A day in the life of a young engineer…

Alessandro Sarich is a 26 year old graduate in electromechanical civil engineering. He recently joined Electrabel, part of the GDF Suez group, a world leader in energy and environmental services. We asked Alessandro several questions related to his choice of career.

StepStone: What does your job consist of?

Alessandro: “I am part of a one year nuclear trainee program, a training scheme combining theoretical learning with field experience. For a young engineer it is an opportunity to become a generalist in the nuclear sector while building a network of contacts within the company. Currently I am involved in a post-Fukushima project which has been recommended by the World Association of Nuclear Operators, primarily working on the time we have available to react before the different pools of the site enter in ebullition in case of an accident. This ebullition, which we constantly prevent by cooling down the desactivation pools of the sites, could have severe consequences to the facility if it gets out of control. Besides that, I spend approximately a week each month on various training courses in Belgium or France. “

StepStone: We imagine you’ve been approached by many companies. What made you choose your current employer over another?

Alessandro: “When you start to look for a job in your last year of study you begin to make your mind up about the reputation of different companies. You quickly understand which ones are the best companies to work for. At the same time many technical consulting companies approach young engineers because they realise a lot of them don’t really know which sector they want to work in.

My case was different. I was convinced I wanted to work in the energy production sector. I was already aware of the trainee program on offer a long time before my graduation and knew that my current employer respected all the factors important to me. I was really glad to hear I was chosen.”

StepStone: Do you find a lot of open positions that correspond to your profile?

Alessandro: “I do. In spite of the economic crisis I think the demand for engineers is still there. It is totally possible to find the job corresponding to your exact field of studies and what you are looking for.”

StepStone: When looking for a company to work for, what factors do you consider important?

Alessandro: “I would say that when choosing a company I pay attention to the job in itself first. It has to be challenging and interesting. I believe that asking an engineer, or anyone for that matter, to do repetitive or boring tasks will quickly make them feel frustrated. An employer really needs to challenge a person’s mind and give make them responsible.

After that, the possibility of development and progression within the company is also pretty important to me. Some may want to become technical experts, but many may instead want to evolve in a more managerial role. Additionally, does the engineer want to work abroad? If so, I think a multinational may be a good place for those wanting to work abroad at some point.

If I had to choose another factor which would have an influence I would say the additional terms of employment. It’s not just about the monthly salary, but also about all the other benefits: company car, fuel card, the amount of leave days, the bonuses, the company phone etc.
Finally, the last important factor for me is the training possibilities. Many young engineers like me may need management, language or even personal development courses. Some might also be interested in technical trainings. A young engineer may be ready to accept a lower package if he knows he can evolve quickly.”

StepStone: Which advice would you give to companies that recruit engineers?

Alessandro: “They should try to communicate as clearly as possible the responsibilities of the position and do so as early as possible, preferably before the last round of interviews.”

StepStone: What do you think is the most important information engineers should have on their CV?

Alessandro: “For someone like me who has no or little experience the most important thing to put forward is the title of your master’s degree and specialisation. Languages, extra curriculum activities and your possible traineeships are also very important as they give an idea of who you are. I also I make sure my CV fits on one page. This is what I was recommended and what I would suggest to an engineer starting his career.”

StepStone: What makes your job interesting?

Alessandro: “This traineeship is a perfect transition between my studies and full-time job. I can continue to improve my knowledge with the different training programs offered, whilst working at the same time on two different projects within different departments of the company.”

StepStone: Where do you see yourself in 2 or 3 years’ time?

Alessandro: “I plan to start a master’s course in management next year which I hope will aid me in progressing within the company quicker. Even though I would like to get into management, I also want to show my goodwill to my company by fulfilling my tasks in the technical projects I’m a part of now.”

StepStone: What would make you leave your job?

Alessandro: “Definitely a lack of challenges and a repetitive routine in my tasks.”

StepStone: Would you be willing to accept a job to work abroad?

Alessandro: “Yes, of course. For several reasons I think this may be really interesting in the early part of my career. It proves your motivation to your company and gives the opportunity to gain real human experience. In addition I think it’d look good on my CV.”

StepStone: Would you accept a high-risk, high-return assignment if it would fulfil your career objectives?

Alessandro: “Yes I would. When you are young you do not have many ties or responsibilities. I think it is the best moment to have a job with high-risk or even a big workload. If needed, I would even consider the opportunity to work for a few months on an offshore platform!”

Like Alessandro, do you also want to work in the engineering sector?

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