Do you know that you will spend about 90,000 hours of your life at work? Once you realize that, do you see yourself spending all that time in a profession where you are not feeling fulfilled?
Anyone who starts their professional life after their engineering studies faces many questions. How to find my professional path? How to be successful at my new job? Engineering graduates are often torn between what they think they know how to do, what they imagine have to do, and in the end what their job in reality is. Here is the best advice to help you find your engineering career path and excel at it.
1. Find The Middle Ground Between What You Want To Be And What You Can Be
What you are good at, what the company needs, and what you want to be can be three completely different things. But it is crucial to understand that life is not a pastry shop where we can only choose the best cakes. Life often brings us various obstacles and challenges, but usually, something good hides behind them. To feel good, you have to experience the bad.
When choosing an engineering job or career that is right for you, be prepared that what you are good at does not necessarily mean that it is what you love. Nor that the company that needs the qualifications you possess is a company you would be interested in for work.
Every experience you gain in life carries an inestimable value if you treat it the right way. The job you choose may be bad for you, but you may also be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to be good for you. Regardless of the outcome, whether good or bad, you will understand how the business world works. You will have the opportunity to get to know yourself better and your place in the business world. Based on this, you can look for other and better prospects to further develop your engineering career.
2. Your Mindset As A Career Booster
Your career begins with the mindset. Only those who bring a positive attitude to everyday working life will regularly be able to perform at their best and stand out with a positive image.
If you want to make a successful engineering career, you will also encounter many challenges. Concerning both activities and interpersonally as well. On the one hand, you have to master these challenges well. On the other hand, you must never lose sight of the goal: professional advancement.
Create a professional development plan with clear goals and objectives about what you will learn, what skills you will acquire, and where you want to be at specific times (every 2 or 5 years, for example) throughout your career. Consult your trusted bosses, the human resources department, and other professionals in your field to find out what certifications, career moves, courses, and titles are right for you to advance in your career.
You will need regular breaks from everyday work to maintain a healthy mindset. And to always question yourself for which goal you are willing to invest so much energy.
3. Understand Networking As An Opportunity
Whether you search for a new career or try to figure out which path you want to take, making connections is a great way to enter the business world. The more people you know, the more likely you will see different profiles of people or occupations that might appeal to you. Also, you significantly improve your social and communication skills if you are open to new acquaintances. These skills will benefit you when looking for job interviews or working with clients.
So, the more people you know, the better insight into their work environment, human nature, and the jobs they have. It also increases the number of options for finding future work. Research and surveys show that many job vacancies are filled through this kind of ‘networking’. Plus, when you try to put all the jobs and potential careers on paper, it is easy to forget many. Sometimes it happens because of brain blockage and nervousness, and sometimes because you do not know what kind of jobs there are.
Maybe in those jobs that you do not even know about, there is one of those jobs that you would excel in. By expanding your acquaintances, you can gain insight into many different types of jobs. In this way, you can expand your horizons to understand which is the most optimal according to your abilities and desires.
4. Willingness To Help Others Can Help You To Get Ahead Quickly
To be considered for a possible engineering job or promotion, you not only have to be good at networking but also be helpful. For example, if you relieve your superiors of annoying tasks that are not meaningful to you at first glance, you will be remembered as a problem solver.
This assistance can pay off in the long run, as you can get a promotion faster. Of course, you should demonstrate the same willingness to help your team as well, to ensure a cooperative working atmosphere.
Always be a team player and treat others positively and respectfully, regardless of their position in the hierarchy. Give credit to others when necessary and praise your colleagues when a job is well done. Doing so is not a distraction from your achievements. People associate someone positive with competence and excellence.
5. Resilience As A Prerequisite For A Successful Career
When you want to achieve professional advancement quickly, it is not enough to do service to rule. On the one hand, you have to stand out with your technical expertise. On the other hand, you have to be resilient when others give up.
Anyone doing activities, projects, or work that needs to be done while others are having their well-deserved end of the day will have a stellar career more often than average. You have to decide whether you are willing to pay this price. It is hard work, but it will get you to the top.
6. Be Flexible
Flexibility pays off, in particular, a few years after you start your engineering career. If former classmates have settled down and no longer want to travel or move for attractive engineering jobs, this is your chance. Anyone who is flexible enough to accept uncomfortable conditions (such as traveling or changing their place of residence) is often rewarded with a higher job role.
It is also possible to switch directly to a management position. And accordingly, quickly move up the career ladder. Flexibility is not only proven by moving or traveling for your job. You can work extra hours, take night shifts or be on a call. Just make sure that all of your efforts are recognized and valued.
7. Find A Mentor To Level Up
They are widespread in professional sports, the fitness studio, and among managers: personal mentors and coaches. However, they can be of use to everyone. Anyone who wants to make a career should look for a mentor.
Your mentor could be a former manager who changed companies a few years ago or who is now in retirement.
And what is the point? Anyone who talks to people who have been in their profession for a long time can learn something from their mistakes and be shown career paths and possible downsides.
Write a letter to potential mentors, call them or invite them to dinner. Former executives are happy about such an intellectual exchange. And having an advocate at your side should be beneficial for your engineering career. People with only a couple of years more experience or a senior colleague usually have a broad vision and the ability to advise you in many aspects. And give back: As your career progresses, mentor younger people or other less fortunate friends who have not found a job yet. You never know when they may be in a position to help you in the future.
