Engineering degrees are hard work, so it’s never too early to get a head start on your future
So you’ve already decided that you want to be an engineer? Great! It’s an engaging and rewarding profession, but it’s also a lot of hard work. You might suppose that your learning will begin soon enough and you plan on biding your time to get into the specifics of the various strands of engineering – but it’s never too early to start preparing for your future career, to ensure you gain everything you can from your upcoming degree. Here are a few of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for an engineering course.
Take maths and science classes
Do you enjoy maths and science? Do you excel at them? If the answer is ‘no’, then you might want to consider a different career path. If the answer is ‘yes’, then chances are you’ll make a fantastic engineer one day, but only if you make the most of the science and maths options your school has to offer. Take them as A Levels and study hard, taking advantage of classroom discussions, textbooks, and the expertise of your teachers. Take out books from the school library, watch online teaching videos, and generally seek out as much knowledge as you can. Course admission boards love candidates who show initiative and passion.
Clubs are a great way to get some hands-on, practical, and fun experience. It also looks impressive on application forms. The best clubs to prepare you for engineering courses are: engineering clubs (of course), maths clubs, physics clubs, chemistry clubs, coding clubs and robotics clubs. If your school doesn’t have any of these clubs, start one of your own. That will show real ingenuity.
Get some experience
Getting some real world experience of engineering is invaluable for giving you a taste of what you can expect from a degree course. Email different companies to ask if they’d be willing to let you shadow an employee, or grant you an internship. See if there are any volunteer positions at local organisations, and ask teachers, family and friends for help.
Given that engineering is a broad term that covers a number of quite diverse career paths – civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and chemical engineering to name but a few – it’s worth understanding where your passion lies sooner rather than later.
Competitions and independent projects
Completing independent projects, such as building websites or apps, creating basic machines or conducting research (depending on your interests) requires problem solving skills and creative thinking, invaluable skills for an engineer. Put the skills and knowledge you gain to the test by entering a competition. Research different local and national science, maths and engineering competitions, and enter one which appeals to you. Even if you don’t win anything, simply entering shows self-determination, and a passion for the subject that universities will find hard to ignore.
Don’t neglect English
Engineering itself doesn’t require you to be able to quote long tracts of Shakespeare, but having excellent verbal and written communication skills are hugely important for when you present your work to others, whether they be fellow students at university, or future employers after you graduate. Good English skills will make you a well-rounded, and therefore more desirable engineering candidate.
The very best way to fully immerse yourself in preparing for an engineering degree is to spend a few weeks at summer school. Immerse Education summer school in Cambridge offers a varied engineering programme consisting of both classroom and practical work, taught by some of the best university tutors in the world. This will help you get a real taste of what a degree course is like, as the summer school programme is taught at a university level, giving you a substantial head start.