20 September 2021

Dear Self from 5 years ago

SECC members look back and record the one piece of advice they wish their past self had received.

The Student & Early Career Committee members look back and record the one piece of advice they wish they had received five years ago...

Martyn Jones CEng MIMMM - Rolls-Royce 

If I could have given myself some advice 5 years ago, I’d probably only need 6 words….JUST GET ON AND DO IT!

This would have applied to a number of things; my part-time PhD that I’d just started, as spending enough time on it is only going to get more difficult as time go by; my application for Chartership which I left longer than I needed to or intended, having my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) records in order would have removed the biggest barrier to me doing this in a timely manner; and also understanding pensions, or more importantly, how much I should be saving and where I should be saving it. Maybe an unusual one to mention, but getting on the front foot with this early on could have huge benefit later.

Dr Michael Kenyon MPhys - Materials Engineer, Innoval Technologies

If there was one piece of advice I could give my younger self, it is to network and communicate with prospective companies, departments and institutes which align with your interests. Do not be afraid of digitally pursuing companies whether it be by email, phone or virtual chat. Go out your way to form a line of communication, and suggest work experience trips, a day visit or a simple discussion with someone at the right position to give you an idea of what it is like to work in that industry. If you show you’re interested in the subject, most science and technology based companies should be willing to help and guide prospective students and future employees. The worst case scenario is that they’ll ignore you! Even if they do, don’t give up, go through other channels or company representatives. I would give the same advice at an earlier stage of my education such as when I was studying at A-level. If I’d have done more networking, and formed contacts in other industries, I may have had more opportunities to gain experience across other subjects. The only way to know if you’re going to enjoy something, is by researching and trying it out! Networking and forming contacts will significantly improve your chances of getting a job in an industry you enjoy, it worked for me.

Alice Robinson GradIMM - Materials Technologist, Rolls-Royce

People will doubt you and you will doubt yourself, but you shouldn’t. So long as every decision you make is a choice rather than a default option for lack of effort in making that choice, you will always have done the right thing. Choosing to specialise is scary, picking the right internship is scary (definitely keep doing internships) but none of these decisions will harm you even if you think you might have made the wrong one. Just be bold and speak up, people want to help you. If you’re not happy, it’s never too late to change. 

Dr Aimee Goodall MIMMM - Process Technology Specialist, Tata Steel Strip Products UK

Currently you are going into the 3rd year of your PhD and must do the main bulk of your experimental work and more writing than you realise. It will be a long journey, but you will do it. You have made so much progress and gained experience which will show itself in the coming years.  Take time for yourself, allow yourself time to rest. I mean REALLY rest. Don’t feel bad saying no to events that you don’t have the mental energy for. And PLEASE sort your digital files, photos and documents out ASAP! 

From your future self!  

Maitheya Riva ProfGradIMMM - Materials Engineer, RINA Tech UK Ltd

Thinking back on the different experiences and challenges I have faced during the years there is one advice I would give on all those occasions: keep going! When I have chosen to follow my passion for engineering it has not always been an easy path. Between the challenging classes and the strongly male dominated field the curiosity for the subject kept me going and I am glad it did as I could not have chosen a more rewarding career. So… follow your passion and you will not regret it!