Engineering Career Path: Lorcan (35), Lead Engineer

What is your degree in?

Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)

Why did you do the degree you did?

I was interested in becoming a Marine Biologist, but it’s very hard to get a good job in that area.

What did you know about an engineering career path starting off?

I knew a little about engineering, I came from a family of Civil Engineers. My uncle who was a Civil Engineer that worked in Africa, and I thought that was cool. I also had similar characteristics as those guys, good at maths, numerical etc.

Did you seek advice from anyone about a marine biology/engineering career path?

I wanted to get paid, but I didn’t want to try hard to find a job, and then just end up working in Insurance. I went for a guaranteed profession that would pay good money and let me travel around the world.

What percentage of what you learned in university do you use in your day to day?

20%

Tell me about the jobs you’ve done on your engineering career path? And what have they entailed?

2013 – 2018       Lead Engineer (Pipelines), Australia

Managing all technical aspects of a gas pipeline

2010 – 2012       Highway Engineer, Tanzania

Providing construction supervision for a $100m upgrade of a Tanzanian highway

2007 – 2009       Junior Civil Engineer / Design Engineer, Dublin

Developing detailed designs for major road, rail, drainage projects.

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What are things you like most about your engineering career path, and three things you don’t like?

Like:

  1. The satisfaction of seeing something built
  2. The challenging aspect of the work
  3. The camaraderie of working in construction teams
  4. Travelling all over the world

Don’t like:

  1. The hours
  2. The stress
Which would you prefer to work for – a big company or small company?

When you come out of university, I’d advise working for a big company – there is more room for advancement, better training, you are exposed to higher standards, etc. Then when you have some experience, go work in a smaller company – you can wear a lot of different hats and it will keep it interesting. You will get a richer experience in a big company, but much broader experience in a small company.

Has following an engineering career path meant long hours?

Some jobs are long hours, this job is 50-60hours a week – I’d like to do less.

Has your engineering career path been much fun?

I’ve had the time of my life. I’ve spent 2yrs in Tanzania, and saw lots of Africa during that time. The last 5 years I’ve spent in Australia, during which time I’ve seen lots of Asia.

engineering career path 3

If you could start over, what would you do differently career-wise?

I would have travelled more with my job, even though I have travelled quite a bit already. The pros of travelling with your work are you get to experience different cultures, and varied ways of working. The cons would be not settling down, missing out on birthdays, weddings etc.

Which is the better engineering career path in your opinion –  the Civil Engineer who has worked in one city for 10yrs, or someone who has worked all over the world?

I would have broader engineering experience than the person who has stayed in Dublin for 10yrs. However he would know that local industry/market inside out (the people, and the local specs/standards), but I feel I could pick up that stuff quickly.

Personally I like the variety, I get bored. I’ve done design for 2yrs, roads for 2yrs, oil & gas for 2yrs. At the moment, I’m doing smaller projects like sewerage, after this I might go and do rail for two years, then marine for two years, I like to keep my roles interesting.

What career advice would you give a young person (18-30) now?

Never get stressed about anything, because it doesn’t do you any good. It’s a pointless short term waste of energy. If you are working weekends then you are not effectively time managing, you are burning yourself out and not doing anyone any favours. If you over work yourself, you are going to underperform. Nobody will thank you for putting in long hours

What advice would you have for a young person who wanted to pursue an engineering career path?

There are a lot of people who can study engineering, but a lot of Engineers can’t communicate – communication is key. The engineers that really do well are the ones that can talk and get across what is required.

What gets you further? – knowing people or being good at your job?

Being good at your job, in engineering you’ll get found out very quickly, it’s can be ruthless. In a job I worked on, the Project Manager fired somebody for forgetting to bring a boot, it didn’t matter who that guy knew!

How do you know which engineering career path is for you?

If you are more academic/not outgoing, stick to design, whereas if you are more outgoing i.e. you can talk, negotiate, and lead, go into construction.

If you have any questions about an engineering career path, or any other career questions, feel free to get in touch using the ‘contact’ form, thanks!

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Paul Murphy

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