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 Damien Mason from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Damien Mason

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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Damien Mason

If you are really interested in people and have good interpersonal skills, you will find this job very rewarding.

Like a lot of jobs, you will not be using all the theoretical knowledge you gained in University or College, but you will develop significant management potential and the environment is stimulating and rewarding.

As an engineer, you will probably spend about 50% of your time in the office, and the other 50% out in the plant.

You should also expect that you may be asked if you are willing to travel abroad. This would be very attractive to most people, and a definite means to gain great experience, but it may not suit everyone.

You should ideally be a balanced person, someone with a good deal of technical knowledge, but also a good ability to deal with people.

Responsibility and challenges will be given to you from day one, and if you can handle the pressure, you will gain more and more responsibilities, ultimately leading you to gain invaluable experience, and undoubtedly onto a successful management position.

With the global nature of ICL's parent company CRH, this could be yours in Ireland or one of many countries worldwide.

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The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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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