As graduation year approaches, engineering students will be looking forward to settling into an engineering career that will pay off for all those years of notoriously difficult learning and study.

If you’re a budding engineer, you’ll be happy to know that there is still a huge demand for engineers in Malaysia, with the National Council for Scientific Research and Development estimating that the country will need almost half a million scientists and engineers by 2020.

As you prepare to apply for engineering jobs, pay attention to these tips to help you get your dream career.

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  1. Make sure you get industrial training

Most degrees will incorporate industrial training or engineering placement as this is a requirement for accreditation under the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC)Malaysia. Don’t panic if yours doesn’t, as you can still find one on your own.

The starting point should be your university’s career centre. From there, you can locate placement officers and other industry contacts whom you could speak to regarding placement or training. In general, these trainings can be as short as a month but can last up to three months.

The most valuable aspect of industrial training is the experience. If you impress at training, you might even get offered a permanent job.

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  1. Join engineering competitions

Competitions are a great way to show off your talent and certified skills while getting exposure in the industry. There are several well-established engineering competitions in Malaysia that have produced some ground-breaking creations.

The largest is the Innovate Malaysia Design Competition, although others such as the Clash of Robots by Malaysia Robotics Engineering Association (if you’re in robotics) and AngelHack (if you’re a computer science engineer) are gaining popularity. Your own engineering campus is likely to hold campus-level competitions as well.

You don’t even have to win to benefit as participation gives you hands-on building or creating experience, while expanding your network when you communicate with industry leaders on competition day.

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  1. Build up a portfolio to complement your first CV

Whichever branch of engineering you’re graduating from (be it mechanical, chemical, civil or electrical), do make sure you start building a brief portfolio of your design or manufacture work as you study.

Even simple projects from your first year or an impressive final-year project could make you stand out from competing candidates when you finally graduate and start applying for jobs.

Don’t overkill with too many details. A simple one-pager or even a visual presentation of your design work is a good way to demonstrate your potential and capabilities as an engineer.

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  1. Consider registering yourself

According to the Malaysian Board of Engineers, there are just over 90,000 graduate engineers registered with them. Consultancy firm Eduspiral estimates that only half of employed engineers in Malaysia are registered.

While registration does not necessarily make you a better engineer, it does demonstrate your willingness to commit yourself to a long-term career in engineering and this can appeal to future employers.

At the end of the day, personal determination and hard work will be the main factors for success in getting employed. But with the current dearth of engineers in Malaysia, engineering graduates are among those with the best starting chance.