From engineering graduate to engineering manager

Elaine Kennedy 28.05.2015

Only three short years after graduating I was an engineering manager of a multinational company. With the college exams coming to an end this week, I was thinking back to when I was doing my finals and preparing for the jobs market.

I graduated with an Honours Degree in Chemical and Process Engineering over a decade  ago, and had a few ideas of the direction I wanted to go in. Like most of my peers I wanted to get into one of the multinational pharma companies and work my way up.

Being from Cork, we Corkonians don’t like to leave Cork. Sure why would you? Tis great!

What I found was that it wasn’t an easy prospect at first and I had to lower my expectations after a few months of hearing nothing back from the big companies. I had to embrace looking for roles anywhere and at lower salary expectations than I initially had planned. All with the goal of building my experience.

I eventually got a role in technical sales and got great experience in project management, dealing with suppliers, vendors and customers. This role stood to me later on in my career as an Engineering manager, being on the opposite side to the sales people.

After the technical sales role I looked to get into industry to develop my career. And got into the dairy sector as a project engineer on a graduate programme. It was great experience and after only a year was an engineering manager. So only three years after graduating I was an engineering manager of a multinational company and based in Cavan. Quite a big difference to Cork.

The advice I would give to anyone entering the jobs market is to not be tied down to the high expectations of the ‘perfect job’, embrace the possibility of working somewhere else, as in a different industry than that which you had envisaged or a different location. Don’t stick rigidly to the career plan you have, and be prepared to take a salary below your expectations.

Having 'engineering manager' or 'project manager' on my CV open a lot more doors when looking for my next role.

Elaine Kennedy's picture
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