I attended a networking panel event, hosted by the incredible Women in Engineering society, where there were guest speakers, some who had graduated from the University of Sheffield and are now in great positions in corporate companies, such as Rolls-Royce, BuroHappold Engineering, Mott MacDonald and British Steel.
The panelists talked about why placements, summer internships and year in industries are very important when securing graduate roles in corporate companies. They explained how obtaining a placement is quite demanding and difficult but you just have to persevere with the stages of the process and to keep applying to as many roles as you can. As Engineering has many fields, Sarah Emmins, a Graduate Trainee in Research and Development for British Steel, expressed the importance of finding out the area of your discipline you don’t like, by experiencing different fields, in order to move forward and find out which field you would like to work in.
Kerthaana Ganesh, a Business Operations Analyst at RBS, highlighted how soft skills, such as team work, communication and self-motivation are just as important as technical skills, such as problem solving. She explained how everyone who is applying for internships or placements will have a certain level of competency in the required field so the exciting things you do outside of academia is what will set you apart.
From attending the event, I understood why networking is the key to getting ahead. Knowing inspirational people and connecting is vital if you wish to get a head start. Once you have your foot in the door, you have an opportunity to showcase your talents and abilities, which will ultimately get you to higher places. So, if your department or a particular course-related society is hosting a networking event, I would strongly advise you to go, especially if you are studying a STEM degree as networking will lead you to greater opportunities.
I found the event very motivating and it was the push I really needed to get ahead. As a first year Chemical Engineer, I learnt how important it is to continuously develop your professionalism via networking, industry experience and just generally being enthusiastic about what you are learning and wanting to constantly improve and learn daily. Personally, I wasn’t sure about how I could strengthen my competency as an engineer and, from this event, I realised it’s all about gaining as much experience as you can, whether it be exposure to industry or joining a society or engaging in sports or volunteering to develop my soft skills, which can easily be transferred within the engineering discipline.