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Engineering professionals provide us with some pearls of wisdom about the application process and how to get ahead.

Try to relax and concentrate on getting to know the people you meet during the interview process. Remember that, for many roles, technical competence is just part of the picture and you need to enjoy working with people too.
Project Development Engineer, Air Products

Engineering is a people business, and therefore the vital ingredient to succeed is people skills and personality. Every day consists of working with junior and senior colleagues, external design teams, clients, contractors and the public.
You need to be able to respond to all of these situations and engage with every person you meet with to ensure that your projects are successful. Technical excellence is important, but engineering also requires the ability to communicate and work with other people to turn the technical ideas and solutions into project realities – that is the true challenge and success of the engineer.
Senior Consultant Engineer, AECOM

I would not worry too much about which specific area of civil engineering you would like to pursue once you have completed your degree. When I started my degree I thought that I would have preferred structures and I didn’t enjoy water in my first year at university, then I decided to go into it when I graduated.

Because the degree is so broad you can decide exactly which area you like as you progress. A lot of employers will let you rotate through various disciplines and you may find you prefer another discipline to that which you originally chose.

Take advantage of ICE events and competitions such as the student and graduate paper competition. These competitions/events are worthwhile entering to be able to personally develop and hone skills such as communication skills which are essential for a career in engineering.
Buildings and Construction Engineer, Mott MacDonald

If possible gain industrial experience during your degree. You will see how your studies apply to real life projects, be part of something that makes a difference to the company and help you figure out where your interests lie. It is also a great way to meet other people in that sector.

“Being pro-active and keeping up to date with what’s happening in the industry through the news and lecture events that are offered through institute bodies, such as the IET is also very helpful.”
Power System Engineer, National Grid

Grab every opportunity for experience/training that you can. Be the first to offer to help and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Defence Sector Engineer, Dstl

If you have your heart set on being a developer, I recommend that you keep up with the latest technologies that are being used in the workplace. It’s a fast-moving field and it is important to keep up to date with what is new in techniques and tools. I also recommend dipping into a couple of different types of programming language as there are many to choose from – scripting, procedural, object-oriented being but a few. If you are able to understand the basics of programming in a certain type of language, it is often easier to transfer your skills to another language of that type. Mess around and have fun with technology.
Software Developer, BT

Knowledge of the particular job and division you are being interviewed for goes without saying, but it is very important that you demonstrate a personal interest in the aspects concerning the job.

Learn about what the company does currently, including a brief overview on all the different areas of consultancy, no need to go into the many years of history.
Mechanical Engineer, Mott MacDonald

The main piece of advice I have is to put as much effort into your application and interview as possible. I know that’s adding to the pressure that you will already feel, but it’s worth it to get onto a graduate scheme.

“The other thing is to have a varied and interesting personal section on your application form. Most applicants probably have the grades to get in, but you have to prove you have the right behavioural competencies too.”
Graduate Systems Engineer, MBDA Missile Systems

I always thought energy would be a growth area, with a lot of new technology and where I could make a big contribution, and that is getting truer every day. There should be a lot of opportunities now as we enter a nuclear renaissance, renewables kick off and efficiency and performance are stretched across the board.
Energy Sector Engineer, UK Atomic Energy Authority

Joining an established graduate development scheme is a great way to explore, understand and position yourself in a large company. Some graduates don’t value these schemes as they are keen to prove themselves in a dedicated role. For me, the opportunity to spend two years working in different roles, departments and locations, gaining broad and varied experience is a real privilege. After all, your working life has only just begun.
Customisation Account Manager, Airbus

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