University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Jersey Tom
Jersey Tom
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Having worked in the automotive and professional motorsports industries, I would highly recommend starting aimed at a 'vanilla' degree like Mechanical Engineering. If you complete undergrad there, you could consider doing an advanced degree that's motorsport-specific. Some things to think about:
I thought id just add that i am absolutely certain that motorsport is the industry that i want to be involved in, so i am not even considering anything else, its definitely motorsport for me.
That's dangerous. Honestly, you don't know whether you're going to like working in racing or not. Don't even argue it. How could you possibly know for sure? Being a fan and being a professional are very different things. You won't really even have a taste for it until you've worked on it for a while. I've known many people who were into racing and such, even did Formula Student and what not, and ultimately opted to not go for professional motorsport. On the other end of the spectrum I really had no interest in motorsports going into uni, and here I am now.

Good engineers are clever, yeah? Smart? Smart is covering all your bases and being intelligent about your career options. Not to mention how much your life and life outlook can change between say age 18 and 22, and then 22 and 25, etc. Early on at uni I was convinced I wanted to work in aerospace, particularly in mechanical design and manufacturing. Now I do data and performance analysis and software engineering. Completely different.

Beyond that I've seen people who have gone through and gotten advanced motorsport degrees from some of the uni's mentioned in this thread. Some are very sharp. Others are mediocre. It's not a guarantee that it will make you any good. If I were a prospective employer I'd be vastly more interested in seeing proven work experience than a piece of paper that says Master's on it.
Grip is a four letter word. All opinions are my own and not those of current or previous employers.

peterdavidgrant
peterdavidgrant
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Hi TK,

A little about myself, I did Automotive Engineering MEng at Brookes, started on Motorsport, but switched to automotive, as there was more interesting modules there.

From scratch, I'd rather have done a vanilla degree, e.g. mechanical engineering. But that said, Brookes had at the time (started 2005, graduated 2010) massive links to the industry, and frankly I think that got me in more than anything else. I spent my year in industry at Williams, worked the summer between years 4 and 5, and did my masters paper there. After graduating I spent three years in the design office, mostly doing KERS while they still did it, then some simulation and design of various other parts of the car too.

A good mate there went to Brunei. Bath seem to have great links to Williams as well, with pretty much all the placement students coming from there. I have friends in Design/Aero/Simulation roles in Merc, Red Bull, Ferrari, and Lotus who all went to Brookes.

Pay is pretty good as well, certainly better than all my uni friends working outside of F1, at JLR etc.

Feel free to PM me with any questions or anything else.

Cheers,
Peter

MadMatt
MadMatt
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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TK96 wrote:
MadMatt wrote:An issue to keep in mind is the salary. Teams won't care you spent 10, 20, 30 grands on your studies, they will pay you sh*t (in most cases). For me working in motorsport is something to do when you are in your early 20s. Maybe if you find a good team, don't really care about your friends or "home" (wherever that be), and ready to give up on family life (girlfriend, kids), then go for it.

I haven't seen in many other fields such demands for people to have 124 degrees, ready to work 60+ hours a week but being paid 40, go abroad half the time, and be paid the same salary than a cashier at Asda.

Again, this is just my opinion, maybe you will find a good team after your studies, maybe you will keep motivation for years despite an eventual crap salary, maybe maybe. If I were you I would still give it a try! I did, I don't regret it.
I had a conversation about salaries with my parents the other day actually. But at the end of the day you have to do, or at least try to do a job in something that you are interested in. And as an engineer, surely the pay cant be that bad. I dont mind doing the travelling and giving up being at home more often.

Out of curiosity, are you no longer in the motorsport/engineering industry?
It can vary a lot between teams and series, but don't expect to make good money out of it (at least not in the first 3-5 years).

I no longer work in motorsport. I've always been a motorsport fan since I was young, and working in motorsport was my dream. Obviously coming from Switzerland where racing on circuits is banned, it was very difficult to even do anything motorsport-related. It took a great lot of passion and effort to get involved in things.

