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Your guide to building a career in engineering

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The fruits of a career in engineering are everywhere - from the bridges we cross, to power stations that produce our electricity, and the water treatment works that ensure fresh water is on tap.

I’m still struck at the sense of pride that engineers take in their work. There’s clearly real satisfaction in being the people behind the scenes, making amazing things happen. The great news is that engineering is enjoying a period of growth, which means there are lots of brilliant and varied career opportunities available.

At NM Group, we are involved in exciting projects up and down the country. It’s a diverse sector and new recruits might specialise in mechanical and electrical engineering, civil engineering, or work on construction projects. We’re also dedicated to ensuring that a flexible and family-friendly career in engineering is open to men and women.

Starting salaries for graduates are competitive and apprenticeships are on offer too, for both professional qualifications and skilled trades. No two recruits will follow the same career path – personal career ambitions and aspirations are always considered.

If that appeals to you, then you’re going to want to stand out from the crowd. While qualifications and technical skills are important, I firmly believe that it’s the extra-curricular activities and soft skills that make a candidate special.

Here’s what you need to know:

Get to know engineering as intimately as possible: Academic study is important but a work placement can be invaluable in demonstrating just how rewarding an engineering career can be. It also proves to an employer how committed you are. Many of our graduate recruits become great ambassadors for engineering, helping us to spread the word and attract the next generation of graduates. Seek them out. One day it could be you!

Get to know the professional bodies: Each of the different engineering disciplines has their own professional bodies and support students and undergraduates in successfully embarking on a career in engineering. The Engineering Council is the regulatory body for the engineering profession and explains on its website how undergraduates can apply for student membership. These institutions offer resources that might help students in their studies, including libraries, networking opportunities and careers advice.

Be ready for the world of work: While it’s important to have a passion and drive for engineering, it’s equally important to demonstrate that you are ready for the world of work. Becoming an ‘employable’ person involves having a good work ethic and demonstrating the necessary life skills. Having previously worked helps – even if it was only a part-time job.

Show you’re flexible enough to work alone or as part of a team: Anything that shows initiative will be helpful. Think of examples of the way that you’ve achieved things independently in your personal life – like volunteering, membership of clubs and societies. Similarly, teamwork is incredibly important in engineering. Find ways to demonstrate your ability to work as part of a team by joining a sports club or team of volunteers on a community project.

But passion and drive is most important: While life skills, technical ability, commercial awareness and academic achievement are important, passion and drive are the characteristics that are most attractive to any employer. Demonstrate genuine enthusiasm and you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd.

Karen Morris is Group HR Director at NM Group. Find out about the NM Group Academy here: http://www.northmid.co.uk/careers/our-academy

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