Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Elva Bannon from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

Elva Bannon

Mechatronic Engineer

Smart Futures

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Elva Bannon

I found having education in a number of different areas of engineering to be beneficial to the work I am doing.

There is a whole world of possibilities out there for engineers, and it is difficult to know what subjects are necessary for the industry you will end up in. I was always interested in robotics and environmental issues, but it was not until my Masters that I really knew what I wanted to do.

General entry courses are quite useful, as you get a taste for a few different areas before you have to specialise, a lot of companies offer on the job training, and there is also the possibility of further study.

An engineering qualification teaches you so much more than just the technical subjects, but a way of looking at the world and solving problems in a logical and systematic way.

Engineers are sought after for these skills as much as the technical ones, and it opens up incredible opportunities. Engineering is not an easy route through college, but it is incredibly rewarding.

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The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
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Claire O'Hara - Civil Engineer

Claire O’Hara tells Smart Futures about her work at Arup.

What does Arup do?

We design everything from hospitals to motorways. It is one of the biggest consultant engineering firms in Ireland, with about 380 engineers and planners here, but 12,000 staff globally.

Describe a typical work day?

I’m currently managing a tunnel project in Sweden. Our design team is in the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Dublin. A typical day might involve video conferencing, travel, teleconferences and email, as well as staying on top of technical issues.

What are your favourite parts of the job?

Every day is different and the technical challenges are never the same. You might think of engineering as technical, but communication skills are really important. The knowledge you need is in people’s heads. I love that every day is different and also that people part.

What’s most challenging?

The most difficult is probably the nicest part too: working with so many people. Somebody always has the answer for a technical issue, but it is about finding that person. Why did you choose civil engineering in NUI Galway? I’d wanted to be a civil engineer from age 13. But when I was 18 I wasn’t 100% sure. I chose non-denominated engineering for first year, which gives you a flavour of all types of engineering. By April I knew civil engineering was for me.

Which parts of the course did you enjoy most?

I liked the numerical analysis and geotechnical engineering. Concrete is man-made and there is a formula behind it; working with soil and rock is more unpredictable. I did two years research on it in NUIG after my degree. What was your first job after university? I was a graduate engineer in Arup’s geotechnical team. After 18 months I went to work in our Australian office in the oil and gas industry. The work was really exciting.

Who most influenced your career path?

I really liked maths, physics and sciences. My cousins were in engineering and their jobs seemed to match what I liked. My parents helped me a lot in deciphering what I wanted as a career. What advice would you give students considering civil engineering? Study honours maths and applied maths for the Leaving Cert. It will make life easier in college.

Why did you do an MBA in the UCD Michael Smurfit Business School?

I was always interested in business and economics. I wanted to learn more so opted for an MBA. What do you do in your free time? I run, play Gaelic football and sweat it out at bikram yoga.

Article by: Smart Futures