As an engineer, you may be busy figuring out how to design the most efficient engine, design and construct the biggest bridge, solve a potential food shortage, and much more. But, if you’re trying to figure out how to advance your career, there are plenty of options to consider that may seem a little overwhelming at first. And if advancing your career isn’t something that’s crossed your mind yet, then you should definitely pay it some attention. Engineering opportunities are booming right now, and no matter what area of this industry you are trained and experienced in, you can be sure that your skills are in high demand around the world. We’ve put together some top tips to help you take your engineering career to the next level.
#1. Build Your Portfolio:
You may have already done some really great work, but have you recorded any of your accomplishments, outcomes, designs, and products, etc.? Each time that you complete a project, it’s a good idea to take some time to write your own case study and document what you have done to get there while outlining and demonstrating your top results. Then, you can take this information and use it to update and polish your resume, online profiles, personal website, networking contacts and much more. The more your story and your accomplishments are available for people to see, the more you’ll be at the top of their minds.
#2. Plan Your Career Path:
You may be an engineer, but where exactly do you want your career to end up? The field of engineering is very broad and diverse, and there are countless career journeys that you could take. Maybe you want to spend some time working on continuing education for engineers and learning new disciplines. Perhaps your goal is to end up working for a bigger company, or maybe you have hopes of becoming your own boss and starting your own company eventually. Only you know the answers to these questions, so it’s a good idea to start documenting your plan and setting some goals for yourself when it comes to achieving the path that you have decided on for your career. Be sure to set achievable goals with reasonable deadlines to help yourself stay on track.
#3. Work with a Mentor:
If you are serious about taking your career in engineering to the next level, then it may be worth getting a mentor who can help you make the right choices and provide valuable career advice – especially if you’re not yet sure exactly where you would like your career to take you and need some help and guidance when it comes to figuring out your path. Choose a mentor who you respect and can learn a lot from, and meet with them regularly to discuss your career, receive their advice, share engineering experiences and learn valuable lessons.
#4. Continue Learning:
No matter what engineering career path you have decided on, it’s important that you are dedicated to continuous learning. Make sure that you keep up with all the latest engineering trends, both in your own chosen field and in any related disciplines. Although you may have chosen to be specialized when it comes to your career, learning how to work in other disciplines can certainly be a bonus, particularly if you are planning to work on larger projects. Consider embarking on new training courses, additional learning programs, and schooling, certifications, webinars, or simply spending some time reading all the latest research and news. Thanks to the increasing speed of technology advancement and the world in general today, everybody has become a lifelong learner, and it’s easier than ever to continue learning new things every day.
#5. Never Stop Networking:
Networking isn’t just for business professionals – it has always been and continues to be the best way to advance your career and uncover new opportunities that you may have remained unaware of otherwise. The best place to start is by joining professional organizations and attending any conferences or other events that they arrange, but you can also expand your network by keeping in touch with your old classmates, former colleagues and others that you have met in your field. You should reach out to your networking contacts on a regular basis to update them on what’s going on for you, and bear in mind – networking is a two-way street, so you should always be looking to give as much as you can, too. Never go into networking expecting to get great things out of it if you have nothing to offer.
#6. Improve Your Soft Skills:
These days, it’s not enough to just have the technical skills required for a career in engineering – that’s just the beginning of your career. Soft skills are more important than ever before these days, with companies looking for workers who are not only highly-skilled engineers but also excel in areas like communication, teamwork, problem-solving and much more. If you’re able to demonstrate not only strong technical skills in engineering but also that you are a well-rounded candidate with a strong combination of both hard and soft skills, you’re in with a better chance of being a front runner for many lucrative positions.
#7. Develop Business Skills:
It’s well worth going above and beyond the engineering world and spending some time learning what makes companies tick. Spend some time investigating areas such as operations, finance, and sales – not only will this stand you in very good stead if your career path involves starting your own engineering business in the future, but it will also make you more of a valuable, well-rounded candidate when it comes to working on team projects and taking on new positions. The more you know, the better able you are to perform to your highest ability.
#8. Ask for Stretch Assignments:
If you want to work hard and get yourself to the next level in your engineering career, then you will need to prove it to those that you work with. Don’t just wait around for somebody to give you a chance – be proactive when it comes to expanding your knowledge and experience; seek leadership roles for your next projects and have a conversation with your supervisor or manager to figure out ways in which you can take on more responsibilities.
#9. Share Your Expertise:
Finally, continue to invest some time outside of work in building your portfolio and presence in the engineering industry. You may want to consider creating a blog or website where you can share your engineering knowledge and expertise with others, helping you become a recognized, authoritative voice within your field. Take advantage of any speaking opportunities that may come up at local schools or engineering functions – this will be different from your day job but can help you establish yourself as a strong influencer in the engineering world. People are always looking for experts and advice, and if you’re able to provide that and be known for it, it will help you become an extremely valuable candidate.
Engineers do great things for the world – and when it comes to furthering your engineering career, there are plenty of great things you can do for yourself.
Author Bio: Zoe is a young, passionate writer with ample experience in business, blogging and all things e-commerce. Connect with her on Twitter @HelloZoePrice