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 Sinead Kenny from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

Sinead Kenny

Design Engineer

Smart Futures

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Sinead Kenny
If it is possible to get some work experience during the summer holidays or weekends, it would be great. Find out if there are any positions (voluntary or otherwise) available in your local IT or University. Get involved in a hobby such as model making, this would be very helpful as it would help with dexterity & impart an understanding of the ways in which different materials interact when assembled together.
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Realist?
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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Self Assessment

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Career Values

We all value different things - some of us value independance over security, or money over creativity. Being clear about what you value will help you select an occupation or employer that will allow you to express yourself best.

Value self assessments measure how important different values are to you. There are no definitive tests as values can be very personal, so tests often measure different sets of values.

Useful Links

Career Values Test [US] 
Provided by Stewart, Cooper & Coon, this test identifies core values and allows you to sort them into a prioritised list. No registration, Free.
MyPlan.com Values Test [US] 
The Values Test can help you learn more about your underlying work needs and motivations, and can help you decide what is important to you in a job. Registration required, Free.
Barretts Personal Values Assessment 
A short self-assessment that provides a free report elaborating on the values selected.

Paper Based Assessments

You can download a number of self assessments from the links below.

Skills:
Use the exercise on this downloadable worksheet to discover the most sought after skills needed to get jobs in the modern workplace. By rating yourself on these skills, you can see where your strengths and weaknesses may lie. Then, you can look for opportunities to develop and practice your underdeveloped skills.

Download:
Worksheet - Career Skills Self-Assessment
[pdf - 540Kb, 4 pages]
Download Self-Assement Worksheet

Career Interests
Use the exercise on this downloadable worksheet to identify where your interests lie. This exercise takes no more than 10 min to complete and can help identify what career interest groups you are most interested in.

Download:
Worksheet - Career Interests Self-Assessment
[pdf - 97Kb, 1 page]
Download Self-Assement Worksheet

Values
This brief exercise helps to clarify your values according to six commonly used categories.
Download:
Worksheet - Values Self-Assessment
[pdf - 145Kb, 2 pages]
Download Self-Assement Worksheet