I found the 6 month industrial work experience included in the engineering undergraduate course in 3rd year to be fundamental to my success to date – it opened my eyes to the professional engineering world. Time management was also a skill acquired – lateness is not accepted. The value of further education/learning is also paramount: I have completed courses in PRINCE2 project management, PSCS/PSDP, management of risk, health and safety and occupational first aid; all which feed into my day-to-day working life (however occupational first aid has yet to be called upon thankfully!).
I completed my industrial work experience in EirGrid Plc., the Irish transmission system operator. After a successful internship, I proposed that I complete my final year project under the joint supervision of Maynooth University and EirGrid Plc. My project defined a method of varying the current-carrying capacity of transmission power lines based on the weather conditions.
After I completed university, I was 1 of 5 engineers employed by ESB Networks on the engineering graduate development programme which commenced in September 2010. I completed 3 x 12 month placements in transmission line construction, underground networks asset management and High Voltage (HV) substation design. I continued working in the HV construction area and on my 4th working anniversary I was successful in obtaining a promotion to senior engineer. Now, after 5 years working for ESB Networks I am fulfilling a project manager role.
I am currently managing a €12 million 220kV substation reconfiguration project in north Dublin. This project involved significant reinforcement of the electrical plant within the substation including an overhaul of the current foul/drainage system, a new 220kV bay connection and two 220kV wing couplers.
My day-to-day activities includes contractor management (ensuring civil and electrical works on site are completed on-time and to standard), examining project specifics and costs (completing work to budget), stakeholder management (accurate communication to all interested project parties) and completing quality and safety audits.
The value of industrial work experience is not to be under-estimated: this affords you the opportunity to showcase your skills to a given company (that based on your performance may want to hire you when you graduate), helps with career networking going forward and I feel, that a CV referee from a manager where you worked is more valuable and accurate that a referee from an university lecturer.
For the first few years please do not be focused solely on the financial aspect of a given job; the training and development afforded to you in your first few years will pay off greatly in the long run. When selecting a job after graduating, as a priority, examine what training you will receive and the variety of this training (on-the-job training, courses, further college/university qualifications, attending courses/seminars etc.).