Keys for Getting Ahead in Your Engineering Career
July 11, 2019
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Propelling an engineering career forward can be challenging, as it can be difficult to know where to focus your efforts to achieve success. You might feel as if you are at a standstill and doing the same tasks repeatedly. If you do feel stuck, however, take control over your future and apply one or more of the following techniques to advance your engineering career in new directions.

🤝 Expand your circle

Joining a trade association or networking group can help you meet like-minded people and expand your connections. By building contacts in your industry, you can also hear about potential job opportunities or opportunities to expand your knowledge. 

Many trade groups host shows, events or conferences that are available only to members. These kinds of events can be a great way not only to network but also to learn about new trends and products in your industry. You can take that knowledge back to your day-to-day job to increase your value and worth.

💪Sharpen soft skills

Getting ahead may mean taking on a management role or developing a startup or side business. To succeed in ventures like those, you need a strong suite of communication skills, negotiating practices and customer service expertise. There are many courses and training materials that can help you learn these skills, but nothing is more valuable than practising them. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people who work at different jobs. Ask a sales colleague how they talk to a customer and learn how you could apply their techniques to your own situation. If you choose a management path, mirror the best boss you have ever had. Think about the things they did that stuck with you and try to apply them as you lead.

🎓 Back to school

An advanced degree may help open doors. The higher your level of education, the more likely you are to be considered for senior roles. If you want a different path than an advanced degree in the same discipline as your bachelor’s degree, consider engineering management. This degree combines professional engineering knowledge with real-world project management applications. A degree in engineering management can teach you the best way to run a project from start to finish, manage personnel and more. Most programs also offer courses in learning soft skills that can be applied to a range of jobs.

👩‍💻 Show your stuff

Most engineers tinker with projects outside of their day jobs. When appropriate, tout your side projects in the workplace. If you build a video game from a Raspberry Pi or design your own city in AutoCAD, show that off. Having an interest in finding solutions or creating new ones is an attractive quality to managers and employers. It shows how you think and solves problems, and also offers insight into your personality and working style. You may think your weekend projects are just for fun, but they may also help you project your career forward.

🤗 Be a cheerleader

In addition to sharing your work with colleagues, lift them up when they do the same for you. Supporting and congratulating a peer on something they have done is not the only kind; it also shows people that you are considerate and concerned with more than your own success. When the time comes for promotions or other considerations, it is to your benefit to be seen as a supportive advocate for others.

Do not be scared to root for yourself, as well. Determine your skillset and worth, and then build upon those to the best of your ability. Display your work on a personal website, LinkedIn or other social media outlets like Twitter or Instagram, if applicable. You never know who will see it. 

Advancing any career can be tricky. Engineering roles have a lot of potential to either remain stagnant or soar to new heights. With a little bit of elbow grease, your career can move ahead in ways you may have never imagined.

By Lauren Mineau

Article Sponsored by Digi-Key Electronics

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