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    I plan to apply to Imperial College and Cambridge for undergraduate engineering courses and was wondering whether work experience at an engineering/science company is recommended or even necessary. I have seen some sample personal statements and they always mention some sort of work experience. Is it not enough to enjoy and have passion for the subject? Just to be clear, by "work experience" I don't mean a job. I'm talking about a two week work experience placement or taking part in a program like the Engineering Education Scheme. I have done neither of these.

    Thanks in advance
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    It is in no way necessary to have work experience to gain a place, although, more specifically an engineering residential e.g. Headstart would be beneficial, it won't gain you that many more points :p:
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    Wouldn't say it was vital your application but certainly wouldn't harm your chances.
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    But is it one of those things that everyone else will have on their applications?
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    (Original post by jabulaniABC)
    But is it one of those things that everyone else will have on their applications?
    I'd say most people wouldn't have actually. It's hard to get a placement on a site.

    Don't worry about it too much, it's not essential that you have it.
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    i did an enginnering taster week with BAE systems so it may be worth asking any local enginnering firms if they run similar programs
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    (Original post by T kay)
    I'd say most people wouldn't have actually. It's hard to get a placement on a site.

    Don't worry about it too much, it's not essential that you have it.
    What about Headstart and EES? Surely most of the people applying to Oxbridge engineering does it?

    Also, what if you can't do any of these schemes? What else can you do to show your enthusiasm for engineering?
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    (Original post by im so academic)
    What about Headstart and EES? Surely most of the people applying to Oxbridge engineering does it?

    Also, what if you can't do any of these schemes? What else can you do to show your enthusiasm for engineering?
    That isn't the work experience I had in mind. By all means go on them schemes, but actual work experience in a firm or industry isn't essential. Won't do no harm sure but it's not life or death.

    And please, there's plenty of ways to show your enthusiasm for engineering than merely writing you did a week placement at some place.
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    (Original post by T kay)
    That isn't the work experience I had in mind. By all means go on them schemes, but actual work experience in a firm or industry isn't essential. Won't do no harm sure but it's not life or death.

    And please, there's plenty of ways to show your enthusiasm for engineering than merely writing you did a week placement at some place.
    What if you can't get onto those schemes etc?
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    (Original post by im so academic)
    What if you can't get onto those schemes etc?
    I realise why you get so much neg rep.
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    You don't have experience that other people have so you'll have to make up for it with by means. You need some other way of demonstrating the keenness that such schemes would show. Doing lots of reading might be one way, so you can show that you've taken the time to read up on the issues in your chosen engineering area.
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    So, does this mean that most people applying to the unis I am will go in with previous work experience or having done these taster courses? Does it really leave me with a serious disadvantage?

    Besides Headstart and the EES (which it seems I am too late for anyway, seeing as I am applying for entry in 2010), are there any other things you would recommend?

    Is going to university lectures and subject talks useful?

    Thanks for your input guys. I'm sorry if I come off as a bit nervous.
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    engineering does not require any work experience at all to get onto. It is actually one of the easier courses to get an offer for at the top universities (comparatively speaking): I'm at a university that's one of the top overall and for engineering and the engineers are less bright and tend to have worse grads than the mathematicians/ physicists/ chemists/ economists etc at A level and the degree seems to reflect that: it's not an easy degree by any stretch of the imagination, but because so few people study the A levels required for it and a lot of them go for other subjects e.g. natsci/ compsci/ econ/ maths/ physics etc instead for some ,engineering courses can be easier to get onto at top universities which are also top for it and entry standards can be lowered to accommodate you if you (just about) fail to get the grades at A level, although that is probably unlikely with Cambridge and Imperial, but I've heard it happening at several other top universities which do not do it anywhere near as much/ at all for the other subjects that I've mentioned.

