Whether you are an established engineering professional or about to begin your engineering career, you need to think about career advancement goals and the steps needed to accomplish them. Here are some strategies you can employ to increase your chances of career advancement.
Think outside the box
The “box” is your engineering specialty. You may be a subject matter expert, but many of today’s complicated products or services require you to work with people who are in other engineering disciplines or outside of engineering. These groups come together to resolve complex issues and develop solutions. Because you may be asked to collaborate with them and convert their needs into technical requirements, it’s helpful if you learn the fundamentals of their relevant disciplines or business needs.
Develop your soft skills
There is no doubt your technical skills are essential for career mobility. However, written and verbal communication skills are just as important and can be overlooked. Some managers may be hesitant to promote technically proficient engineers who have challenges communicating with others. Because you may be asked to collaborate with colleagues outside of your engineer discipline, being able to communicate with them is vital to your career success.
Ask for new opportunities
One way to advance in your career is to ask for new opportunities so you can stretch your comfort zone. Be open and receptive to openings that are in alignment with your goals. Assert yourself and ask for options to try something new. Taking the initiative and going after what you want is a sign of your commitment to your career.
Networking is important to all professionals. Join and participate in industry groups and professional associations. You can meet other individuals who work in your field and learn about events, conferences, and other resources that contribute to your success. By maintaining relationships, you raise your profile and may even learn about new opportunities that might have been overlooked.
Whether you are a new or experienced engineer, you may benefit from having a mentor to guide you in your role. If your future goals include a managerial or leadership role, this is essential. Your mentor should be someone who has experience in the role. They’ll help you think critically about problems or may guide you to solutions or offer suggestions. However, they won’t tell you what to do.
Betty Boza is a career development specialist for the Fulton Schools Career Center. Her primary responsibility is assisting online, graduate and doctoral students with all aspects of career development including resume preparation, professional network expansion, effective job search strategies and mock interviews.