I moved away from home for my undergraduate studies, then moved abroad for the masters degree, and worked abroad. People from the UK working in the UK never realize how difficult it is to leave everything behind to work in a team. Eventho passion can overcome many thing, it has its limits.

For me it was the salary. At 30 there was no way I wanted to do this job for longer than I did, I just wanted to go back home, make good money and "do" motorsport in my free time (which I also didn't have much when I was working in motorsport). I don't regret anything but I guess I was either too old to work at the place I was, or maybe I wasn't working at the right place. I chose to work there, it was my objective since I was young, but in the end it wasn't exactly what I was looking for and I didn't want to pursue in that path unfortunately.

So as Tom said, sometimes even people with the strongest motivation just lose interest or realize its not what they were looking for. As I said, I still think you should give it a try, otherwise you will regret it forever :wink:

TK96
TK96
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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MadMatt wrote:
TK96 wrote:
MadMatt wrote:An issue to keep in mind is the salary. Teams won't care you spent 10, 20, 30 grands on your studies, they will pay you sh*t (in most cases). For me working in motorsport is something to do when you are in your early 20s. Maybe if you find a good team, don't really care about your friends or "home" (wherever that be), and ready to give up on family life (girlfriend, kids), then go for it.

I haven't seen in many other fields such demands for people to have 124 degrees, ready to work 60+ hours a week but being paid 40, go abroad half the time, and be paid the same salary than a cashier at Asda.

Again, this is just my opinion, maybe you will find a good team after your studies, maybe you will keep motivation for years despite an eventual crap salary, maybe maybe. If I were you I would still give it a try! I did, I don't regret it.
I had a conversation about salaries with my parents the other day actually. But at the end of the day you have to do, or at least try to do a job in something that you are interested in. And as an engineer, surely the pay cant be that bad. I dont mind doing the travelling and giving up being at home more often.

Out of curiosity, are you no longer in the motorsport/engineering industry?
It can vary a lot between teams and series, but don't expect to make good money out of it (at least not in the first 3-5 years).

I no longer work in motorsport. I've always been a motorsport fan since I was young, and working in motorsport was my dream. Obviously coming from Switzerland where racing on circuits is banned, it was very difficult to even do anything motorsport-related. It took a great lot of passion and effort to get involved in things.

I moved away from home for my undergraduate studies, then moved abroad for the masters degree, and worked abroad. People from the UK working in the UK never realize how difficult it is to leave everything behind to work in a team. Eventho passion can overcome many thing, it has its limits.

For me it was the salary. At 30 there was no way I wanted to do this job for longer than I did, I just wanted to go back home, make good money and "do" motorsport in my free time (which I also didn't have much when I was working in motorsport). I don't regret anything but I guess I was either too old to work at the place I was, or maybe I wasn't working at the right place. I chose to work there, it was my objective since I was young, but in the end it wasn't exactly what I was looking for and I didn't want to pursue in that path unfortunately.

So as Tom said, sometimes even people with the strongest motivation just lose interest or realize its not what they were looking for. As I said, I still think you should give it a try, otherwise you will regret it forever :wink:
Thanks for sharing your story :) My dream is also to work in motorsport like you. And it is also to design and build my own car over a number of years and drive it. Maybe the bit having my own complete one off homebuilt race car is a bit surreal/unrealistic and more than likely will never happen (unless i become the next Adrian Newey!), but ive always had the desire to be involved in motorsports.

At least you can say that you chased your ambition, even if you did change your mind eventually and move back to Switzerland. So are you still involved in the automotive industry if youre no longer part of a team? What was your role when you were working away with the team?

TK96
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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peterdavidgrant wrote:Hi TK,

A little about myself, I did Automotive Engineering MEng at Brookes, started on Motorsport, but switched to automotive, as there was more interesting modules there.

From scratch, I'd rather have done a vanilla degree, e.g. mechanical engineering. But that said, Brookes had at the time (started 2005, graduated 2010) massive links to the industry, and frankly I think that got me in more than anything else. I spent my year in industry at Williams, worked the summer between years 4 and 5, and did my masters paper there. After graduating I spent three years in the design office, mostly doing KERS while they still did it, then some simulation and design of various other parts of the car too.