    Having said that: work experience will help with interviews etc and look impressive, but similarly other things will look more impressive: they like you to go away and do your own thing: for instance one of my friends who applied to Oxford built a Tesla coil and explained in detail how it was done during his interviews. Another built a fish tank for tropical fish and then kept adding to it and enhacing it. I spent one of my summers doing a supervised science project the results of which got published in nature (ended up doing economics, but that's a long story...)

    If you have the grades though and you don't look like a complete weirdo in your personal statement you should get an offer in engineering (in my experience anyway: bear in mind most people I know who applied did maths further maths physics and often another subject at A2, but a few of them missed their grades both in further maths and physics and still got in to top ten places for it).
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    (Original post by invictus_veritas)
    I'm at a university that's one of the top overall and for engineering and the engineers are less bright and tend to have worse grads than the mathematicians/ physicists/ chemists/ economists etc at A level and the degree seems to reflect that
    Wow, that hit me pretty hard!

    Having taken part in both Physics and Engineering courses I can assure you that Engineering students in no way deserve that misguided opinion.

    If an Engineering student isn't good enough, they won't get a good degree - regardless of their A-levels.
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    (Original post by ColinOfEdinburgh)
    Wow, that hit me pretty hard!

    Having taken part in both Physics and Engineering courses I can assure you that Engineering students in no way deserve that misguided opinion.

    If an Engineering student isn't good enough, they won't get a good degree - regardless of their A-levels.
    Sorry, no offense intended:

    I'm not criticising engineering as a degree: it is by far one of the most useful degrees and best degrees to take and ranks consistently as that in league tables, particularly American ones for the best degree is is often number 1 (I tried to find one such table, but have to go and eat in a minute). In terms of the skills you learn it is possibly the best degree.

    However at my university the entry standards are lower and the calliber of students who get in are lower too and it is one of the easier degrees out of the ones I listed, despite being one of the best engineering departments in the country.

    This may only be the case in my university I admit, but also think that this is quite unlikely.

    Again I'm not saying that engineers who study it at university are not bright: they are extremely bright people and the best ones are easily as bright as the brightest mathematicians/ economists/ scientists etc.

    However having said that the worst ones who gain entry have nowhere near the grades as the worst mathematicians/ scientists (bio and chem) and economists who get in.
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    At Imperial, it's most competitive course is an Engineering discipline, more competitive than Medicine or Maths. I think it depends on where you go, while your University may have a good Engineering department, it might also have one of the best, or even a better, Maths/Economics department, so you're going to get better Mathematicians and Economists.

    Also, because Engineering is less competitive, more of the 'bright' Engineers are going to get into the top Universities, such as Oxbridge and Imperial, whereas with a competitive course like Economics, more students are going to be distributed over more good departments.
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    So then, as long as I show my enthusiasm and ability in my chosen engineering field in some other way, the fact that I have not done a course or work experience will not really concern them?

    Thanks again guys - appreciate the help
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    I was actually wondering the same thing as jabulaniABC. I only recently decided I wanted to do engineering and it was too late to sign up for any of these placements or courses. Are there any people on this forum who go to Imperial or Cambridge (or any other uni for that matter) and take engineering? did you guys do these things?
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    (Original post by jabulaniABC)
    So then, as long as I show my enthusiasm and ability in my chosen engineering field in some other way, the fact that I have not done a course or work experience will not really concern them?
    Hopefully not. Be honest about what got you into engineering in the first place and hopefully you will have no trouble showing your enthusiasm. Maybe you can look back and find suitable stuff that you've done, without even having realised it at the time. For example I used to have a go at computer programming in a completely informal way at home - I mentioned it on my PS as it's still relevant, it's still engineering. Building tesla coils and fish tanks is all very nice but these were probably just things people did as a hobby without even thinking about using it on their university application (and also something for people who have money on their hands).
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    i suppose that makes some sense but i cant help but feel like im at a disadvantage because of it. its seems like hte system punishes you for not making up your mind earlier. if i had known i wanted to do engineering a while ago i wuld have done these programs. oh well
 
 
 
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