The professionals varied from Sam, a Systems Engineer who first learnt about Engineers Without Borders UK at university as the President of the Manchester Chapter, to Simen a Mechanical Engineer developing aerospace fuel cells for the moon, now part of Enginoars, a team rowing the Atlantic in the name of Engineers Without Borders UK and Norway. Each of the eight professionals presented to student participants in small virtual rooms, providing an overview of their career and learnings to date.

Students took the opportunity to challenge the professionals, asking questions about the practicalities of embedding global responsibility within their roles. One student asked Frank, Head of Technical, Engineering and Design at Metsa Wood, how the organisation balances the needs of the environment whilst meeting targets. Frank went on to mention his deep respect for forests as he grew up surrounded by nature. This ongoing appreciation helps to ensure policies such as, at least four trees are planted for every one tree that is harvested during regeneration felling and all parts of the tree are used leaving almost no waste, are implemented.

Celeste, a Project Manager for a Local Authority working in the New Homes and Regeneration team admitted when she first started her Year in Industry as part of her University degree, she didn’t know the difference between consulting and contracting and as a result, turned up to her first day onsite underprepared. Although she left site work after a year, she reflected on the invaluable experience that it provided.

When asked about how to stand out to employers, James a Civil Engineer at Long O’Rourke spoke about the benefits of work experience. Speaking from experience, James had taken a summer job whilst at university which significantly aided him in his graduate job hunt. Sam added that a student’s choice of the final project can stand them in good stead as they apply for relevant roles.

In two of the rooms, the Enginoars: Rufus, Simen, Tim and Thor spoke about their upcoming adventure and their careers to date. All four teammates have expertise in different areas of engineering, and when asked about the advantages of multidisciplinary approaches within the team, Tim responded, “There is a naivety about which type of engineering is superior. You need to find common ground and work together to share skills.” Simen added that engineering is so often about cost and by working across disciplines you can find really interesting and innovative solutions- something which will be invaluable as they take on their incredible challenge next year.

Hearing directly from professionals is an invaluable tool for students as they look ahead to graduation and the employment prospects that await them. Chapters are always keen to hear from professionals across the sector. If you would like to inspire the next generation of engineering and speak to a Chapter about your career, why not register your interest today.