George Karous - Global Graduate Associate at AstraZeneca (Tech Leadership Graduate scheme)
I studied at Durham University from 2016 to 2020. During my time I completed a BEng in General engineering, then a MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering. Whist studying at Durham I was able to gain skills in a large number of areas, not just in classical Engineering disciplines but also in core skills. For example, I developed my project management skills while managing a team in my masters design module, is which my team was tasked with designing an off-grid power system for a remote island. I gained industry experience when completing the Industrial Problem Solving module in my BEng degree, during which I completed an analysis project for Michell Bearings. These experiences not only improved my engineering capabilities, but also improved my employability.
In my opinion, a breadth of skills and knowledge is very attractive to employers. I’ve found that employers have been very interested in the range of experiences I have had through study at Durham, both academic and practical. I completed internships in commodity trading at Glencore, engineering research at Durham University and finance at Siemens Healthineers. I have also worked in a Medtech startup and most recently I have started on the Tech Leadership Graduate Scheme at AstraZeneca. Studying at Durham not only gave me the necessary skills for this work and allowed me to hone my interests, it also gave me the opportunity to pursue different career paths. You do not always know what path you want to go down when you graduate, but in my experience, studying Engineering at Durham gives you the freedom to explore different routes, because Durham Engineering graduates are in demand in many different fields. This has been crucial in all career decisions I have made after completing my degree.
Ryan Khan – Data Engineer at Kubrick Group
I graduated from Durham University in 2020 with a MEng in General Engineering, specialising in Electronic Engineering in my final two years of study. One aspect of Durham’s Engineering course that really stood out to me when applying, and that I am very grateful for today, is the generalised nature of the course itself. When looking at university courses, I mostly targeted Civil Engineering courses as I had completed work experience in this field, yet fast forward two years and I have specialised in Electronic Engineering, the polar opposite discipline to what I was initially applying for. This ability to get to grips with each of the separate disciplines across your first two years of study at Durham, and then make a better, more informed decision later on in your university career, is what distinguishes Durham from the majority of universities offering single-discipline engineering courses. I would not be doing the job I am today, and enjoying it so much, without this opportunity.
The Engineering course offered at Durham also helped to develop some fundamental skills that are particularly valuable in the workplace – namely presentation and groupwork skills. The MEng General Engineering course offers design modules in the 2nd and 3rd year, and these act as a great opportunity to not only apply what you have been learning in lectures, but also learn how to manage projects, engage with stakeholders and build relationships within a team. Additionally, end-of-year group presentations are a really satisfying culmination of all the hard work that the team have put in over the year. It’s this development of core business skills that makes engineering students a very attractive prospect to employers when compared to other STEM students.
Regarding my time spent outside of academic studies, I enjoyed getting involved with the Durham University Electrical Motorsport team, who have built and raced solar cars across the world for the past 20+ years. The society itself provides a unique opportunity to test yourself with real-world mechanical and electrical engineering problems, and the team is always welcoming of new members. I spent my time running the outreach branch of the DUEM business team, predominantly organising and running events at local primary and secondary schools. This really helped to develop my leadership skills, and often acted as an interesting talking point in job interviews, as it was something that was a bit different from the norm.
In addition, I completed the Engineering into Schools module in my fourth and final year, and I would highly recommend the module to anyone interested. My time spent in a local secondary school was not only very rewarding, but also a welcome change in pace from the relentless nature of any final university year. Juggling multiple different responsibilities improved my time management skills, and also diversified my skillset, something that I believe is very important in order to stand out from your peers when applying for jobs.