Your schooling may have taught you the ins and outs of all the basic skills needed for a successful career in engineering—math, analytics, design and more. But, many new graduates enter the workforce unable to keep up with the expertise of many seasoned professionals.
While it takes years to acquire the talent and skill of someone who’s been in the industry for, say, 10 or 20 years, there are ways to keep up with and impress your senior colleagues. We’ve included four career-boosting ideas entry-level engineers can begin doing right now.
1. Improve Your Public Speaking Skills
Public speaking is arguably one of the most dreaded skills to master in any professional setting. But, it’s also one of the most impressive and crucial skills to have. Whether you’re speaking in a small meeting or in a large presentation, it’s important to speak clearly in order for your audience to understand what you’re asking them to invest in (whether that’s you, a project, etc.).
Develop a list of talking points, or the main takeaways that you want to emphasize any time you need to speak with managers or senior engineers. Rehearse a strong introduction and an even stronger conclusion with a coworker—these are the parts of your speech your audience will remember the most.
2. Commit to Being a Lifelong Learner
Though you may be fresh out of school, there is still a lot of learning left to do in your first engineering job. Many companies will have their own unique onboarding process; however, there are other things that entry-level engineers can do to continue sharpening their skills.
Consider becoming a member of a professional network, which often include a number of resources and connections to other professionals. These could include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers or the American Association of Engineering Societies.
New engineers should also consider investing in higher quality engineering tools and workshops or courses that help improve specific skills that weren’t covered in the classroom. Another option is to invest time in a personal side project to practice your skills in your downtime.
3. Understand Business Principles
Maybe you were required to take a business course in school, or maybe you weren’t. Either way, it’s important to keep even the most basic business principles in mind in any work environment. Most business principles are the same for any industry and remain unchanged, according to Andrew Campbell from Harvard Business Review:
“1. If you want to earn above the cost of capital (if you want to create value), you must get a higher return on your efforts than the average competitor.
2. To get a higher return than the average competitor, you must have an advantage or you must compete in an unusually attractive sector.
3. There are only two ways to get an advantage. Your prices must be higher or your costs, including the cost of your balance sheet and the cost of taxes, must be lower.
4. Unusually attractive sectors are those where the forces of competition are muted. Usually this is because there are few competitors. But there are other reasons, such as legislation or demand growing faster than supply.”
Entry-level engineers probably won’t be looked at as the go-to resource for all business-related questions, but it can’t hurt to keep these principles in mind. Understanding the impact of your effort and ROI has on a company’s overall business results may trigger a new idea to improve them. Likewise, it may also help you develop new, innovative ways to stay productive and on-task so your company remains competitive.
4. Use Critical Thinking Skills
Research found that nearly 60 percent of employers said critical thinking or problem solving skills were the top soft skills lacking among college graduates. So, why is this important for engineers? There is plenty of problem solving to be done on a day-to-day basis when it comes to your projects, presentations and more. Demonstrating critical thinking skills—like analysis, conductive reasoning, objectivity and more—can instill more trust in your employer to hand off more responsibilities to you.
One Bulletproof Way to Advance Your Career
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Top engineers set themselves apart by using devices, which enable them to work better and faster than pros using an ordinary mouse. Learn how you can advance your career with them here.