A good mate there went to Brunei. Bath seem to have great links to Williams as well, with pretty much all the placement students coming from there. I have friends in Design/Aero/Simulation roles in Merc, Red Bull, Ferrari, and Lotus who all went to Brookes.

Pay is pretty good as well, certainly better than all my uni friends working outside of F1, at JLR etc.

Feel free to PM me with any questions or anything else.

Cheers,
Peter
Thanks for the reply Peter,

The strong industry link is why i am pretty certain that Oxford Brookes will be my firm university choice. I am looking forward to the open day in early October to see what the place is like and also to ask about the mechanical and motorsports courses. I havent actually looked into Automotive Engineering properly yet. I must research it a bit.

Ill be honest, i completely understand why Mechanical is a more safer bet than Motorsport, as obviously you arent restricting yourself, but pretty much the only reason why i would prefer to do a motorsports degree is because i will be studying a course that i will find more enjoyable as it is directly linked with what i am interested in, and will be working with the cars. And obviously Formula Student looks like an amazing thing to be a part of.

TK96
TK96
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Jersey Tom wrote:Having worked in the automotive and professional motorsports industries, I would highly recommend starting aimed at a 'vanilla' degree like Mechanical Engineering. If you complete undergrad there, you could consider doing an advanced degree that's motorsport-specific. Some things to think about:
I thought id just add that i am absolutely certain that motorsport is the industry that i want to be involved in, so i am not even considering anything else, its definitely motorsport for me.
That's dangerous. Honestly, you don't know whether you're going to like working in racing or not. Don't even argue it. How could you possibly know for sure? Being a fan and being a professional are very different things. You won't really even have a taste for it until you've worked on it for a while. I've known many people who were into racing and such, even did Formula Student and what not, and ultimately opted to not go for professional motorsport. On the other end of the spectrum I really had no interest in motorsports going into uni, and here I am now.

Good engineers are clever, yeah? Smart? Smart is covering all your bases and being intelligent about your career options. Not to mention how much your life and life outlook can change between say age 18 and 22, and then 22 and 25, etc. Early on at uni I was convinced I wanted to work in aerospace, particularly in mechanical design and manufacturing. Now I do data and performance analysis and software engineering. Completely different.

Beyond that I've seen people who have gone through and gotten advanced motorsport degrees from some of the uni's mentioned in this thread. Some are very sharp. Others are mediocre. It's not a guarantee that it will make you any good. If I were a prospective employer I'd be vastly more interested in seeing proven work experience than a piece of paper that says Master's on it.
Thanks for your reply

Yep, i know what you mean, and i cannot argue it. As i said on another post, the reason why i want to go for motorsports is because it seems like a much more enjoyable learning experience, particularily with the Formula Student thing, and i will most likely be alot more motivated doing that course because its linked directly with what i like.

I have had that change in interest so i know what you mean there. When i was 15-16 i was massively into aircraft and used to read alot on their history and it really fascinated me. I still remember having a huge book about the Vulcan bomber and its story which i read. Then i dont know how but i just lost interest in it, and i got into racing/ race cars etc. (probably because i started getting into F1 in 2012 lol) And if you asked me at the time, i would have said that i was 100% certain that aircraft is what i wanted to work with in the future, same as now except with motorsports.

TK96
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Greg Locock wrote:"The out of date bit will be same for everyone in every degree regardless though wouldnt it?"

No, the fundamentals of engineering don't change quickly, whereas the specific software and developments you see on the track (or in the lecture theatre more to the point) do go out of date. I would make exactly the same criticism of engineering courses that spend a great deal of time teaching specific CAE or CAD packages actually - in addition the chances of them selecting the correct package for you is near zero. I don't think that's a killer point, as it is a general issue, but it does mean that hitting the ground running is unlikely.

