I recently attended an event at a nearby primary school. The local chamber of commerce had been teaching the children about the ‘world of work’ and this was the final part of the project. About ten volunteers from local companies sat dotted around the school hall and the children moved from one table to the next spending about ten minutes with each person. After a few words of introduction each team launched into their pre-prepared lists of questions.
The questions were refreshingly candid and included, “How much do you get paid?” to which I answered, “An average engineering graduate apparently gets paid about £25,000 a year, but I get quite a bit more than that because I’ve been doing it for a while.” Also, “Do you get on with all your colleagues?” this time my response was, “I make it my business to get on with everyone at work.”
There were some fun questions like, “What did you want to be when you were little?” to which I answered, “An astronaut when I was very little, but since the age of about 13, I wanted to be an engineer.” Also, “Who inspired you to do your job?” my answer to that one featured a character from ‘International Rescue’ who I have mentioned in a previous article that I wrote for The Engineer, but it appears that about half of ten year olds are now unaware of Brains from Thunderbirds! They asked about flexibility of holidays (a bit, but not completely flexible, for me), week-end work and paid overtime (sometimes and yes). They asked what qualifications I need for my job (an engineering degree) and how many hours a week I work (40 hours)
The questions that made me think the most though, were the following, “Do you enjoy job, and if so, why?” my reply was, “I do enjoy my job, I get to play with a product that I love everyday and I get to solve interesting problems in creative ways.” Also, “Do you get paid a fair wage for your job?” for this one I answered that although my employer pays about the right amount (or maybe a bit more) when compared with similar jobs, I think that engineers should get paid a more generally because of the importance of the job we do.
Finally, the question that made me think the most was, “Is your job your dream job?” to which I answered, “Well I’d like to get paid a little bit more (wouldn’t everyone?), but on the whole, I think it is my dream job.” Strangely it probably took a question like that to make me realise how much I really do enjoy my job. For all the moaning about lack of status and the apparent inequality with the wages of some other professions, I don’t think there is any other job that I would want to do, and as I looked around at the other grown-ups in the room, I wondered how many of them had answered that their job was their ‘dream job’.