Once upon a time, parents would have been very proud of their children chose to become lawyers, doctors, accountants, or engineers.
Today’s generations, however, are not as drawn to these once very coveted, and in some ways lucrative, positions.
Let’s take some time out of our day to explore why engineering is just as exciting today as it once was, and how you can forge a prosperous career in the industry.
What’s the Appeal?
Engineering is essentially problem-solving at the highest level. It requires you to take a certain issue, dissect it to figure out how it works and how best to solve it, and then put it all back together.
If you’re drawn to numbers, puzzles, and brain teasers, and like to put theoretical knowledge to practical tests, engineering could be the perfect career for you.
You can choose to go into civil, mechanical, electrical, or even environmental engineering, and that’s not all – so it’s not like your choices are limited in any way.
Modern technologies have also taken engineering to an entirely new level. Today, it’s more about advanced software and high-tech pieces of equipment than blueprints and an old-fashioned pencil set.
How to Get Into the Industry?
To become an engineer, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. On the other hand, there are some distinct benefits to getting a master’s degree as well, and some jobs will require it, so explore your options before deciding to finalize your education.
Once you have your degree, landing your first job is pretty much the same as it is with any career. Interning and volunteering help, so try to find these prospects while you’re still in school.
After that, it’s all about landing job interviews and making a good impression.
Climbing the Career Ladder
With a job safely secured, there are several other aspects to your career that you’ll also need to consider if you want to prosper and climb all the way to the top.
Set Clear Career Goals
Knowing exactly what you want from your engineering career will help you determine what kinds of jobs and projects to pursue, and keep you focused on the right things.
Ask yourself where you want to be in 10-20-30 years career-wise, and only work towards that goal.
If you’re offered a project that sounds interesting but doesn’t further your goal in any way, turn it down. You don’t want to spend years sidetracked from what you’re truly aiming for.
Choose Roles Based on Your Interests
As we’ve already pointed out, there are many different paths and jobs you can choose within the engineering industry. Depending on your personality and the things that interest you, select projects that appeal to who you are and who you want to be.
If you’re not a “people person,” managing huge engineering projects might not be the best choice. On the other hand, if you hate the idea of sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day, you might want to choose a more hands-on role.
Work on Improving Your Soft Skills
A debate has been going on about the importance of soft skills and whether they carry more weight than actual job-specific qualifications.
Personally, I think soft skills play a huge role in career development, but they can never actually replace the knowledge and experience a specific role requires.
However, working on your communication skills, your organizational forte, and your leadership abilities will all help you climb the career ladder and land that dream job.
Take the time to sign up for a course and read books that focus on your soft skills. But more importantly: know your limitations, and don’t try to work on something you’re extremely bad at. Rather focus on the skills you will need to reach the goal you’ve set yourself.
If you realize you’re very unsuited for your goal job as you are right now, be honest with yourself. Explore how much you need to learn and grow in order to get there.
If success seems improbable, try focusing on a more attainable goal for starters, and your work your way up once you get there.
Network With Other Engineering Professionals
Networking is a great way to advance your career.
And it’s not just about meeting someone who can help you out. It’s about gaining a new perspective and being introduced to different ways of doing things.
Try to attend a networking event every once in a while and meet people in person, but also make it a point to be active on social networks (notably LinkedIn). Take some time out of each week to communicate with other professionals, just for the sake of getting to know people.
Don’t just ask yourself how a person can help you get your dream job. True, that’s one of the aspects of networking to focus on, but don’t just blindly chase a connection with that one specific person. Cast your net wider, and you might be introduced to a project you’ve not yet heard of, but that is just what you’ve been looking for.
Don’t Forget About Balance
Pursuing a high-powered career like engineering will require a lot of your time and effort. You’ll need to pull long hours, spend time networking and working on your skills, and you might fall into the trap of all work and no play.
Remember that a work-life balance is key in any career – and the more demanding a career gets, the more important the balance becomes.
Make time to unwind, de-stress, and do something that’s just for you. Don’t let yourself believe that a few hours a week on social media or reading an industry-related book qualifies as time off. You need to actually step away from work, leave the house, and focus on something completely different.
Only when your brain has time to rest and recharge can you hope to get where you want to be career-wise.
Landing a job in engineering can be a challenge, no doubt. But if you’re determined and ready enough to work on your skills and knowledge, getting into the industry can prove to be the best move you’ve ever made.
Engineering team – DepositPhotos