Studying can only teach you so much about the world of engineering. Being such a broad subject with so many different disciplines, a degree is only one piece of the puzzle to becoming a professional engineer. In the first year or so of most engineering degrees, students are often taught about all of the relevant engineering disciplines; Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Materials and even Business Management, meaning you can decide later which path you want to go down. Even by the end of a degree you will only have scratched the surface of the discipline you specialised in.
There’s more to engineering than just textbooks and theories.
School and university will only provide with some of the knowledge you need to gain complete understanding of topics. The rest is down to practical experience. I’m not just talking about laboratory experiments, but real world industry experience! It enables you to understand why you learn about the complex mathematical theories and see where they are applied. It can also give you an idea of what you want to do after university, or maybe what you don’t want to pursue (which is just as important)! Larger companies such as Rolls Royce and Babcock have structured internship programmes with several stages to the application process. These include online questionnaires and assessment centres, much like job applications. Smaller engineering companies shouldn’t be overlooked, however, as they can also provide you with industry experience and may only require a single interview. To maximise your chance of securing an internship, apply for as many as possible and start early, you don’t want to miss the deadlines!
An internship can provide you with industry experience and contacts for future!
University holidays are long, very long! Especially summer. This gives you the perfect opportunities to work in industry through placements and internships, helping you apply your knowledge to real world engineering problems. Completing a year in industry is another great opportunity to take if you get the chance and could also provide you with valuable contacts for after university when you’re seeking a job! Additionally, placements allow you to have a more comprehensive CV and experience you can discuss in interviews.
I explored different aspects of engineering during my vacations; working at first in manufacturing, then in electrical engineering and finally in design which I enjoyed most. This enabled me to focus the final year of my degree in this area by choosing related modules (including Mechanical Design, Dynamics, Finite Element Methods and a group project that was heavily design based). It’s a lot easier studying when you’re interested in a topic!
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