Where should I apply?
Your research should cover three areas: knowledge of yourself, knowledge of the company and knowledge of roles. You will need to assess the following points:
- Your technical strengths, skills and areas of interest: what do I want to do with my engineering degree?
- Your interests and values: what type of work environment would I like to be in?
- The employers: what they do, their company culture and values, their growth record, their recruitment process, their training and career development opportunities.
- The different roles within engineering. While the core work of all engineers is common – applying scientific and mathematical principles to problems to find practical solutions – the roles vary greatly.
Know what you really want
The successful job candidate is the one who is the closest match to what the organisation is looking for. Applying for jobs and preparing for interviews requires a lot of energy, focus and time, so you need to make sure that the organisations you are applying to offer what you really want. It is very important to know where you want to go with engineering, as your first job can greatly influence the direction your career takes. While large organisations provide structured training and opportunities to gain wide exposure and experience, smaller companies can equally provide great opportunities to engage in varied roles and responsibilities, challenges and rewards.
The trend is for employer deadlines to be earlier – partly due to the competition for graduates and partly so that the recruitment process is completed in time for students to concentrate on exams. Many large firms have early deadlines before Christmas. It's a good tip to start thinking about applications in early September, gathering essential information on employers you are interested in and noting their application deadline. Remember that referees will be asked for, so approach them well in advance.