Engineer transitioning to ID

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    I’m a Char­tered Engi­neer (with the IMechE) and have ~7yrs of cor­po­rate expe­ri­ence (i.e. project man­age­ment, prob­lem solv­ing, com­mer­cial acu­men etc.) — how­ever I have inched ever closer over the past few years to a sig­nif­i­cant change in my career and move to ID.

    I have a very strong inter­est in inter­na­tional affairs (not so com­mon within the Mech Engi­neer­ing com­mu­nity!) and would love to trans­late my cur­rent skills base into a new career in ID.

    How­ever, I ‘m strug­gling to see a clear route in — most Engi­neer­ing roles in ID are Civil, Envi­ron­men­tal or tech­ni­cal Mechan­i­cal, whereas I have a gen­er­al­ist (cor­po­rate) background.

    Are these cor­po­rate skills in demand at all in ID, and if so, what con­text and field?

    My guess is I will really need to focus on exten­sive net­work­ing (any rec­om­men­da­tions on how best to approach this?), per­haps con­cen­trate on com­plet­ing an MA in ID, and vol­un­teer with NGO’s at a local level as a minimum.

    I realise that vol­un­tary expe­ri­ence in work­ing in a devel­op­ing coun­try is invalu­able, how­ever this is some­thing I don’t have either. It would also be a chal­lenge for me to address as I have a full-time work­ing com­mit­ment with my cur­rent employee that I am finan­cially depen­dent on.

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

    P.S I’m British and live in the UK

    Ben C

    Project man­age­ment, prob­lem solv­ing and com­mer­cial acu­men is all valu­able expe­ri­ence for a lot of jobs in ID, so I think you’re in a good position.

    If you are want to stick with an engi­neer­ing focus (which would be the most obvi­ous choice), maybe you can nar­row down the jobs you would be inter­ested in doing? Have you had a look though inter­na­tional devel­op­ment job boards for engi­neer­ing jobs? If so you should be able to see what min­i­mum qual­i­fi­ca­tions or expe­ri­ence are required. Once you know that, you can realign your CV and try and gain work expe­ri­ence (either in your cur­rent job or vol­un­teer­ing) to fill the gaps.

    You may also be able to iden­tify the organ­i­sa­tions you’d like to work for, and if you can do that, try and get an infor­ma­tional inter­view. That’s a great way to start build­ing up a net­work, as you can get names from each per­son you inter­view with. It’s also low stress, since you’re not ask­ing them for any­thing but a bit of their time, and you can see/learn more about the kind of work you are get­ting your­self into!

    Quite gen­eral infor­ma­tion, but hope­fully this gives you more confidence/impetus. Good luck with mak­ing the transition!

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