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Engineers Week - John McCarthy discusses why he became an engineer


Engineers Week is a week-long festival of nationwide events celebrating the world of Engineering in Ireland.  This celebration takes place between March 2nd and 8th 2019, and this year’s theme is ‘Engineering our Future’.  Fastnet – The Talent Group® is actively participating in Engineers Week, with a variety of different activities taking place. As part of our engagement, we caught up with John McCarthy, a newly qualified engineer, who reveals why he became an engineer, what journey he took, and why he believes engineering is a great career. 

Did you always want to be an engineer? 

My interest in engineering started when I was in 4th year, in secondary school.I had a love of problem solving, machines and engines which came from a farming background.In secondary school I got interested in motorbikes and began rebuilding my own bikes and doing the maintenance.Up to then maths and wood work were the subjects I really enjoyed.

I also had a friend who had a similar interest in bikes and was a mechanical engineer. I looked up to him at a young age and I thought his job sounded interesting. I was very impressed with his experience and qualifications as I learned he had a secure career with a bright and long-term future in engineering, along with an attractive salary. Even at a young age, this seemed very attractive to me as all I wanted to do was find a way to make money to buy a bike, get car insurance, go to college and have a secure job.

What journey did you take to become an engineer? 

I decided I wanted to be an engineer in transition year.  I did work placement with Nualight, a company who manufactures LED lighting systems. Here I was able to see the factory floor process and engaged with different types of engineers.  I also worked in S and S Mechanical, a steel fabrication company, who manufactures air ventilation and ducting systems. Here I worked in the workshop creating the air vents.  Based on my work experience, I decided this was the job I wanted.  For my Leaving Certificate I picked subjects such as applied maths, physics and construction.

I was fortunate to obtain a summer job with S and S Mechanical, working in the workshop making the air vents and being onsite installing the systems in large sites such as Cork Prison, Millipore and Vistacon. I worked in this job during all my holidays up to second year in college.

In second year in college I managed to get a student engineering role in DePuy. I got on well in this job and got a proper idea on what it was like to work as part of an engineering team trying to complete projects in a highly regulated industry. I also got placed in DePuy for my student co-op in third year of college.  I got a better understanding of the role and as given more responsibility in a different department.

After four hard years of college classes, exams, work experience, presentations and projects, I achieved a second-class honour in mechanical engineering.

Did you have a person that inspired you to become an engineer? 

I have been very fortunate to have had numerous people who inspired me to become an engineer. A lot of them are working in different types of factories and construction companies. One person showed me a factory when I was in first year of college, which made a big impact on me.

What do you like best about being an engineer?

I get to work as part of a team which is responsible for improving the process in a medical devices company which makes parts that will help a person live a more comfortable life.

What does a typical day involve for you?

My day always varies, which is the fantastic thing about Engineering.  With DePuy, some days I will be involved in validating new or existing machines, other days I am responsible for gathering data and generating reports.  I am always engaged in team meetings, so communication skills are very important. What I love is that every day is different with introducing new projects, meeting new people, facing challenges, so you never have to worry about getting bored. 

If you had to give advice to Engineering students, what would that be?

I would advise them to get their projects started early, so that they have plenty of time to study and avoid stressing at the last minute. I would recommend getting relevant work experience whilst in college if possible.This is very helpful when looking for a job afterwards and it can also show students what they are implementing in college. Finally, it very beneficial to talk to people in different roles and different industries to get an idea of what kind of job the person would like after graduating, as Engineering can be very broad.

John believes Engineering is a great career and would highly recommend it.The roles can be interesting, the salary is good, there are great opportunities to work with cross functional teams, and there is a healthy balance between working at a desk and being out on the factory floor. 

There is no doubt that Engineering is transforming how we live, work and study, and plays an important role in the Life Sciences industry. Fastnet has several Engineering roles with our Life Science clients.  If you are interested in learning more about these opportunities, please contact Sinead Casey today to have a confidential discussion.

About the author:

Laura Curtin is Marketing Manager with Fastnet – The Talent Group®, a member of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, and recently was accredited by the Digital Marketing Institute.  She is a graduate of Cork Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Carlow, University of Limerick and NUI Maynooth.  Laura has over 20 years’ experience in Marketing and Corporate Communications.  She has worked for global organisations including Cadbury, Kraft Foods, Aramark, Glanbia, Musgrave, and Flex developing and managing the Marketing, Corporate Affairs, Internal Communications, and CSR functions in many of them. She is a highly skilled and well-trained communications professional.

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