Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Graduate Careers Fair, RDS

The gradireland graduate careers fair is on today at the RDS in Dublin.  Engineers Ireland has a stand,  manned by Alec McAllister from the Clyde Road team.   I gave a one hour invited seminar.

It was my first time attending the fair,  and I was a little unsure what to expect.   The room allocated to me was quite small,  and only about 35 people could fit in,  including having to sit on the floor.   Meanwhile,  people were having to be turned away outside the door in the corridor,  because we just didn't have enough space..

Next door,  Tim Hynes of Microsoft,  was giving a talk on opportunities in the IT industry:  I think it strange that gradireland chose to put both Engineering and IT talks concurrently.  There are clearly other slots on the seminar timetable which could have been used to ensure that two overlapping professions were not presented at the same time.

So,  I think gradireland could have organised the seminars a little better - much larger rooms,  and care with the seminar timetable.


Because of the small and intimate audience,  on the spur of the moment I thought my prepared powerpoint presentation inappropriate.  So instead,  after a short introduction about myself and my own career,  I then went around the room and asked each person "what was the top question on your mind,  what do you want to ask me ?".   Collecting all these responses,  I then answered them as best as I could.  They related to what Engineers Ireland is all about,  what are the advantages in joining,  how can we help with careers,  paths to Chartered Engineering,  CPD,  our Engineers TV webex series,  and relationship to our sister organisations overseas.  There were questions on job opportunities across a range of Engineering sectors.  We discussed whether or not a Masters degree can help a career.  We talked about the pros and cons of joining a large multinational as a first job,  rather than a smaller company.  We talked about the importance or otherwise of having already had job experience,  perhaps over summer vacations.   We talked about international experience,  and the importance of learning another language - I suggested that short intensive courses can be beneficial while one is searching for a job.   We talked about the relationship between business and engineering,  and how many engineers naturally move into project management and business organisation during their careers.   Most of all I emphasised the likelihood of multiple jobs during a typical career,  and the need to keep current with professional development.

It was obviously an intensive Q&A session,  and I hope those who came along got some benefit.

Meanwhile,  out in the exhibition area,  Bord Gais Eireann, SITA, Unilever, GE Energy, SAP, Colgate Palmolive, Stryker Instruments, Microsoft,  NYSE Euronext, PayPal Europe and Ericsson were all amongst the employers seeking engineers of one category or another.  I briefly visited each of their stands before my seminar session,  to get a sense of their offerings to graduate engineers.

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