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Posts from December 2008

Simple Twist of Fate

Monday 15th December 2008

I mentioned previously that I’ve been made redundant from my job. I also mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get another job in Engineering, but that the odds were better than I initially expected.

I’ve been studying Civil Engineering for the last 2 years. It’s a fairly broad field, but basically it’s concerned with any sort of construction; be that of buildings, roads, bridges, railways… When you go out and work there are basically two main fields you can choose to work in. In my current (for the rest of the week) job, I’m working for a firm of consulting engineers. What that means is that they design the building; do all the calculations to make sure it stands up and things like that. Mostly office work. The other field you can choose to work in is contracting engineering, and that really does involve working in a field… They’re the ones who work on-site with the builders and whoever to hopefully make sure it’s built properly, on time and in budget.

When I was deciding what type of work I wanted to do in my placement year (and thereafter), I focused on consulting. I think because I didn’t like the idea of having to be outside when it’s cold and rainy, but to be honest I don’t think I put that much thought into it. When I spoke to the people at the university who run the year placements after being made redundant, they said that it was more likely I’d get a job in contracting, because they’re still doing jobs – if they’ve started building something, they don’t just stop half way through…

Anyway, I realised that I’d never really given it much thought in the past. But as I started thinking about the pros and cons of contracting, I was starting to think that I could really enjoy it. Not that I don’t enjoy working in the consultancy, but being able to do both in the space of a year is a really good opportunity to be able to see which one I want to do when I graduate.

So, I had an interview for a firm of contracting engineers a couple of weeks ago, and got the job. I start at the end of January (hopefully… The site I’m meant to be working on in Cardiff was meant to start in October, so the guy who interviewed me said theres a slight chance it could slip again). Basically, I’ve pretty much lucked into a job which I could potentially enjoy more, has better opportunities for sponsorship/graduate employment (and which pays substantially more. I know it’s very un-British to mention money, but meh). The downsides being longer hours, and that it’s bloody cold outside…

It’s amusing to me how little employers seem to care about my degree (or, indeed, how irrelevant much of my degree is to my working life). I mentioned in the interview the other week that I’d had to drop down to a Bachelors instead of a Masters, cos my grades were a bit crap. His response? “Well, we don’t really care. Those are all just bits of paper”. My current (for the rest of the week) boss said the other day that it’s much more important to him as an employer for people he interviews to be able to communicate well, rather than be amazingly qualified. They can teach the technical stuff, they can’t teach you how to communicate well. In a lot of ways, the experience I got from working for the Bank has been much more useful to me than what I’ve learned in two years of uni. Draw your own conclusions from this paragraph on my attitudes to University, because I’ve strayed from the point I was going to make.

Basically, I’ve been pretty lucky. Because I lost my job, I’ve ended up with a really good placement year and the possibility of completely re-assessing my career plans. It’s a funny old world.

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