8. Identify And Reflect On Your Weaknesses
When people work together, mistakes happen. This is completely normal and accordingly, it is usually handled very sympathetically by companies.
However, it is crucial for an engineering career that you are aware of your weaknesses and tries to eliminate them.
Should you nevertheless make a mistake, you should communicate it as soon as possible. In most cases, this honesty is rewarded, as many employees find it difficult to openly admit mistakes. If you want to make progress and ideally prove yourself for a higher engineering role, you are a role model for these employees and shape the company you work in with an open error culture.
9. Patience As A Virtue – Building Pressure Does Not Lead To Rapid Career Advancement
Indeed, you can openly communicate your desire for career advancement without any problems. Because the following applies: if nobody knows that you have the desire for professional advancement, one can only guess. Not everyone wants to get promoted and pursue a career at any cost.
However, there is a fine line to walk here. The clear positioning that you want to make a career and move up accordingly is correct and helps you in your presentation. But, you should keep a healthy dose in mind. This means that you should not communicate this wish again after every extraordinarily well-completed task, but also allow your superiors to be able to map opportunities in the first place.
In large corporations, in particular, there are clear structures that do not always allow flexible career advancement (unlike what is often the case with a start-up, for example). This patience will pay off for you at the end of the day.
10. Self-Employment Can Also Bring A Career Leap
You may face difficulties finding a suitable job. Or, you are good at your job, follow all the advice and still, the promotion is a long time coming. What can have both subjective and objective reasons often makes many employees despair.
Many ambitious people forget more and more that there is also the possibility to get off the hamster wheel completely. In the form of self-employment, you will often have to accept a drop in salary at the beginning, but you will be your boss from the start – with all the rights and obligations that go with it.
Every hour of work that you invest in gradually builds up your company and your business’s success. The profit that was previously distributed to your employer will now go directly into your assets. However, self-employment also entails many risks, which must not be ignored under any circumstances.
11. Continual Education
If you have already been lucky enough to land your first job, this piece of advice is especially important: continuous training is the indispensable key to making a successful career and – more importantly – to be able to move up the ladder. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, has wrapped this simple reference in a world-famous quote: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”
You can only continue to rise and not be overtaken by colleagues from left or right if you are willing to continue investing in your specialist knowledge or leadership skills after your first successes in your career. Last but not least, this is also important insofar as you are always up to date with further training and can react optimally to changing requirements in the job market.
12. Think Big – And Accept Mistakes
If you want to make a career, you should not just assume a comfort zone and do just what is expected from you. And despite growth, do not do everything yourself, but trust your colleagues.
So, what goes with every career? Mistakes. While there is a lot to be learned from webinars and books, there is also the pain of going backward. Failure is part of success. Learn to embrace your fears.
Insecurities and fears are the worst options that can happen to you. They not only make you depressed but also instill in you the thought that you will not achieve anything. Everyone indeed has their fears, but what they teach you is to find a mechanism to overcome them and overcome them. Secured and safe, be brave enough to face your fear and emerge victorious.
13. Be Consistent
You do not become the best overnight. The combination of years and hard work and honesty led them to this success. What you need is patience, because without patience you will not be able to get anywhere near your desired goal. What makes human abilities perfect is practice and experience. So even when you think you are not good enough at something you want to do, do not give up on the idea, keep learning about it, be persistent and improve. If you want that wish to come true, fulfill it passionately. Take small steps, especially when starting your engineering career.
If you are aware of the fact that you are just at the beginning and that you still need to improve and progress, you will gain more enthusiasm for the path ahead of you. No one is a perfect beginner, much less a beginner, but that does not mean that opportunities will not open up for you. Every morning is a new beginning. Even when you think you are not doing something well, but you still love doing it, be consistent. Do not give up just because you feel like you are not getting the results you want. In the beginning, you should be modest, and then, when you wake up one morning, you will realize that you too have come a long way from the starting point.
14. Experience Is Crucial
When you are persistent and consistent, your experience is enriched and this allows you to reach new heights. But your experience is not the only experience from which you can derive some benefit. Other people’s experiences are also important. Try to connect with the right people in the business, those who are open-minded, and who know how to share. Their experience can be extremely important to your progress. Also, experience includes mistakes, from which one learns best. You will apply the knowledge acquired there daily.
15. Live Your Life
The routine sounds boring, but you should set aside a certain amount of time for work every day. Moreover, you should tune in to those things that make you better. When you want to achieve success, every minute counts. But this does not mean that you should “stop living your life” but just adjust it in the way that is most productive for you. Sometimes the right ideas come to us when we least think about it.
After years of training, exams, projects, and stress, you finally managed to throw your graduation cap in the air, congratulations! You are concluding an important stage of your life. However, not everything is rosy, since you will most likely feel confused and nervous because starting your professional life involves a change, a new role with greater commitments and responsibilities.
As you can see, following many of these factors takes effort and discipline, but it is certainly worth it. After finishing a university degree, start looking for aspiring job opportunities. These 15 career tips will help you to achieve success after graduation!