/ #Graduation month #After your studies 

Things to do after graduation - Finding the job you like

During your high school days you have probably already thought about which direction and what kind of profession you want to practice. The direction is of course very important to know before you choose your Master. However, what is possible after all your education is sometimes a bit unclear. Hence this article to show a few of the possibilities you have after completing your master. Even if you can’t figure out what to do, there’s always the possibility for a gap year to travel/think things over!

Different kind of jobs

Of course you have many different jobs that you can practice as an Electrical Engineer. You can do more practical work, become a researcher, go to management and much more. Of course it also differs here whether you have chosen a Master and what and how good your soft skills are. Often you can also switch function or project subject during your work. Next to that you always have to keep learning. Technology and innovation is something that continues to develop and if you do not develop along with it, the possibilities for work are also limited.

If you want to go the more practical direction, you don’t necessarily have to follow a Master. There are a lot of job opportunities where you can already get started with your bachelor. For example, it is possible to test and improve designed systems or to work as a general hardware engineer. If after a few years you still feel that you want to specialize, you can usually do so in the company or with the help of the company.

If you want to become a researcher, it is advisable to complete your Master and then even do a PhD. You can then go to work for, for example, a university or a public sector organization. You can also do research for the private sector or start your own consultant agency where you conduct research and share your findings and knowledge with companies.

For the managing side, it is often the work experience and soft skills that is very important. After a number of years of work experience you’ll see opportunities to take a management role. Usually after Senior Engineer you can move on to lead engineer, where you lead a project team but still complete some technical parts yourself as well. However, you can also move on to a project manager, where you are less technically involved, but more managerial and communicate with clients and stakeholders.

Different kind of responsibilities

In general, the longer you work somewhere, the more confidence you can gain that you are doing your job well. If people have confidence in you, the responsibility you can be given for certain projects grows. Some positions require a lot of responsibility and with enough experience even more doors open for different jobs. For example, a general path with associated functions can be found in Figure 1. Here you can also see that it can take years before you really have the leading position that you may have in mind. One good thing that comes with having more responsibility is usually a better salary, and more influence within the company.

Figure 1: Career development example [1].

Figure 1: Career development example [1].

Starters or big company

The size of the company you will be working for is also something to consider. The advantage at a large company is that you have many colleagues to learn from and can easily change interests or positions in the company. You get work experience without necessarily having a lot of responsibility and this can certainly be very useful for starters. The salary is good and you are sure of a higher annual income. Large companies also often offer traineeships where you can further develop yourself. The downside to a large company may well be the bureaucracy.

The biggest contrast to this is a start-up or small business. You generally earn less at a start-up. This is because the company makes little or no profit, especially in the beginning and simply cannot afford it. On the other hand, if the company is doing well and you receive shares as a reward, you can benefit greatly from it later. With a smaller company you can usually come into contact with people within the company relatively faster and even have control over the course of the company. The informal atmosphere can be very nice and the work is usually a bit more flexible. Less rules and a little more of everything. For example, you can easily take on some HR or other tasks at a start-up, because usually there is no money for a separate department for this. A downside is that the risk of losing your job may be greater in a smaller business, because it is not yet certain if and when the company is going to be successful.

How to investigate possibilities

There are so many sectors and roles that even with your function in mind it may be chaos. In Figure 2 you can see a table of the different sectors and the global career progression according to the university of Melbourne which may help you orient [2]. In any case, you can find a large number of companies and faculties through Scintilla. Especially the company profiles page is very useful for this to see what kind of companies there are.

Figure 2: Top table: Sectors and example of employers. Bottom table: Career progression titles [2].

Figure 2: Top table: Sectors and example of employers. Bottom table: Career progression titles [2].

In addition, a part-time job in addition to your studies can provide a lot of information about whether a particular industry is really something for you. You can then talk to colleagues from other departments and hear stories of how they got to where they are now. You can also see what the different functions and tasks really look like in the workplace.

Attending lunch lectures is also very useful. In addition to free lunch, this type of lecture also provides insight into what a company does in general and what the speaker performs for specific tasks. Usually a technically in-depth old project is discussed that the speaker helped with. This can usually help you figure out if that’s right for you. In addition, you can also enter into a dialogue with the speaker and discuss internship or job opportunities directly.

So lots of possibilities and things to take into account. It definitely does not have to go directly the way you want. Switching function or job is very common and the variety keeps your work interesting and fun. Besides that, colleagues and work atmosphere are also important and cannot be fully known beforehand. If everything goes right, the coming “burger” life can be almost as fun as your student life. And as an Electrical Engineer you are working on the future of mankind, which is very exciting anyway!


[1] https://www.vtc.edu.hk/admission/en/programme/eg524401-higher-diploma-in-electrical-engineering/career-prospects/
[2] https://eng.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/2942715/eng-electrical-careers.pdf


Herjan Barkman

Commissioner of External Affairs of the 91st board of E.T.S.V. Scintilla