I don't get too fraught about CAD being taught at uni although it strikes me as a cheap and lazy way for the uni to clock up tuition hours, but I'd agree an engineer that can't drive a modern CAD package is working with one hand tied behind his back- but it isn't a big deal to learn an additional one.
I see, that makes sense. Well for the courses that i have had a look at it, the CAD work is done in the final year or the 2nd to last year, so perhaps it isnt that bad.

Greg Locock
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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"And it is also to design and build my own car over a number of years and drive it. Maybe the bit having my own complete one off homebuilt race car is a bit surreal/unrealistic and more than likely will never happen "

I've known at least three people to do exactly that, two from the ground up. One of them even looks great.The latter did involved a two year break from work to get the build finished, from memory. The other two were done in spare time. Now admittedly these are hill climb or sports car type races, not F1, but with a well aimed copy of Milliken I could probably concuss a couple of ex open wheeler car builders as well, in the big office upstairs.

TK96
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Just thought id post an update here about what ive chosen to do.

The universities i have applied for:

Bath - Mechanical Engineering with Automotive
Oxford Brookes - Motorsport Engineering
Coventry - Motorsport Engineering
Brunel - Motorsport Engineering
Hertfordshire - Automotive Engineering with Motorsport

I have received offers from Oxford Brookes Hertfordshire and Coventry, and am still waiting for Brunel and Bath to process my application.

Ive only managed to attend open days at Oxford Brookes and Coventry. Coventry as a university is very nice, and all the buildings everywhere are all modern, and its just a very pleasant place to be. The engineering department is stunning, with the wind tunnel and CNC machines and even a harrier and flight simulator. I didnt get the opportunity to talk to any students about the course at the open day, but i will get the chance to when i go to the applicant day in February.

I was completely sold by Oxford Brookes though, the campus itself couldnt really match Coventry's, but having had a good talk with multiple students and listened to a few people who are involved in Formula Student and the course, i was very impressed. The workshop itself is also amazing, certainly better than Coventry when it comes to Motorsport/ Automotive facilities (Coventry's facilities seem alot more focused on aeronautical rather than Automotive, which probably explains why they only do BEng there and not MEng for Motorsport).

The Formula Student project at OB definitely impressed more than at Coventry. You could almost tell it was alot more "important" to OB just by looking at the car. I made sure i asked loads of questions to the students about the Formula Student and the car itself, and why they did certain things with the car etc, it was very interesting talking about the car.


The uni i will be aiming for is Oxford Brookes because i was very impressed as ive said above, and also because it seems to be the uni which is most likely to land me in a decent job because of their links to the industry (which i also discussed with some people while i was at OB). Bath would also be a very good option obviously, but im not even considering going there because i dont think ill get the offer to be honest. BBB at AS, predicted AAA for A2 (lol) and A*AA needed to get in. I literally chose it as an option because i couldnt think of anything else to choose. Even if i get an offer its almost certain i wont able to get A*AA.

I have an applicant day for Hertfordshire which is next weekend, and i am looking forward to seeing what its like. I have been to Hertfordshire but it was just for a lecture which was delivered by Craig Scarborough, which was excellent. Unfortunately didnt get to see anything to do with engineering in the uni.

In terms of how A2 is going, all is well and if i keep it up i should be on my way to the ABB i need.

MadMatt
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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"Links with industry" is a very hypothetical thing, I've learned the hard way. Never trust those who say you will get a job if you go to A or B. The only thing that will matter is your motivation, your job hunting, and luck! Have fun in OB if you get there, its a nice place, although some people found living in Wheatley difficult :wink:

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Vyssion
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Pretty much everything that has been said in previous posts has been spot on during my route into F1. Being born in Perth Australia isn't exactly helpful when F1 is on the other side of the world!! I figured I would add my 2 cents in here:

I began uni at 17 (at Edith Cowan University) and did a Bachelor of Motorsport Technology (equivalent to a 3yr BSc in the UK) and then followed that up with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering finishing at age 21. During my Motorsports degree, I was placed within the aerodynamics team for the FSAE car and so through both those degrees, my projects and final thesis were based on aerodynamics. Once they were over, I knew that I had to get over to the UK sometime to make things easier, and I knew that I needed to find a way to stand out from the crowd in order to get my dream job in F1. So I googled "Masters of Race" to see what popped up and The University of Southampton offered an "MSc Race Car Aerodynamics". Figured I would apply, and low and behold, I got in --- So I was going to the UK for this, thinking the whole time that I could build connections, get used to life in the UK and that the Uni (as they promoted it to me) would essentially give me a "golden ticket" into F1 as only 8 people internationally were chosen for this degree each year. It was NOT the case...

