Choosing a career path: consider consultancy

Studying for your degree but starting to think about what you’d like to do when you graduate? Frazer-Nash Graduate Engineer, Chris Hill, shares his story.

Studying for your degree but starting to think about what you’d like to do when you graduate? Choosing a career path can feel like entering a maze – not only are you not sure which direction to go in, you’re not quite sure if there’s going to be anything you want at the centre when you reach it.

Speaking to graduates who have already navigated the maze, and started their careers can be really useful – their experiences can help you decide upon the right direction for you.

We asked Chris Hill, who graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering graduate from the University of Southampton in June 2019, to share his story below.

“I joined Frazer-Nash Consultancy in September of 2019, straight out of uni. I’d heard about the company at a talk from a member of staff during the second year of my aerospace engineering degree. Lots of people on my course had a specific job role in mind, but I didn’t, so I was drawn to the variety that consultancy offered. I didn’t want to get stuck on one long-term piece of work, I wanted to broaden my expertise by working on lots of different projects.

“I didn’t know quite what to expect when I started. I joined the Trials and Condition Monitoring group, which seemed quite different to what I’d studied at uni, so it was all new and I was initially worried I wouldn't keep up. But the Frazer-Nash team made me really welcome, and my line manager has been great at giving me the right amount of balance between support and autonomy. And getting positive feedback along the way is always reassuring! One of the best things has been that – unlike other, more regimented, graduate schemes, where you might have to spend six months in each placement – I’ve been able to use my skills and knowledge working on a wide variety of proper, real-world projects. You get a huge amount of satisfaction from solving a client’s problem for them, you really feel like you’ve made a difference.

“The team I’m in does a lot of on-site work for clients, and from the first week I joined I was able to get hands-on, going onto a platform and taking measurements which was great fun. Since then, I’ve been mainly working on noise and vibration (N&V) and modal analysis (looking at the natural frequencies of structures) related projects, and it's been a good mix of on-site measuring and office-based analysis. I've experienced all sorts of industrial sites from dockyards and ships to factories and power plants. One thing I really enjoyed was the opportunity to take measurements on a ship during sea trials.

“As well as the technical side, I’ve also taken part in some projects involving market research, which has given me more of an understanding of the commercial side of the business. I’ve found it’s been a good mix of using the knowledge I gained on my engineering course, so I feel I’m contributing, and learning new knowledge and skills as part of my role. Plus, with Frazer-Nash working across a range of sectors, I’ve found that a lot of the things I’ve learnt in one discipline can be applied to other areas. For example, my knowledge of electrical and control systems has quite a bit of crossover with my work on modal analysis.

“I love the variety that consultancy offers. The next step on my career path is to gain my chartership from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), which Frazer-Nash is supporting me towards. Looking back, the advice I would give to anyone considering a career in consultancy is to do your research – have a think about what it might mean to be a consultant, beyond the technical side, and the wider skills the company you’re applying to might be looking for. Then go for it!”

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