The Student Room Group

Unhappy with engineering career progression. Any advice?

Hi, first of all sorry if this isn't the correct place for this discussion, I just preferred to remain anonymous for this.

I just feel like I need a bit of advice because 2 years ago I graduated with a First in Mechanical Engineering from a top 10 uni here in the UK and technically that should mean that I'm capable of finding a good job etc. but I have just been really disappointed with the opportunities I have seen in the job market/industry.

I only have a year of work experience at a very well regarded automotive company so far but in that time I've realised that career progression in mechanical engineering seems really poor. The workload is quite large, working hours are relatively long with unpaid overtime in most companies I have seen so far and it's easy to feel stuck at the company because there is little room to grow into another role unless the manager leaves to a different company. Even then it is common to find a whole office of people who are all equally qualified and all doing the same day to day tasks so it creates this bottleneck where people can easily stay in their current job title for 5-10 years.

I guess the advice I need is whether what I have seen so far is really commonplace throughout the industry? OR maybe I have just been biased due to a bad experience. Sometimes the job we do feels futile when 10 other people in your office are doing the exact same thing. I feel like sometimes I would have a better time doing a technician's job instead of the engineer's job because at least you wouldn't be staring at the computer all day every day and it would be more hands on. Maybe I also keep comparing to my time at university when every single day was different and you had to be a jack of all trades because of the range of subjects whereas now at work everything is a lot more tedious and slow and makes you feel locked into one specific area of expertise.

Maybe this is just a rant but if there is any advice that comes to mind please let me know, thanks!
I understand your frustration and concerns about the current state of your career in mechanical engineering. It's not uncommon to feel disillusioned or disappointed when the reality of a job doesn't align with your expectations. Let's address your concerns and explore some potential avenues for improvement:

Job Market and Industry Opportunities: It's important to note that the job market and industry landscape can vary depending on various factors, including location, economic conditions, and industry specialization. It's possible that the opportunities you've come across so far may not fully represent the breadth of options available. Consider broadening your search by exploring different sectors within mechanical engineering, such as aerospace, energy, robotics, or consulting. Networking with professionals in the field and attending industry events can also provide valuable insights into potential career paths and hidden opportunities.

Career Progression: While it's true that some organizations may have limited upward mobility or hierarchical structures, it's not a universal characteristic of the entire industry. Look for companies that emphasize career development and have clear paths for growth. This could include organizations with defined mentorship programs, opportunities for continuing education and training, or a track record of promoting internal talent. Researching and targeting such companies can increase your chances of finding a position with better long-term prospects.

Work-Life Balance and Job Satisfaction: The concerns you raised about workload, long hours, and limited variation in daily tasks are valid. It's crucial to prioritize your work-life balance and find a role that aligns with your values and interests. While some positions may demand more hours during specific phases or projects, it's important to assess the overall culture of the organization and whether it supports employee well-being. Look for companies that prioritize work-life balance, provide flexible working arrangements, and foster a positive and supportive work environment.

Explore Different Roles and Specializations: If you're feeling restricted by your current role, consider exploring different roles or specializations within mechanical engineering. This could involve seeking projects or tasks that allow you to apply your skills in new and diverse ways. Speak with colleagues or managers to express your interests and explore potential opportunities for cross-functional collaboration or project involvement.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development: If you miss the variety and intellectual stimulation of university, consider pursuing continuous learning and professional development opportunities. This could involve attending workshops, conferences, or seminars, or enrolling in additional courses or certifications to expand your skill set and knowledge base. Developing expertise in emerging fields or technologies can open up new avenues for career growth and increase your marketability.

