(Original post by mattheywood94)
Hi I'm planning on studying mech eng at uni and was just wondering how my career would be effected if i decided to get tattoos and piercings. Thanks for any help.
In my opinion, it's not really a good idea.
I know it does not make any difference to your academic ability. As an engineer though, depending on the path of your career after you leave uni, you will come into contact with many people from different cultural backgrounds.
Whilst the UK is quite liberal, there will be people who do not understand and will be quite judgemental. That may limit your career opportunities and you will have difficulty asserting your rights. (A foreign client may say they do not want you on the team for instance).
Piercings are also be a safety hazard. Chemicals (cleaning agents, oils, etching compounds etc.) getting trapped may cause irritation or infection. They risk getting caught in moving parts. Metal objects increase the risk of electrocution when working on high voltage electrical installations/ high power RF installations etc.
It raises all kinds of issues with emplyers liability, insurances etc.
Companies want people, who in their opinion, have good career prospects/management potential and display an attitude aligned with those aims. To that end they are more likely to play safe and err on the side of caution.
Displaying tattoos and piercings may eliminate you from any interview selection processes.
Of course their will be some companies who have a progressive attitude and will not mind.
But......can you afford to take that chance in todays let alone future job markets?
A lot of companies will want "blank canvas" individuals. Someone who has their own personality, but is able to adopt the characteristics of the company. Having tattoos and piercings may make this difficult, especially as your role may involve providing presentations to prospective customers whom may not appreciate your style.
As mentioned, piercings can be a potential hazard, but there's nothing wrong with having a sense of identity at university and outside of work. Just make sure they can be easily removed (I would avoid tunnels as they are still highly visible when removed). Tattoos should ideally not be visible and you may wear a short-sleeved shirt or polo as part of your uniform, so be prepared for that. Don't assume that wrists or forearms will be covered all the time at work.
I don't think I've seen the topic be raised in interviews or online applications (if they did, I probably skimmed past because it didn't concern me much), but obviously try to make sure they won't be inappropriate now or in the future. Whatever you end up doing, wear it smartly.
I'll second this. there is no problem with them per se, but having obvious ones will limit your options. Piercings can be a hazard, particularly in this day and age where you can be asked to wear a hard hat if there is some overhead work happening a mile from your location. It's not just "what if they got caught in a machine with you still attached" but also "what could they mess up if they fell out into a product." We don't accept watches, rings, earings, anything on the aero side of the business I work in. Don't underestimate the importance some companies will attach to health and safety - even if it means the job will take 3x longer and cost 8x more, they'll probably do it to avoid being sued.
Down in manufacturing and the shop floor where I work, tattoos are two a dozen. Come up to the design offices, and you'll be the odd one out. It's an industry with predominantly traditional values - there are companies out there who wont care, but for every one of those there will be 4 who do and may count it against you. You're not going to get "Piercings and Tattoos" as a reason on your rejection letter, but first impressions make a big deal in interviews and you can easily deflect the attention to your appearance rather than your ability which is what we're actually interested in. Interviews in my firm are generally done by senior management who represent the epitome of middle aged, conservative voting, whats-wrong-with-todays-youth type individuals. They're not going to discriminate because they can't by law, but that isn't going to stop them finding a legitimate reason not to consider you and weighting it heavily due to preconcieved ideas. Interview techniques and guides are all about presenting yourself in a way that doesn't draw out bias in the interviewers - and all too often in large companies, the person who interviews you will be nothing to do with the people you end up working for. No one said it was fair, it's just the real world.
So echo the above -go for it at uni, but ensure that you can revert to a professional appearance if you don't want to limit your options.