Engineers are creative problem solvers with an eye for detail and a knack for planning, but sometimes they can forget to apply the same skills to their own career. There are a huge number of opportunities for engineers out there, whether it’s in moving up to a more senior position in your company or striking out on your own to start your own engineering business. Your level of experience is going to be crucial in determining just how many steps forward you can take, but there are some simple ways to give your career a boost and ensure you have the best chances of progression.
Here are a few of the best ways to enhance your engineering career and, potentially, change your professional and personal life for the better.
Make a Plan
Researching, designing,and planning are probably part of what you do every day, so take the same approach to your career. You will have an instinct as to where you see yourself going in your career, whether it’s a leadership role or at the helm of your own company. Once you know what you’re aiming for you can map out what you’ll need to achieve your goals, and the objectives you’ll need to hit to complete those goals. Do you need to complete extra training such as people management? Are there projects you need to complete before you’ll be considered experienced enough for a promotion? Set yourself some achievable deadlines to meet each milestone and write it down somewhere to keep you focused.
Create a Portfolio of Your Work
Regardless of the industry they’re working in, too many people neglect to document their career achievements. You should create a portfolio of work which showcases your successful projects, key designs,and formal qualifications. You can also write up descriptions and case studies to accompany each milestone to explain your role in the project, what you learned and any accomplishments you’re proud of.
Your physical portfolio is something you can keep on you when you’re networking or attending interviews for promotion, but you should also create an online portfolio. You can share this either on any online profiles or a website or simply by email when applying for a new position.
Find a Mentor
A mentor is a person in your industry who you seek to emulate and learn from in your own career. Finding the right person can be a significant help when it comes to carving out a career path towards a goal. They can share their own advice, experiences,and mistakes they made to help you make the right choices. If you’re employed by a company, it’s often a good idea to choose a mentor who is external as you’ll be able to openly share your wider career aspirations rather than just company ones.
The ability to network with other professionals in the engineering industry will be essential in your career advancement. This includes building strong professional relationships with colleagues and senior management but should also extend outside of your company. If you have the opportunity to work on a project outside of your company, you should consider it as a way to get extra experience and collaborate with new engineers. You should join a couple of industry organizations and attend their events and conferences so that you can keep on top of the latest industry news and trends. Stay connected to former classmates and, if you do move companies, don’t underestimate the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. You never know when a networking contact will be able to help you in your career, or when you may be able to support them.
Continue to Learn
Any engineer who is worth their salt knows that they’ve never finished their education. Technology and the world itself areconstantly evolving bringing new problems which require new solutions. There is always something new to learn whether it’s a new technical skill or an entirely new field of engineering. Ensuring you have a wide skill set will make you a much more attractive candidate when it comes to promotion, or it could help you take on a diverse range of projects if you choose to start your own business. Training courses and further education is going to be key here. For example, you could study for an online master of science in civil engineering and take your skills to a more senior level while you continue to work.
Soft Skills Are Essential
While technical skills are obviouslyimportant, to have the best chance of getting ahead you need to work your ‘soft’ skills too. This is your ability to work with others such as communication, teamwork,and ability to contribute to a positive working environment for others. These are the factors that will put you ahead of another candidate with identical training and experience and make you a generally well-rounded person in life.
Don’t Forget About Business Skills
Even if you don’t intend to start your own engineering business, a deeper knowledge of how a business runs could make you an invaluable asset to a company. Learn about finances, day to day operations and the sales process and you will be able to better understand the motivations behind the projects you are working on. If you can grasp the importance of keeping projects to deadlines and under budget, you will be able to improve your performance.
Put Yourself Forward
Don’t be afraid to let your managers and directors know that you have ambitions to progress. Request the opportunity to prove yourself with extra projects or increased responsibility and show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for the company. If you have an idea which could improve a project, speak up and show that you can innovate as well as follow instruction. You should also consider creating a website or blog so you can promote your ideas, opinions, and expertise. This will help to establish you as a credible and educated person who is really involved in the industry and could even attract new opportunities if the right people see it.