How to look for the first job in Civil Engineering?

We continue with the “Study Civil Engineering” campaign of the College of Public Works Technical Engineers , addressing one of the issues that most concerns undergraduate students: the search for their first job.

We spoke with Rafael Pagés, Dean of the Extremadura Zone of the College of Technical Engineers of Public Works, ITOP and Civil Engineer, with extensive experience in the profession. He gives us advice, from his professional career, on how to cover the search for internships and work. 

Ask. The last year is fundamental for the students, who show great concern before the end of the Degree. Based on your extensive experience, what would you advise in those last months of the race? Search for internships or give priority to final exams and the TFG? 

Response. The last year of Engineering studies and, more specifically, the last semester, is really overwhelming, given the number of exams and assignments that have to be carried out. Therefore, in my opinion, you have to be organized and close stages before starting others. Given this situation, I recommend focusing on the exams and the Final Degree Project, before starting any other project. 

Ask. When looking for internships or a first job, what is the first thing to consider? 

Response. The key is to have an open mind. When you study a career with as many possibilities as civil engineering, you don’t really know all the possibilities that you will be able to find. Of course, we all have our preferences and tastes, but for the first job and even more so to do an internship, the important thing is to have the desire to learn and, as I said before, an open mind to discover things.

Ask. In a few months marked by COVID, which has directly influenced the labor market, how should the job search be tackled?

Response. After the first State of Alarm, when the entire productive economy was practically paralyzed in our country, the pace of work of Civil Engineers, both in the Construction sector and in the services sector, has not been seen as affected as in the case of other areas of activity. The important thing to find a job remains the ability to adapt, including mobility, which is often necessary in our profession. The desire to learn, moreover, is essential for obtaining the first job.

Ask. Taking this last point into account, how has job placement changed for these young graduates?

Response. Companies are more suspicious of possible stoppages in their activity, so employment is more precarious, if possible, for young people in their first job. This is not to say that there aren’t opportunities and options beyond what we see in the news. There is always a market niche, a possibility that we previously did not see as viable, in which we can take our first steps. If the years have taught me anything, it is that life surprises you for the better, also in the professional field. 

Ask. In interviews and talks with students, they always ask us “where can they work”. Engineering offers endless outlets. In what areas can they practice?

Response. Civil Engineering is a very versatile profession, so the fields in which you can work are multiple. Of course, in Construction, both in public works, as in building or in the industrial sector. Also in the Services sector, on issues such as water, waste, transport or logistics; work related to the Environment, such as environmental restoration, recycling and the Circular Economy. The Energy and Telecommunications sectors also employ a good number of Civil Engineers.

I would not rule out other sectors, such as finance, in which Engineers are increasingly sought after by banks, agencies, etc. The Leisure and Tourism sector , likewise, is increasingly important throughout the world and in our country in particular. The construction of roads, cycle routes, marinas, inland beaches, active tourism facilities, etc., require the intervention of our professionals. 

Ask. In a changing environment like the one we are in and considering the employability of young Civil Engineers, what advice would you give them, now with the perspective that years of career give you? 

Response. In working life, you travel paths that you often do not expect. For this reason and as we have mentioned before, the important thing is to have an open mind and a desire to learn. Throughout your working life, opportunities appear, the important thing is to be prepared to take advantage of them. It is good to consider a change, but also to go through it with a panoramic view, seeing all the possibilities that arise on both sides. 

Ask. Taking into account your career, Master yes or Master no?

Response. In my opinion, all training is always good but, in the case of Engineering, continuous learning is essential, because techniques, materials and procedures are constantly changing and evolving. However, based on my experience, the ideal is to do the Master that each student needs and you only know that when you have been developing the profession for a few years.

In other words, it makes no sense to do a Master’s Degree in Hydrology to end up working on the Railways. It is more useful to begin to develop the professional career and then study the Master ‘s degree that will really provide each one with the knowledge to develop it.

Something similar is the subject of the Master that they call enabler, is it bad to do it? Of course not, but it does NOT provide in-depth knowledge of any specific technological area. If the student really wants to specialize in something, he will also have to do a specialization Master . In summary, doing the qualifying Master’s degree, therefore, means delaying access to the labor market for two more years.

College of Public Works Technical Engineers

In April, CITOP presented the “Study Civil Engineering” campaign, focused on disseminating the advantages of taking the Degree. In addition, during this month, the doubts presented by students will be resolved, regarding the main areas of how to face studies, in a first stage, and in the search for the first job, in the second phase.

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