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 Jason Ruane from Intel to give some advice for people considering this job:
Possibly useful qualities/interests:
A predisposition towards technical problems, such as puzzles or machinery. An interest in the nature of how things work, such as the desire to disassemble machinery/gadgetry to unlock its inner workings.
An inventive side; one who uses the parts of other gadgets, to make a new personalised gadget. Interested in high tech gear: gadgetry of all forms.
A capacity to learn processes for oneself e.g. seeing a puzzle solved and then repeating it.
Skills: Technical subjects such as Maths or electronics. Programming is very accessible to anyone with a basic home PC and some internet connection so try it out and see if you like it.
Values: If you value the solving of an intricate, convoluted problem, for it's own sake and find that rewarding, then any engineering job will come easily.
Education: Firm basis in Maths and the sciences. People are hired into engineering positions here from backgrounds such as science and computing primarily.
What are your interests?
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.
You might be surprised to know that you already have many of the skills which are essential for employment in the modern workplace.
These are not the specific knowledge based skills you would learn during an apprenticeship, in college or at work, but the ‘transferable skills’ which we all need to use when we work with other people, on projects or even by ourselves. You develop these skills simply from being involved in everyday activities. They are not formally ‘taught’ in school, but they may develop there, at home, or through your hobbies, activities, and friendships.
Introduction to Career Skills by Brian Mooney
The skills we are talking about are quite ordinary, that’s why we don’t usually notice them. These ‘ordinary’ skills are so taken for granted that we seldom make any effort to improve or develop them. Terms such as ‘communication skills’, ‘people skills’ and ‘organisation skills’ are just some of the many skills which most people develop without even knowing about it.
Why are they important?
Lets put it this way. Two equally qualified people have applied for a job as a scientist. At the job interview, each is asked if they think that they would be good at the job. The first person answers with a simple “yes”, the second one also answers “yes”, and continues to discuss why they think they would be good. Both are well qualified for the job, but the second candidate has better ‘communication skills’, i.e. is simply better able to communicate when asked for information. Both may have honours degrees; but the better developed ‘ordinary’ skill of communication gives the edge to the second candidate.
Chances are, the first candidate thought that having the right qualification was all that was needed to get the job. Big mistake! It’s safe to assume that for every job you apply for, there will also be several others who will have the same or better qualifications. So it is not necessarily the qualifications that win the job contract! More often, it is the ‘ordinary’ skills, and the evidence that you have developed them that counts.
Where do I start?
You can 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.