Mechanical Engineering is a consistently growing field with promising pay, but it takes more than understanding the science and math behind machines to be successful. While there are many specialized areas within the profession, the following tips can help all engineers create a thriving career.
1. Get hands on experience
Having experience before starting your career search is vital in helping you stand out. Adding to your experience after you have already landed a job shows a willingness to work hard at improving your skills.
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door. Look for one where you can work under a talented mentor to really boost your benefits.
Take advantage of any education that your company provides. Many employers want their engineers to be the best so they’ll pay for you to attend extra training. Some even have their own training programs within the company.
Let your boss know about any conferences coming up that would benefit the team and they may consider letting you take the time away to attend.
Always be on the lookout for ways to gain extra experience outside of your workplace. Your new knowledge and confidence will show.
2. Be well versed
There are many facets that make up the engineering business. Knowing the financial side of engineering and having a basic knowledge of the different fields of work will help tremendously.
The finances involved in a project are more than just the cost of parts, and understanding this will change the way you approach your work. Labor is expensive so it’s in your best interest to work as efficiently as possible to save your employer time and money.
When you’re first starting out you’ll likely be asked to perform a broad set of tasks that can change each day. Being able to adapt to each assignment will go far in showing your worth as an employee. This will also help you narrow down what aspects of mechanical engineering you love most and help you focus your career and sharpen particular skills as you continue to work.
3. Contribute to the Team
Teamwork is a huge part of engineering. The best innovations come from a cohesive group of team players that are ready and willing to share their ideas and concerns. When engineers combine their knowledge and skill sets they produce the most effective products and solutions.
Your manager is also part of the team. They are seen as the leader and if the people under them aren’t performing well it looks bad on them and your company. Make sure you are working just as hard for your manager as they are for you. A good employee can take direction well but also be proactive and get stuff done without much guidance. Establish a good relationship with your manager and reach out for help when needed.
Sometimes, your team will consist of people outside of your company. Traffic product manufacturers are a great example, where engineers often have to collaborate with city or neighborhood planners to ensure the technology being implemented is appropriate for the demands of the location. Working in teams, even outside of your professional circle, can be a great way to innovate and network as well.
As with any career, networking plays a major role in your success. You must be able to express yourself clearly in social situations. Communication is particularly important in engineering because presentations are a common way to present what you’ve been working on. You’ll also have to communicate ideas and issues to coworkers, managers, and clients.
Keep an eye out for professional events that you can attend and brush up on your elevator speech. You should be able to clearly describe what you do in the time it takes to ride an elevator. That way when you meet someone new and they ask what you do, you can get straight to the point. This is an advantage when you may only have a few minutes with someone who is in high demand.
You don’t have to establish a network from the ground up as long as you stay connected to your alma mater. Keep in touch with professors and former classmates and attend school functions to reconnect. Networking can open up new opportunities and conversations can lead to helpful solutions for you and your team.
5. Love what you do
When you love what you do it’ll show in your work. Engineers should be passionate about their jobs because there’s a large responsibility that comes with the profession.
It’s important to maintain outstanding moral and ethical judgement when it comes to your work because the product of your efforts can have substantial negative effects on society. If you don’t enjoy your work and you’re careless about how you perform, social, economic, and environmental damage can occur.
Make sure you’re in this field for the right reasons. Face challenges with a new perspective and influence society with innovation and you’re on your way to becoming a successful engineer.