Today I’m back with a very exciting Uni Life interview! The purpose behind this interview series is to give prospective and current students an insight into life at university, what it takes to get there and how to survive. I hope that these interviews will give you a chance to learn from current and recently graduated students about the courses you’re interested in.
This week I’m talking with Erika, a third year Electronics Engineering student at the University of Sheffield.
What course are you studying at university?
I’m a third year student studying Electronics Engineering at the University of Sheffield. When I was 14, I clearly remember that I want to be an engineer, I was inspired by my friend’s dad who owned an engineering consultant firm.
My study path is from an oil and gas (OnG) industry to technology industry. I completed a diploma specialised in Process Instrumentation and Control at the German-Malaysian Institute which is related to the OnG companies. From this I realised I’d like to be a programmer or a software engineer after I graduate.
So I thought of electronics and my focus was on the likes of IBM, Apple and Microsoft. Something related to that kind of technology industry because I was inspired (I get inspired easily!) by friends who get to work for Apple in China and IBM in Taiwan. At the same time, an exchange student from Germany named Harald sparked my interest in the renewable energy industry. Hence, I studied the electronics engineering modules in Sheffield University and found that I can get best of both worlds here.
What made you decide to study abroad?
It had always been my dream to study abroad. It should be every child’s dream because we get to see and feel the outside world.
Was the application process difficult?
In Malaysia, the process to study in UK is far easier than applying to study in US. I got free consultancy and regular follow-ups from the agent that arranged my application to UK universities. I found this really helpful and it made the process a lot less complicated.
I chose Sheffield because I know myself too well, I needed to choose a place that has less distractions. I am a sucker for distractions such as live performances or any type of social events. I am really glad that I chose Sheffield because I love the city, it is not too much but just right.
Have your family and friends been supportive of your decision to study in England?
I knew studying abroad would make my parents proud and happy. I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to continue my study in UK. Not every parent can afford to send their child to study abroad. I managed to get a study scheme from the government to support me studying here.
There isn’t anyone in Malaysia who would not support the decision to study abroad. Everyone understands the added values that we can gain abroad are more complex and diverse.
What do you enjoy most about your course?
I get hands-on experience on the motors or circuit boards. I enjoy seeing the input-output process during the coursework. Also, recently I just did my individual research project on solar cells and I get to work with a device that has a material which has the potential to increase the efficiency of a multi-junction solar cell that is in the industry right now. I might discover something new for the industry!
What do you find most challenging about your course?
Maths. One word. Even though I’m half Chinese, I guess that doesn’t count. You know how we stereotype Chinese to be really good in maths, I am definitely not one of them!
Are internships easy to come by in your field?
Yes, especially if you are a woman. Companies nowadays are looking for female engineers because there are not many female electrical and electronics engineers. As Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary, was saying, women are the best driver of growth. Companies need the balance of male/female engineers as that can promote the company’s development.
I did get a phone interview last year for summer internship but I didn’t put too much effort into it. Hence, I didn’t get the job. It was my first experience doing a phone interview and I was really nervous. However, lesson learnt. I regret not taking it seriously but it has given me a good lesson. Opportunity doesn’t come all the time.
Do you have any career plans in mind for when you’ve graduated, will you stay in England?
To be honest, I really really really like Sheffield and I do wish to get a job here once I’ve graduated. I aim to work at least 3 years here in UK after I graduate. I think Sheffield will be my pick if I plan to live in England. Nothing to hate but so much to love.
What do you do in your spare time?
Baking! It’s therapeutic. Just like shopping but cheaper perhaps. But, if I don’t have the ingredients I would definitely go for a run. I love running. I get stressed many times because that is the university life. Therefore, I find that running releases my stress – I tend to breathe properly and we all know the power of breathing properly or just focusing on your breathing can definitely fix that.
What would you’ve liked to have known about university life in England before you started?
How to cope with the weather. I’d never seen snow falling from the sky before moving to England. In other words; living in a really cold place. Also, I was looking forward to discover the English culture. You guys do love eating crisps. And chips with vinegar? Fascinating.
What keeps you motivated?
My parents. Their happiness is the reason why I strive to do well in my studies. Sometimes I put my parent’s picture as my lock screen to remind me of my goal or to boost my inner self whenever I feel demotivated.
What advice would you offer to prospective Electronics Engineering students and also, students thinking of studying abroad?
I would like to encourage British girls to take engineering. There is only one British girl in my class and I think that is quite sad. The opportunity that you will get after graduating is huge! Companies will look for you, trust me. The course may look like the toughest but keep in mind that nothing is easy in this world.
If you think you may want to study engineering, don’t be scared. I’ve been there before and all I can say is I didn’t let my fear stop me from trying things that I want to do. Well, this only applies for decisions in choosing your future career.
As for students who want to study abroad, GO FOR IT. The experience that you will gain is priceless and it will definitely open your eyes to many new things.
Finally, what is your go to meal after a busy day of lectures?
Carrot cake! Well, it’s not actually a meal but I always treat myself to carrot cake if I ever need to reward myself and feel good after a long day. If I have extra energy, I would prepare scrambled eggs, boiled potatoes with mint and yogurt sauce and broccoli. Simple food that I enjoy the most.
I want to say a huge thank you to Erika for taking part in my Uni Life interview. I found her answers very interesting and of course, inspiring. I can’t wait to see what Erika does after she graduates. This girl works very hard and is destined for big things. I’d like to also highlight what she said about the lack of British girls studying engineering. I personally think that here in England education isn’t taken as seriously as it is in other countries. It’s almost taken for granted. At school kids are made fun of for doing well, but in every other country it’s a good thing to do well. Hopefully things will change in the future!
You can find Erika on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.
Leave a comment below and tell us what you’re thinking of studying at university.