Engineers are problem solvers by nature, but often you will find that engineers do not know how to progress and develop their career. If you want to climb the ladder, rise to leadership positions and get the most out of your job, it is important that you know how to build a successful career in engineering. Although it is challenging and can take a lot of time, effort, and patience, there are a number of steps that you can take to build your career and achieve high levels of success in engineering. So, whether you are just starting an engineering career or you are in a position but looking to progress, then keep reading for a few tips that should help.
Table of Contents
1. Establish Your Career Goals
The best place to start is to sit down and consider your career goals. You may want to climb the ladder within the company that you work for, make a move to a bigger firm or even start your own engineering firm one day. Once you have worked out what you want to achieve with your career, you can then start to map out how you will get there and set a timeframe for when you want to achieve specific goals.
2. Build Up Your Portfolio
Upon the completion of every project that you work on, you should take the time to add to your portfolio. Creating your own portfolio of your work allows you to track your experience, demonstrate your skills and show people what you are capable of. This should be an online portfolio that can easily be shared and viewed by others. The portfolio should contain as much detail as possible, including photographs, videos, and client testimonials. When looking to climb the ladder, you need to be able to show what your achievements are, and a high-quality, detailed, and up-to-date portfolio is one of the best ways that you can do this.
3. Speak To Your Boss
It is always a good idea to speak to your boss when looking to process your career, no matter what your goals are. If you want to progress within the company, they will be able to advise you on what steps need to be taken in order for this to happen. You should also find that speaking to your boss alerts them to the fact that you are keen to progress and could look to move away unless they find a way to promote you in the near future.
4. Ask For Feedback
It is also helpful to ask for feedback from your boss, colleagues, and clients. Part of career progression is identifying and working on your weaknesses, but it is not always clear what these are. By asking for feedback, you can find the areas that you need to work on while also showing that you are committed and keen to improve. It is not always easy receiving constructive feedback, but often it is the best way to improve and turn weaknesses into strengths.
5. Find A Mentor
Engineering can be a tough field to work in. Fortunately, it is a well-trodden path, so there are always those in more senior positions that you can learn from. You may be able to find a mentor within your current business that can guide you and offer support, but if not, then you should look to your professional network (more on this below) or a mentorship program. Mentors in established fields like engineering can be incredibly valuable as they can not only offer career advice but often introduce you to their own network and open up doors that might have otherwise been closed off.
6. Grow Your Professional Network
Following on from this, it is always worthwhile taking steps to grow your professional network. In competitive areas like engineering, knowing the right people can be key for getting ahead and finding new opportunities. Additionally, having a large professional network is also helpful in terms of developing a positive reputation for yourself. The internet can be a great way to grow your network, and it is a handy tool for maintaining contact with people (especially social media), but it is important to network in person as well because it is these face-to-face connections that create the strongest bonds and will be more likely to lead towards exciting new opportunities.
7. Demonstrate Your Expertise
In order to find new opportunities, it is important that you find ways to demonstrate your expertise. Many engineers find it useful to keep a blog and to share posts on social media that showcase their experience, skills, and expertise. You could also speak at schools, speak to the press during projects or become a figure at engineering functions as a way to demonstrate your expertise and get your name out there.
8. Earn A Masters
Bolstering your resume is always an important step to take when looking to advance your career, especially in a technical field like engineering. A master’s in electrical and computer engineering is a great option for those involved in automotive engineering and advanced mobility. You will learn and develop the technical expertise needed for leadership roles in the development of modern vehicles, mobile robotics, and other systems. Electrical and computer engineering has a bright future, and a masters in ECE will put you in a strong position to rise to leadership positions. Additionally, you can take a course that is entirely online, which will make it much easier to fit into your busy schedule and so that you can juggle work, study, and other responsibilities that you have.
9. Take On Additional Responsibilities
Another positive step to take is for additional responsibilities in your role. Not only is this a chance to develop new skills and experiences, but it also communicates that you are keen to learn and progress. It never hurts to ask, and you might find that you can take on a leadership position in your next project that could pave the way for you to take the next step in your career.
10. Work On Your Communication Skills
Communication skills are essential and as important as any technical skills as an engineer. This is because you need to be able to work as part of a team, communicate with people that are not engineers, and build and maintain professional relationships. Not only this, but communication skills are an important part of networking and making a good impression on people – this will be key for developing a positive reputation and advancing your career. Consider if there are any weaknesses in any part of your communication skills, and then work on these, such as public speaking, for example.
11. Develop Leadership Skills
If you want to progress your career and reach management positions, it is important to develop leadership skills. These do not come naturally to some, and it can be hard to develop these skills, but it will be essential if you want to get ahead in your career. This will include the ability to direct a team, communicate effectively (including listening), matching task to skill, resolving conflict, keeping morale high, and uniting a team, just as a few examples. Leadership skills can often be developed with courses, research, and practice. You also need to find ways to demonstrate these leadership skills while at work to stand out to senior management.
12. Understand How Businesses Work
In engineering, it is very easy to focus purely on the project at hand. In order to progress your career, it is helpful to see the big picture and understand how businesses operate. Knowing about finance, strategy, operations, marketing, and how they all link together will give you a stronger understanding of how your work fits in. Additionally, if you have plans to start your own engineering firm one day (like many do), then you should find that this will help when the time comes to start your own business.
13. Stay Current With Tech Developments
Engineers will also need to make an effort to stay current with the latest tech, as this plays a major role in modern-day engineering work. You should read blogs, listen to podcasts, engage with online communities, and attend engineering and tech events and conferences as a way to stay abreast of all the latest developments and trends, and to build a strong network. Currently, a few of the major technologies that you need to have a strong knowledge of include:
- 3D printing
- Virtual and augmented reality
This guide should come in handy for any engineer with aspirations to advance their career. As an engineer, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd, develop useful skills and improve your performance. All of the above will be helpful for this and should help you to advance your career whether you are looking to climb the ladder, move to a larger engineering firm or even start your own engineering firm down the line.
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