How Do I Get an Engineering Graduate Job
Online sources have approximated that the engineering sector accounts for almost 35,000 jobs in Singapore, and is always on the lookout for more professionals to accommodate the nation’s growth.
Regardless, competition continues to remain stiff, with well-known graduate employers attracting plenty of applications, although SME engineering firms are also gaining traction as SPRING Singapore assists them in their growth.
Here is a basic guide to help job-seeking graduates address their concerns.
What are the different areas of work?
Engineering graduates are welcome in many areas, such as aerospace, automotive, chemicals, electronic, and rail. They are also greatly valued in industries where machines and technologies are involved, such as FMCG, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
Depending on the industry, engineering roles can vary in scale from the development of nanotechnologies and electronic devices, to the construction of grand structures like refineries or a field of solar panels.
How can I get a job with an engineering company?
Employers greatly value graduates who can contribute to the company with a good mix of technical knowledge and commercial awareness.
Larger recruiters will typically hire through graduate training programmes, which can be competitive. Having previous work experience – whether gained through internships, industrial placements, or part-time jobs with related employers – can give you an edge over other applicants.
Smaller firms, on the other hand, tend to hire directly into specific entry-level roles.
What qualifications and skills do I need?
While the industry does welcome graduates from all disciplines for more commercial positions, specific engineering roles require a relevant engineering degree.
Employers may be selective of the education level of their applicants as well. While some are open to recruiting graduates from both BEng and MEng degrees, other industry employers will only hire graduates with a MEng.
Graduates may also want to consider training to become a chartered engineer, where you can be part of the Chartered Engineer (Singapore) Registry. The programme was set up to help distinguish professional engineers.
Recruiters also look out for a variety of soft skills, including:
- Communication skills – written and verbal
- Problem-solving ability
- Analytical skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Commercial awareness
- Attention to details
- The ability to learn quickly
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Enthusiasm and motivation
What does the application process involve?
Major engineering firms typically prefer online applications from their careers page or job portals, whereas smaller firms accept CVs and cover letters via email. Once your application is processed, you’ll usually be invited for a series of interviews (general and technical), tests (numerical, personality, verbal reasoning, etc.), and/or an assessment centre.
When should I apply?
Unlike most financial and banking institutions which offer graduate programmes with fixed application deadlines, many engineering employers have “open” recruitment cycles where they accept applications until all vacancies have been filled. That said, a number of them do keep annual deadlines, especially when coordinating a regional/international graduate programme.
Smaller firms also usually hire graduates directly into a specific position as and when it’s needed, so be sure to monitor online portals, job boards, and newspapers as often as possible.
What training and development opportunities do employers offer?
Training and development is a high priority in the sector, and employers typically offer professional courses or graduate schemes to help develop engineers. With the government placing emphasis on the Continuing Education and Training (CET) programme, this has become even more important.
What are the working life and hours like?
The job scope and working hours of an engineer is very dependent on the industry that you are in. You might find yourself deskbound, clearing tasks such as calculations and preparing proposals all day, spending time outside of the office overseeing work in a manufacturing facility/construction site, or holding meetings with clients.
Depending on the role, engineers can have a relatively good work-life balance, although you might have to put in extra hours whenever deadlines approach.
Mobility is also increasingly important as you may have to travel for client meetings, business trips, or extended placements abroad.
What are the highs and the lows?
Graduate engineers get the chance to work with experienced engineers in multidisciplinary teams and explore cutting edge technology. They also find personal satisfaction in working on intellectually and practically challenging problems. Knowing that their work can benefit society is another plus point.
Engineers may also be required to travel often, which can be both exciting and taxing at the same time.
The sector is also sometimes beset with strict regulations and standard operating procedures, often leading to tedious paperwork. In addition to that, work can get frustrating as projects may be abandoned halfway due to a sudden withdrawal of funds.
What other jobs can engineering graduates do?
Obtaining an engineering degree exposes you to a range of transferable skills such as problem solving, logical thinking, and high-level numeracy skills. This makes engineering graduates very desirable candidates not just for the engineering sector, but also for sectors such as finance, IT, and consultancy.
Graduates can also opt for commercial roles in the engineering sector, such as procurement, technical sales, operations management, supply chain management, and logistics as they can provide further insights into the job with their industry knowledge.
Alternatively, one can start out in a technical position to gain more experience before switching to another business area later on in his career (e.g. management or business functions).