Remember, it's never too late to make a change or reassess your career path. Take the time to reflect on your long-term goals, interests, and values. Seek advice from mentors, professionals, and career counselors who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. By proactively exploring different options and remaining open to new opportunities, you can find a path that aligns with your aspirations and leads to a more fulfilling career.
Original post by TheScreamingLama
I understand your frustration and concerns about the current state of your career in mechanical engineering. It's not uncommon to feel disillusioned or disappointed when the reality of a job doesn't align with your expectations. Let's address your concerns and explore some potential avenues for improvement:

Job Market and Industry Opportunities: It's important to note that the job market and industry landscape can vary depending on various factors, including location, economic conditions, and industry specialization. It's possible that the opportunities you've come across so far may not fully represent the breadth of options available. Consider broadening your search by exploring different sectors within mechanical engineering, such as aerospace, energy, robotics, or consulting. Networking with professionals in the field and attending industry events can also provide valuable insights into potential career paths and hidden opportunities.

Career Progression: While it's true that some organizations may have limited upward mobility or hierarchical structures, it's not a universal characteristic of the entire industry. Look for companies that emphasize career development and have clear paths for growth. This could include organizations with defined mentorship programs, opportunities for continuing education and training, or a track record of promoting internal talent. Researching and targeting such companies can increase your chances of finding a position with better long-term prospects.

Work-Life Balance and Job Satisfaction: The concerns you raised about workload, long hours, and limited variation in daily tasks are valid. It's crucial to prioritize your work-life balance and find a role that aligns with your values and interests. While some positions may demand more hours during specific phases or projects, it's important to assess the overall culture of the organization and whether it supports employee well-being. Look for companies that prioritize work-life balance, provide flexible working arrangements, and foster a positive and supportive work environment.

Explore Different Roles and Specializations: If you're feeling restricted by your current role, consider exploring different roles or specializations within mechanical engineering. This could involve seeking projects or tasks that allow you to apply your skills in new and diverse ways. Speak with colleagues or managers to express your interests and explore potential opportunities for cross-functional collaboration or project involvement.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development: If you miss the variety and intellectual stimulation of university, consider pursuing continuous learning and professional development opportunities. This could involve attending workshops, conferences, or seminars, or enrolling in additional courses or certifications to expand your skill set and knowledge base. Developing expertise in emerging fields or technologies can open up new avenues for career growth and increase your marketability.

Remember, it's never too late to make a change or reassess your career path. Take the time to reflect on your long-term goals, interests, and values. Seek advice from mentors, professionals, and career counselors who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. By proactively exploring different options and remaining open to new opportunities, you can find a path that aligns with your aspirations and leads to a more fulfilling career.


Hi thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I think you raised some really good points and things that I can start doing straight away to land a better job opportunity. It is also true that at the moment we seem to be stuck in a difficult time for the job market and I am not in a great position since I'm not exactly a graduate but then don't have many years of experience either.

A question that came to mind was just how favourably/unfavourably do companies look at people who move around a bit to gain more experience, in your opinion? I feel like I was always brought up with the concept that you have to land the perfect role straight away and stick in the same place for 10+ years to be able to progress your career but now from within the industry, it feels like I see people changing companies and even industry sectors all the time. I mention this because I feel like there is even more pressure on top of everything like I have to make sure I land the perfect job at the right company, and what happens if I get it wrong? or if I simply don't like the industry or even more basic than that what if I don't like the town where the job is located?

A big issue I feel right now is I feel stuck because as a young professional I realise that I will probably earn within the graduate salary range, but well-regarded engineering companies in the UK are normally located either in cities where I would have to spend the majority of my salary in accommodation (if not shared accommodation), or they are large factories in random towns where life can feel quite isolated. So an option might be to spend a couple years in the isolated town developing experience so I can then apply to a higher-salary job at the larger company in a larger city and be able to live more comfortably there. But again I am not sure this idea of going into a job knowing I only will be there a couple of years will affect my career in the long term. Or maybe I am meant to sacrifice my salary and living arrangements now and just go for the job at the big company in the big city from the start :s-smilie:

Thanks again for your reply and sorry for taking so long to get back to you!
(edited 11 months ago)

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending