By Prithvi, Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
It’s so easy to think of your career as something in the future and put off thinking about how to get there. All through school I had no idea what I wanted to do at University, let alone for a job after. Even after a year or two at Uni, I was still not exactly sure what role I was going to apply for, and it was a bit worrying! But as I’m coming to the end of my final year and look back at my Uni experience, I realise that I’ve actually had a lot of experiences and opportunities both in and outside of my course that have helped me to get prepared for the world of work, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
When I initially decided to do Chemical Engineering, it was definitely the only degree I could see myself doing and I felt like I finally had a clear path ahead. The wide variety of sectors and job roles within chemical engineering appealed to me as it allowed me to keep my options fairly open, but still become very skilled and experienced in a technical field. However, during my time at Uni I realised that I actually wanted to do something different when I graduated. It was back to the drawing board to figure out what I wanted to do in the future! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret doing the course one bit – I actually enjoyed it enough to stay on for the Master’s! However, the aspects that I personally lovedwere the more project and business-oriented modules, so it made sense for me to look into a more commercial-type role for when I graduated.
A Chemical Engineering degree from UoB is very valuable in itself as you become very adept at maths and learn a lot about different industries. But I think making the most of Uni and all the other opportunities it provides such as societies, internships and part time jobs can also play a large part in developing transferable (‘soft’) skills and help to build up your CV. In fact, it was through joining the committee as Communications Officer for Carnival RAG, a fundraising society at Uni, that I realised that I enjoyed marketing and communications and saw a potential future for myself in this field. This was effectively the start of my career journey and I built on this by taking on part time work at Uni as a Student Ambassador, joining the Acappella society committee as the Edinburgh Fringe Officer and handling social media for my Acappella group.
Although I had initially joined these societies and part time jobs because of my interests, the opportunities they offered actually helped me to develop and showcase skills that I wouldn’t have been able to through my degree alone. They were also a great way to gain experience in areas outside of my course field.
Now you may be thinking, what use is doing a technical degree if you’re going to go into a commercial role? Well, apart from the communication, teamwork and time management skills I gained from doing the course, the mathematical background is valued by employers even in non-technical roles. It was actually the fact that I was doing a STEM degree that enabled me to get a Virtual Internship in marketing last summer. The combination of my Chemical Engineering background and my extracurricular experience was what gave me the edge!