So we've given you an insight into the life of an intern, however what about someone who went into a graduate programme? We speak to Jonathan, who tells us about his experiences with Radical Electronics Ltd.
1. How did you get into the job you’re in?
I'm an Electronic Design Engineer working for Radial Electronics Ltd. - http://radial.co.uk/
Radial Electronics is a SME started by one of Scotland’s most Visionary Technology Entrepreneurs who is the inventor of market leading Video Network Transmission products, and an investor in young technology companies.
I work alongside a team of designers, engineers and business people with the common goal of realising ideas into manufacturable products and profitable business solutions.
I got this job through applying on talent Scotland website followed by an interview with the MD of the company and one of his senior engineers. I ultimately got the job as I believe as I showed a genuine interest for past projects I had worked on, and had the right experience and personality to fit in with the team.
2. What do you enjoy about it?
I love using science and technology in creative ways to solve problems. I am fascinated by the fact that at any one point in time during a project you may be the first person to have encountered or solved a specific problem... not quite as cool as discovering a new country but rewarding nonetheless.
The job is extremely varied which too which I like. Some days I might be using CAD to design the physical layout of a circuit. Other days I feel more like a legal professional navigating and debating the nuance points of technical documentation and how it effects our approach.
Other days are more creative and I get to conceptualise new product ideas for a wide range of problems either myself or as part of a team. The job is good blend of working with others and on your own so perfect for someone who enjoys being around others but also likes time to themselves.
In electronics, there are often times of intense work but there are also less stressful and creative times - so it’s a good work balance and the remuneration is great as well.
3. What are the routes into the job you’re in?
To get a job as an electronic engineer, most companies require that you need a Bachelor’s degree in engineering. You can certainly further your qualifications by doing a Master’s degree or PHD, but they are certainly not vital.
Ultimately to get a job as an engineer, what most companies want is the right person and skills for any one position. Character or personality is something that you can't necessarily change, however it can be a guide for what job you might want to do i.e. do you want to be a specialist in a big company? or more of a generalist in a smaller company.
As for getting the right skills - if you can’t get them in your current job or school situation - then doing electronics projects in your spare time for other start-up companies or simply working on your own ideas is invaluable in building the skills you need for a specific job. If you can present your work properly it will show that you are committed and interested enough in electronics to sacrifice your spare time to get ahead and you will stand out in any interview. YouTube and forums provide a number of tutorials for learning any specific engineering skills to help you with your projects.
Once you have a job in electronics, you will need to do a few years of work as a graduate or junior engineer, before advancing to a mid-level or senior engineer.
4. What would you say to your ‘graduate’ self if you could go back in time?
I would say really focus on your talents and strengths, and don’t worry about inexperience.
A graduate is never going to be able to beat a seasoned professional in many areas, however there may be new technologies or skills that you excel at that someone with more experience wont.
Don't downplay your personality and character too - being the right fit of personality can be just as advantageous than merely the right technical skills.
Don't believe that your career is a linear path either, by diligently working away day by day and you can make linear progress. Focusing on the right things intensely can get you ahead of the game much quicker than one might have thought was possible. So, pick your battles well when choosing the right project or job to invest your efforts in.
5. What are your strategies for looking for work?
Before looking for a job any graduate needs to try and have a handle of what technologies and markets are emerging and which ones are diminishing.
As well as that, what skills are becoming more and more utilised - don't go for jobs that might be stolen by cheaper labour overseas, or dare I say it a robot in the next few years.
Once you have figured out what sort of role, company or technology you want to work on then obviously google is the first port of call, or speaking to other people in your field to find a position that is of interest to you.
Once you have found a role you must prepare well - there are a number of a techniques about interview preparation that I won’t delve into, but keep in mind the focusing question of - 'What is the one reason why you are the best person for this job?' Any job description usually asks for a perfect and non-existent candidate. Reverse this and figure out and confidently know the one reason why you could do this job better than another candidate, and then get good at clearly and confidently communicating that to your prospective employer.
A massive thank you to Jonathan to Jonathan for taking his time to answer our questions. We hope this will give you some insight into what could be in store for you, and has provided you with some useful tips on how to make it in your chosen industry!
Remember... Think different, Be different.