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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Realist
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Bob Lawlor - Electronic Engineer

What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?

My subject choices for the Leaving Cert were important, e.g. doing Higher Level Maths, Physics and Applied Maths. When I finished college in 1984 there were no jobs in Ireland so I went to the UK and got a great job (R&D engineer with Sony). This was a big milestone. I would recommend overseas experience but try to get a good qualification before going!

What’s cool about your job?

Because electronic engineering can be applied to pretty much anything, I can get involved in research in anything which interests me. For example, I’m currently working with an outside company to develop an iPhone App.

What’s not so cool?

Correcting exams and assignments. Thankfully that’s not too often.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

My PhD was in digital audio signal processing and this helped me develop the technical skills which I need for my current lecturing and research activities. Also, my work with Sony in the UK and Japan as an R&D engineer was a great learning experience in many ways.

What is your education to date?

BSc in Electrical/Electronic engineering (DIT 1984) MSc in Electronic engineering (TCD 1994) PhD in Electronic engineering (UCD 2000) MSc in Applied eLearning (DIT 2010) – I did this part-time over the past three years. It helps with my lecturing work as we do a lot of course delivery online.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Seeing a product which I designed and developed actually being sold – for $30,000! Also, solving some difficult design problems in the process. What is your dream job? Something related to music signal processing. The nice thing about my current job is that I can run final-year and postgraduate projects related to music signal processing and also carry out research in this area myself.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Any project-based work experience. We regularly have Transition Year students in for short projects. These give a good idea of what’s involved in the job. I generally try to customise these projects to the interests of the student.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Enthusiasm, good communication skills (written and verbal) and time-management skills. What advice would you give someone considering this job? The career which you’ll do best in is the one which you feel most enthusiastic about. It still takes a lot of hard work to do well, but hard work isn’t hard if you’re very enthusiastic about it.

Article by: Smart Futures