As you study to become an engineer, there comes the opportunity to specialize. Engineering is critical in multiple different fields. When you are considering what career you are looking to have, understanding what field you want to work in is critical. Do you want to be a civil engineer and work with city planning, or are you interested in structural engineering and want to work with buildings or bridges? Are you looking to become a chemical engineer, or are you interested in nuclear science? There are engineering opportunities in so many different fields, but it’s critical to specialize and prepare for the type of work you will be doing.
While the technical and analytical skills that are so often the focus of your academic career, your professional career requires added depth for you to be successful. Here is a deeper look at what you can do to set yourself up for professional success after graduation.
1. Master the Essential Functions
Engineers are responsible for preparing work procedures, installation and test packages, and associated support documentation. They analyze project problems and make recommendations for corrective actions. Engineers 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.
2. 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 the soft skills such as communication or people management. But 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.
3. Explore Different Specializations, then commit and dive deep
The best way to choose an engineering field is to test the waters and see what you like best. The skills you need as an engineer are likely transferable across multiple fields. But the knowledge and application of those skills are vastly different between specializations. Once you find the engineering track most relevant to your interests, commit to that field. Dive deep to make sure you know the context necessary to be successful within that field.
4. 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. Start requesting informational interviews with people you meet to learn more about different roles with different companies. By building your network, you’ll be much better prepared to dive into the job market.
For more ways to grow your engineering career, give the industry-savvy recruiters at ESGI a call!