Basically, the degree is known by teams, but all that garners you is a "uh huh I've heard of it" during your interviews. Given that I was now 22 with 2 Bachelors and a Masters, I figured that surely I would stand out and that the so called "famous MSc" would carry me into a team. Yeah nah... In all honesty, no one cared that I had spent about £35,000 on education and that I had 3 degrees at 22yrs of age. F1 is full of smart people; people who are plenty smarter than me and those bits of paper are just that: bits of paper. Yes you need them to show that you have at least "some" level of competency at what you did, but University is quite frankly dead easy to "pass"... It is, however, hard to get a good mark.

In the end, I had applied to 109 jobs (across multiple top end racing formulas) before I landed a job within an F1 team --- and that number is just the ones that I heard back from!! Yes, all of these things, along with moving to the other side of the world alone, not caring what salary I got, being relatively young and having 3 degrees all specifically relevant to what I wanted to do, blah blah blah, helped... But it what really helped me, was showing them that I WANT THIS JOB... That I will do ANYTHING to get it... and that I have proven that I am capable of doing the job by these degrees, thesis' and spare time projects which I do because I love it and I have subsequently got high marks.

If I could give you one piece of advice on your journey? It is to actually DO what your dream job entails in your spare time, and create a place for you to show off that work. To give an example, if I ask someone what they want to be and they answer a writer; my next question is "okay, where do you write? Do you keep a blog?" and 99/100 they answer "no..."!!! If you want to be a mechanical engineer in F1, then download CAD models from the Internet, setup a virtual machine, install the free opensource OpenFOAM package on it, and get to it!! Create a website and just upload once a month with a new simulation or something you have been working on; explain how the stress propagates through the object and where stress concentrations are along with potential improvements for it or something. You want to get to an interview and be able to say that you "want this job with every fibre of your being" and that you have simulated parts in your spare time and keep a website explaining them. Give them something to go away and look at.

In summary (in general!!):
1. Masters helps, PhD not so much - unless it is 100% directly related to what you will be doing in the team.
2. Money spent on education, meh...
3. Number of degrees: do you have a Masters? then others are interesting, but still meh...
4. Doing what you love in your spare time and creating a place to showcase it: BIG HELP!! Get involved in FSAE or Formula Student. Volunteer at racing events. Show that you love what you do.
5. If you're asked a question and you don't know, just say so... don't try to BS through it, cause we know...
6. Often, if you're at the interview stage, it's because you have shown in your CV that you are of some interest to us. Most of the time, the interview is used as a way to find out specifics on what you do in your job roles, and to see how you fit within the team - meaning, do you have the charisma of a brick, or are you a happy, cheerful, friendly person? You could be the best person in the world at what you do, but if you are an asshole, then no one will hire you. Simple.
7. Applying to 5 jobs and failing does not constitute you to take the position of "I can't get a job".... How much do you really want this? If F1 isn't working, then go to LMP1 or WRC or IndyCars or Formula E or Nascar or anything else that you can some day twist and manipulate to show an F1 team why your experience as a <insert job here> is relevant to them.
8. Resume: This is your one way of showing people who and what you are. It is not a good method, but it is the only method we have. I am recruiting some members for my team now, and it astonishes me how little consideration people give this....
a) 2 pages MAX!!
b) Cover Letter - next to never read
c) Spelling mistakes - shows you don't have attention to detail
d) Downloaded template from internet - make sure that you remove any unused section headings, footnotes, etc.
e) NO PHOTOS - you're not a small claims lawyer advertising on a bus stop seat........
f) Bullet points - if I have to spend more than 10 seconds trying to find out what you learnt at job XYZ, then I don't bother
g) Tailor your CV: for example, if you are applying to a huge corporation, chances are that some HR person who has no idea about your field is going to go through your CV and tick a box on the application form whether you have experience in the things which the job says are required/desirable. So make sure you include those points!! If you are applying to a smaller team, chances are that someone in the department you are looking to get into will be the one reading your CV so you need to include a little more detail about it.
h) ... Make sure that your CV you sent in has the correct company name on it............. *facepalm*
i) 2 pages may be tricky to fit to -- If you have a lot of previous jobs, then only display the ones relevant to the role, and then lump the rest together in a short bullet point list with your job title. If we are interested, we will ask.
j) If English isn't your first language, then the odd mistake here and there might be overlooked; having said that, this is the one way for us to gauge who you are. If you stick "English - Proficient" on your CV, then make sure your CV actually is... Hell, hire some native English speaker to look over your CV and make it PERFECT.

