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Starting out in ME

Starting Out in Mechanical Engineering – What Students Expect


Companies that understand and respond to the needs of career starters stand a good chance of attracting the best of the bunch.

Every generation is subject to different and distinct political and media influences, and so too, each new wave of young people has different ambitions, views, and interests. Before their career in mechanical engineering even begins, students already know what they expect from employers. Today’s university graduates belong to “Generation Y,” which covers anyone born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. According to the “Attractive Employers 2018” study (offered in German only), the hard facts that matter most to this generation’s engineers are training opportunities, promotion prospects, and how much they’ll earn. When it comes to soft facts regarding employers, the number one priority is a pleasant working environment followed by an adequate variation in work and a positive work-life balance.

Career Starters on digitalization in mechanical engineering – an opportunity, not an obligation

Markus Eckstein and Severin Kobus from RWTH Aachen University back up this assessment. The two mechanical engineering students are chairs of Team Sonnenwagen and, as aspiring mechanical engineers, they have clear demands of their future employers. “I think it’s really important for team members to get on well with each other,” says Markus. In fact, we may well see more and more companies fulfilling this wish in the future, as social skills are becoming increasingly important in light of advancing digitalization in mechanical engineering. Both students are equally realistic and optimistic about the situation, as Severin explains: “As a job applicant, you shouldn’t make 100 percent digitalization one of your requirements.” Markus adds that it isn’t wrong for companies to stick to the tried-and-tested methods of the analog world for the time being. All the same, they should always keep an eye out for areas where they can make improvements by harnessing digitalization.

Finding out whether aspiring engineers and companies are a good match

Those just starting out in mechanical engineering who still aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for can make use of the Moving Motivators concept. This agile method helps users identify what it is that motivates them, and is equally useful for both career starters and businesses. The concept uses ten cards, each labeled with a motivational factor such as curiosity, status or power, with the user putting them in order according to their importance. This is a relatively quick way to work out what exactly drives the user and what’s important for them. This makes the Moving Motivators concept the ideal tool for interviews as well as determining whether the applicant’s expectations fit with the corporate culture.

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