You graduated with an engineering degree and got the job of your dreams, a competitive salary, and other bonuses. Are you set for life?
Not necessarily. Whatever engineering path you have chosen, there is a time when your career development will feel like it’s crawling or worse, at a standstill. This happens whether you are a new graduate or senior employer.
There are different reasons your career may feel stagnant, including poor motivation, lack of creativity, limited upward mobility, or even limited opportunities.
So what can you do to strengthen your long-term career?
These are nine tips that can help jumpstart your career in engineering:
Map Out Your Career
Many people remember career planning whenever the boss asks, “where do you see yourself in the future?”
Such random planning leaves your career trajectory to chance. A critical step for any engineer is to set aside time for career planning at least once per quarter.
You are probably wondering what career planning is?
Career planning is understanding where you want to be in your field. Whether you see yourself working as a proprietor or advancing at a job level, it can be challenging to reach such a destination if you don’t know it.
The perfect career planning rule would be to ask yourself “who, what, when, and why” questions about your career. In doing so, you’ll start to figure out what needs to be done and how to get to the desired destination and take advantage of the available opportunities.
Understand the Market
Understanding the market helps you hone your skills towards the demand.
Once you know what potential employers need, you can focus on getting the knowledge, skills, and values that are highly sought after.
Understanding the market also means speaking to other engineers. Consulting them can help you get the nitty-gritty of the market before you dive in.
Networking using social sites like LinkedIn and Instagram positions you as a driven individual, opening unknown doors to potential employers.
However, going for meetups or events specific to engineering will help you interact on a personal level and build trust. Remember, trust goes a long way in everything.
Diversify your networking skills by combining physical meetups with online connections.
Sure, you studied engineering. But thinking like a businessman will make you stand out from the crowd.
Engineering firms will find you valuable if you prove to be resourceful in other ways. There’s no reason you shouldn’t know your way around a balance sheet, for instance.
Engineers who can realistically plan and work with set cost limits are priceless. The employer will be willing to make you part of strategy development and planning if they can trust your expertise in such areas.
One More Certification
Getting one more certification than your work colleague is another way to get elevated past your peers.
The certification you opt for can range from university degrees like masters or licenses from professional organizations like the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Your importance as an engineer boils down to your value. One more certification means an increase in knowledge and competence.
Seek New Challenges
Besides certifications, you can opt for new challenges to stimulate your creativity.
Participating in competitions that showcase creative designs or environmental-friendly engineering solutions may just be what you need to boost your career.
These engineering competitions give you a chance to evaluate your skills. They also take you away from your comfort zone and teach you new ways of doing things.
Sell Your Soft Skills
Most people focus on the technical know-how on their resumes and ignore their soft skills.
Of course, for an engineer, understanding hardware tools like CAD, debuggers, and simulators is necessary, but so is being an emotionally intelligent team player. Ignoring the soft skills shows you are not a well-rounded individual.
Your resume should inform the employer that you are organized, a good communicator, and a leader who can work with a team.
Be the Problem Solver
Problem-solvers are in constant demand in all fields.
This is a skill that many lack when it’s easy to acquire. Signup for extra training and webinars that foster problem-solving skills.
It may be a soft skill too, but problem-solving gets special attention, as it is essential for an engineer’s daily encounters and professional development.
Learn From Mistakes
Like other technical professionals, engineers face challenges, make mistakes, and sometimes fail.
These mistakes should serve as important lessons, especially when working with cutting-edge technologies and systems. Using your mistakes as a learning curve is how you gain experience.
Engineers build until they are good at what they do. Test your training on the ground and learn more from experienced engineers.
Engineering is one of those fields that come with high hopes and dreams. And while it’s good to dream big, you need to back it up with actions like redefining your career to meet the changing demands in this dynamic field.
Hopefully, these tips will help when you go back to the drawing board to map out your career.