22 Tips for Engineering Students

May 16, 2022

As an engineering student, you're probably focused on studying and making the grade. But there's more to preparing for your career than just getting good grades. While you are studying the principles of engineering, you should also be thinking about the next steps.

If you want to have your pick of the job market after graduation, you need to start preparing yourself for the next steps. There are some simple things you can do while studying that will make your CV stand out to recruiters further down the line. If you're keen to make sure you are ahead of the competition, we have some advice for you. Here are 22 tips to help you make the most of your time in school and set yourself up for success after graduation.

1. Get involved in student organisations and societies

Being part of a student organisation is a great way to get hands-on experience in your chosen field. It also looks great on your CV, showing potential employers that you are passionate about your chosen career. 

If you're not sure where to start, ask your department if they have any recommendations. Being involved in extracurricular activities can help you to show skills like leadership, problem-solving and communication skills. This can be helpful in giving you something to talk about in interviews, particularly if you don’t have very much work experience under your belt.

2. Start building your professional network

Your professional network is a group of people you can contact for advice, information or help with finding a job. It's never too early to start building yours. You can do this by attending industry events, connecting with professionals on LinkedIn and following relevant companies on social media. 

As an engineering student, it's also a good idea to join relevant professional organisations. These can be great places to meet people working in your chosen field and learn more about the industry. You’ll also have access to expert advice when you need it the most.

3. Stay up to date with industry news

It's important to stay up to date with current affairs, especially if you're planning on working in a specific industry. This will help you to understand the challenges that businesses are facing and the issues that are important to them. You can do this by subscribing to relevant industry publications, following key influencers on social media and attending conferences and events.

Many companies want to see that their employees have good commercial awareness, and knowing what is going on in your chosen industry is a great way to achieve this. It will also give you plenty to talk about during your interviews.

4. Complete an internship

An internship is a great way to get real-world experience in your chosen field. It's also an opportunity to make industry connections and learn new skills. If you're unsure where to start, ask your department if they have any recommendations. You can also search for internships online or through professional organisations.

Some university courses will arrange internships as part of the programme, but not all will provide this support. If you’re interested in an internship during the summer holidays, speak to your course leader, or try applying directly to companies you would be interested in working for. This will allow you to demonstrate a passion for the sector and gain some valuable experience.

5. Get involved in research

If you're interested in a particular area of engineering, consider getting involved in research. This will give you the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects and develop new skills. It's also a great way to make industry connections and build your network. To get started, talk to your professors about opportunities in their labs or look for postings online.

You don’t have to be the lead researcher, you can assist others in their research and still get credited. This will give you lots to talk about in an interview and can also help to get your name out there as one to watch. You might find that employers are coming to you once you reach graduation.

6. Write papers or give presentations

One way to make your CV stand out is to have publications or conference presentations to your name. This shows that you are an expert in your field and that you are passionate about your chosen career. If you're not sure where to start, ask your professors if they have any recommendations. You can also look for opportunities to submit papers or give presentations at conferences.

As with the research aspect, you don’t have to be the lead author. You can also assist with other academics and still be credited. Having publications on your CV could help you to stand out from the competition. It will also show that you are dedicated to research and development in the industry.

7. Attend workshops and events

There are many workshops and events available to engineering students. These can be a great way to learn new skills, meet people in your field and make industry connections. To find out what's happening in your area, check out the calendar of events from your professional organisations or search online.

Be prepared to broaden your horizons when it comes to engineering workshops and events. There may be similar and complementary industries that are offering events that would be beneficial to your career. Keep an open mind and be prepared to explore different industries to help strengthen your skills.

8. Get a part-time job in your field

If you can't find an internship, consider getting a part-time job in your chosen field. This will give you some real-world experience and help you make industry connections. You can search for part-time jobs online or through your professional organisations.

Remember you should always prioritise your education, but if you feel able to handle the extra work, a part-time job could really help to strengthen your CV. Working for a large construction company or engineering firm at weekends could also help you get a foot in the door.

9. Consider staying in education

If you're interested in pursuing a career in academia or research, you may need to get a Master’s degree. This will give you the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of interest and gain valuable research experience. If you're not sure whether a Master’s degree is right for you, talk to your professors or mentors for advice.

A Master’s degree will allow you to continue studying while figuring out the next steps in your career. It could also allow you to specialise in a particular area, which could ensure your application stands out from the crowd when the time comes to look for jobs. Remember that you can return to education at any point in your career, so don’t think that it’s too late if you don’t immediately pursue a higher degree.

Teach yourself new skills

10. Teach yourself new skills

There are many online resources available to help you learn new skills. If there's something you're interested in, try searching for tutorials or taking an online course. You can also find many helpful resources at your local library. Adding new skills to your CV is an excellent way to make sure you stand out.

These skills don’t have to be directly related to your degree or chosen industry. You could learn another language, try a new sport or gain new IT skills. Anything that you choose will simply show employers that you are a self-motivated individual.