This is what worked for me anyway... Having said that, luck does play an important part :D :lol: Good luck mate!
"And here you will stay, Gandalf the Grey, and rest from journeys. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

#aerosaruman

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Callum
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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What an interesting comment Vyssion thanks!

(This should be the first post to all "I want to get a job in..." pages)

Out of interest what do you think about my comment regarding the fact that you don't need a motorsports degree and that for certain job roles such as design engineer a Mech Eng degree would suffice. Was I wrong?

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Vyssion
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Callum wrote:What an interesting comment Vyssion thanks!

(This should be the first post to all "I want to get a job in..." pages)

Out of interest what do you think about my comment regarding the fact that you don't need a motorsports degree and that for certain job roles such as design engineer a Mech Eng degree would suffice. Was I wrong?
Welcome mate.

I can tell you that there are people working within the team who have pure maths or physics degrees... As I said, it is more about what you can twist and manipulate what you DO have into showing the interviewers that you can do the job and do it well. Once you have a few years under your belt, the degree becomes a sort of "check to make sure you have one" thing, whereas when you're fresh out of uni, the degree needs to be somewhat relevant, but your final thesis and your own personal projects (and any volunteering or graduate schemes - which need to be relevant too!!) are the more important things.
"And here you will stay, Gandalf the Grey, and rest from journeys. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

#aerosaruman

Greg Locock
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Re: University choices for Motorsport Engineering.

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Nice post - The only thing I'd really disagree with is the cover letter comment. Maybe your team doesn't read them, but they are the ONLY chance you get to directly communicate your fit and enthusiasm for the job as specified.

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Vyssion
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Greg Locock wrote:Nice post - The only thing I'd really disagree with is the cover letter comment. Maybe your team doesn't read them, but they are the ONLY chance you get to directly communicate your fit and enthusiasm for the job as specified.
Yeah, of course other teams/people will see things differently... Often a cover letter is just a check in the box. Usually CVs have a little profile section of 3-4 lines which is enough of a description for me. What I often find that makes the cover letter worthless to read is that people fill it with internet-searched jargon to try and sound super passionate - which is understandable, but when I get 150 letters all with a similar layout and wording, it kinda means that it is all the same. If the candidate is really good in the CV, then I may go and read the cover letter to get a better sense of what they do - but yeah, if your CV isn't what we are looking for, why waste time with the cover letter?

But again, thats just me :mrgreen:

I suppose if you really wanted to write a cover letter that would add to your CV, then use it to showcase in detail 1-2 of your biggest achievements. For example, say you were in a group project at uni and your task was to aerodynamically enhance a hillclimb car and your group increased its overall downforce by 400% with only a 50% increase in drag --- THAT is something that will show you are capable at doing things. Just reiterating and summarizing what is already contained in your CV is boring and pointless. Use the full page of words that you have to go into detail about your achievements and explicitly state what you actually did to achieve it. CV is for bullet points, CL is for detail on 1-2 things in and amongst all that "showcase yourself" stuff.
"And here you will stay, Gandalf the Grey, and rest from journeys. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"

#aerosaruman