to do a masters degree in the field of sustainable development and entrepreneurship. Once I have completed this, my objective will be to acquire more work experience and perhaps someday manage a firm or even get my own business up and running. Eventually, my ultimate goal is to try and help improve people's lives as much as I can.