11. Stay up to date with new technology

As an engineer, it's important to stay up to date with the latest technology. This will help you to be more efficient in your work and find new ways to solve problems. You can do this by reading industry news, subscribing to tech magazines and following key influencers on social media.

You should also speak to industry professionals to learn about systems and programmes you might need to know about. Getting to grips with these systems before you land your first job will give employers confidence that you’re willing to put in the work to stand out from the crowd.

12. Use online resources

There are many online resources available for engineers. These can be a great way to learn new skills, find solutions to problems and stay up to date with the latest industry news. To get started, explore some of the most popular engineering websites and forums.

Being active in these spaces will give you plenty to talk about in an interview setting, which can help to show employers that you are willing to go the extra mile to stay up-to-date with industry happenings.

13. Find a mentor

A mentor can be a great asset in your career development. They can offer advice, guidance and support when you need it. To find a mentor, start by asking your professors or mentors if they know anyone who might be willing to help you. You can also search for mentorship programs online or through professional organisations.

If you have a part-time job or an internship, try to build a relationship with someone in a position to mentor you. You should also be clear about what you hope to get out of it. Arranging to meet once a month and talk about your career progression is a great place to start.

14. Join a professional organisation

Joining a professional organisation is a great way to meet other engineers and stay up to date with the latest industry news. There are many organisations to choose from, so do some research to find one right for you. If you are thinking about achieving chartered status, it would be a good idea to get involved with the relevant governing body.

Attend conferences

15. Attend conferences

Conferences are a great way to meet other engineers, learn new skills and stay up to date with the latest industry news. To find out what's happening in your area, check out the calendar of events from your professional organisations or search online.

It’s a good idea to attend conferences with a plan in mind. Think about which companies will be attending so you know who to speak to. This will help you to have a productive day and ensure you meet all the people you need to meet.

16. Network with other engineers

Networking is a great way to meet other engineers, learn about new opportunities and find mentors. There are many ways to network, including attending conferences and events, joining professional organisations and connecting with engineers online.

Recent graduates, in particular, can be helpful as they will have an understanding of the current job market and what employers are looking for. Veteran engineers will also be able to offer long-term career advice.

17. Get involved in your community

There are many ways to get involved in your community as an engineer. You can volunteer for local projects, help with STEM programs or mentor students in your field. Getting involved in your community is a great way to give back and make a difference.

If you’re struggling with things to talk about in an interview, volunteer work can be an excellent choice. It’s also a great way to build your communication, leadership and problem-solving skills. If you aren’t a confident leader when you start, sharing your knowledge and expertise will soon help you to hone these skills.

18. Be active on social media

Social media can be a great way to connect with other engineers, stay up to date with the latest industry news and find new opportunities. To get started, follow some of the key influencers in your field and join relevant online groups.

If you’re going to be on social media in a professional capacity, be careful about what you share. Consider what your weekend posts could look like to a potential employer and keep accounts separate if you want to share more personal content or opinions.

19. Start a blog or podcast

If you're interested in sharing your engineering knowledge with others, consider starting a blog or podcast. This is a great way to build your online presence and connect with like-minded people. Plus, it's a great way to learn new skills and stay up to date with the latest industry news.

If your blog ranks well in search engines, you could even attract the attention of hiring managers. Write about anything that interests you in the engineering sector, or consider writing about life as an engineering student. This will allow you to help the next generation of aspiring engineers and give you a chance to share your knowledge and experience as you navigate this next stage in your life.

20. Write an article or book

If you have expertise in a particular area of engineering, consider writing an article or book. This is a great way to share your knowledge with others and establish yourself as an expert in your field. Plus, it's a great way to build your online presence and connect with like-minded people.

Writing articles as an engineering student can also allow you to share your insight with the next generation of young people who are thinking about studying the same subject.

21. Give a presentation or talk

If you're interested in sharing your engineering knowledge with others, consider giving a presentation or talk. This is a great way to build your online presence and connect with like-minded people. Plus, it's a great way to learn new skills and stay up to date with the latest industry news.

You could return to your old high school and share your thoughts on engineering as a career path with youngsters who may be thinking about taking this route. This will enable you to improve your communication and presentation skills, which are both very valuable in the engineering sector.

22. Be open to new opportunities

As an engineer, it's important to be open to new opportunities. You never know where your career will take you, so be prepared to seize every opportunity that comes your way. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities and be willing to explore new avenues. When applying for jobs, don't be too close-minded about what is out there. You don't yet have to specialise in a certain area, so be open to any experiences that come your way.

Closing thoughts

This might seem like a lot to take in, but it’s really just about being open about future opportunities while also looking for new ways to connect with people in your industry. 

Giving back to the community through volunteer work or by giving presentations can be an excellent way to hone your communication skills. 

You can also look for ways to increase your on-the-job experience, including part-time work and internships.

And finally, be part of the conversation. You can easily make connections in the industry through events, conferences and online groups. When you’re part of the conversation, you’ll find that talking about your skills and experience in interviews will become a lot easier, even if you don’t have any direct experience.

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter

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