Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Engineering Work Experience

  1. Jul 23, 2008 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Im a first year engineering student; just about to start my second semester infact. Ive been thinking, and i thought that i should really be starting to get experience other than the theory i learn at uni. Things that will make me more attractive to an employer when it comes time to finish my degree.

    Ive been looking into vacation work programs, but every employer i've looked at is looking for students in their final years of their degrees, which im obviously not.

    Is there anything i can do to improve my employability at this stage in the game, or is it too early? I dont expect to be doing full-on engineering work because obviously i still have a lot to learn, but is there anything else that an employer may look for when employing a graduate, other than his grades?

    I live in australia by the way, if that should change the responses to my question.

    Thanks in advance,
    Dan :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2008 #2
    it's never to early.

    depending on your activity in the thread and elaborating a bit on your experience and what you are studying towards (eng phys, eng chem etc) I could be rather explicit about the little details of what employers seek.
  4. Jul 23, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well as i mentioned, i am still in my first year of engineering, and at the universityn at which i am studying (Uni. Of Western Australia), we dont necessarily need to have chosen an engineering stream until the second year. I was a little unsure (and still am) about which direction i wanted to go in, so for the first year im just doing all core units, and ill start the more specialized units next year. Im strongly looking at going into either mechanical or chemical engineering. In terms of my grades, i believe i am doing fairly well in comparison to the other students. My lowest overall score was 84% in an accounting unit and my highest was 97% in my calculus, probability and statistics unit, so i received high distinctions for all of my semester one units, giving me a GPA of 7 (i believe some australian universities use a 0-7 scale?).

    Im doing a double degree, engineering as well as commerce. In terms of the commerce side of things, im really just doing it to complement my engineering degree, so ill end up choosing a corporate finance and/or investment finance major.

    Im fresh out of high school, so i haven't really gained much experience in many areas. The only jobs ive had have been pretty typical "highscool kid" jobs, such as supermarkets, cafe's etc. Ive also been tutoring high school chem, physics, maths etc. this year, but other than that, in terms of work experience, thats all i have.

    That pretty much sums me up :smile:

    Thanks for the reply :smile:
  5. Jul 26, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Anyone have any advice?
  6. Jul 27, 2008 #5
    Hehe, you know, most of us got stuff to do all the time. :) So be patient please.

    I think you should go into production of materials (like ballbearings, isolation stuff like that) or process industry (industrial gases, foodstuffs etc) at the entry level and do the manual/menial labor. This is to get an idea what really works in reality and gain experience from the workers point of view.

    One thing I learned when I started to do real grunt-work was a basic understanding of a pumpsystem that mixed the concrete. I had to take it apart, wash it and getting all the bolts and screws out of the system. Besides learning the lingo, knowing what I had to do as an engineer to gain their respect and similar social skills concerning industrial-work.

    Then after you've done this (preferably in the summer vac between 1st and 2nd year) you can go into more white-collar work or gain more experience with the entry-level work. Next year I am going into more white-collar work at least. :)

    hmm, I would've done a commerce or similar bachelor if I thought it was a good idea. But I am not getting work as a Managemant consultant, mainly because their hours are horrendous. So my extra-bach will be in languages, which I deem more efficient when looking at what makes an engineer employable.

    The people jobs you have had before are excellent and very relevant, because when you work as an engineer you work in teams, so the peopleskills should be honed to maximum. Another thing is that being a high school-tutor is excellent because then you really have to think through the basic concepts and really learn yourself as you teach others.
  7. Jul 27, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yea i know that people have better things to do, but i thought that perhaps you had forgotten about this thread, so i didnt want it to go onto the second page unanswered :smile: Didnt mean to sound impatient :smile:

    And thanks for the advice. What do you mean when you say "isolation stuff"?
  8. Jul 27, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Doesn't your college offer engineering industrial attachments during vacation? If those are reserved only for upper-level engineering students, then I have no idea on what else is available as engineering work experience for your level.
  9. Jul 27, 2008 #8
    Defennder: I think it's better to apply yourself, then to make someone else do the job for you. Co-ops may be nice and look good on paper. But it's a bit like "give a man a fish, and he's not hungry for a day, learn him to use the fishingrod and he's not hungry for as long as it's breath in his frame".

    I think that you should facilitate contacts between companies and engineering students, you should also go on a lot of field trips, preferably 2-3 a year (although they cost a bit for the school as well as the company).

    When they send me and my classmates on fieldtrips we see things that many people doesn't see that often or take for granted. Like the time I was on the roof of a very large turbinesystem. We saw a nuclear powerplant and the ocean. It was scary as heck being that high up in relation to the ground, but the view was well worth it, probably the best memory last year.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook