This post will review how to set yourself up for success while still in college – network, build a resume, apply to internships and co-ops, get involved on campus, talk to recruiters, etc.
As a recent graduate of engineering, it may seem like what it takes to succeed in your field is the same as what has made you a successful student, technical expertise, and knowledge. But in the professional world, success is more complex. While technical and analytical skills are so often the focus of your academic career, your professional career requires added depth for you to be successful. Soft skills like interpersonal collaboration, networking, creative thinking, listening, and communication skills often come into the forefront of your career once you are ready to try your skills in the field. Here is a deeper look at what you can do while still in college to set yourself up for professional success after graduation.
Master the Essential Functions
Engineers are responsible for the preparation of work procedures, installation and test packages, and associated support documentation. They analyze project problems and make recommendations of corrective actions. They monitor scope, budgets, and schedules to ensure project objectives are achieved. They work with a variety of cross-functional stakeholders and need to be able to communicate and work with a broad range of professionals. The most important skills for a civil engineer include analytical skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, management skills, and writing skills.
Develop the Required Soft Skills
Engineers regularly analyze information, plans, and data from a wide variety of sources and use statistical and mathematical techniques to provide solutions. But the hard skills are not enough on their own to ensure professional success. It is often the soft skills that will help you get ahead as an engineer. Successful professionals must be able to communicate clearly and effectively in presentations and plans with a wide variety of audiences, such as public officials, interest groups, and community members. A balance of creative thinking and realistic problem solving will go a long way toward providing the necessary skills. Engineers often struggle with soft skills such as communication or people management. Still, these skills are what will drive your career forward in a field of otherwise very technically adept engineers with similar skill sets and abilities. Consider what unique skills you bring to the table and lean into your strengths to help differentiate yourself and your career.
Try Your Hand at Project Management
Great project management skills are an asset in any industry. This is especially true for mechanical engineering, where time is money. A candidate with great project management skillset can make the difference between landing a large project on time and budget. On the other hand, the lack of this key skillset can not only delay and derail a project, it can damage the company’s reputation with the client and can potentially cause monetary damage.
Emphasize Teamwork and Leadership
Whether you are hiring a fresh graduate looking to start a career or a seasoned professional who has been in the industry for several years, the importance of teamwork skills is difficult to overstate. Collaboration is at the heart of a successful organization. A good team player can get others around him excited about the project and deliver throughput, which is exponentially greater than any one individual can achieve. This is a critical skill in managers where the success of the team and the company depends on working as a team and fostering a collaborative work environment.
Invest in Your Network
Building a professional network before you graduate is challenging, but look into internship and career development programs offered by your school to get you started. Start to get your name out there by sharing your resume with more seasoned professionals for their feedback, and start requesting informational interviews with people you meet to learn more about working in a variety of different roles with different companies. By building your network, you’ll be much better prepared to dive into the job market upon graduation than if you hadn’t.
If you are looking for creative and effective ways to grow your engineering career, give the industry-savvy recruiters at ESGI a call today!