I recently participated in the University of Notre Dame College of Engineering Women’s Advisory Group on a mission to help engineering students transition into successful professionals with rewarding careers. We worked in collaboration with the Center for Career Development and met with upcoming graduates getting ready to make their mark on the world. We discussed the following ideas on how to develop engineering careers that are fulfilling personally and professionally.
Build your network
Actively developing your personal and professional network is likely the most important thing you can do to develop career advancement opportunities in engineering. The students we met with recognize this and put a lot of effort toward connecting with colleagues and peers by:
- Participating in study groups
- Meeting with teaching assistants
- Leveraging their professors’ connections in industry or academia
- Finding a mentor
- Following industry publications and blogs
- Connecting, sharing, and engaging on related social media
Being connected to peers, colleagues, and industry thought leaders expands your knowledge, enhances innovation, and broadens your scope of engineering career opportunities. Actively engaging and participating online, offline, or both, opens doors that might have otherwise stayed closed.
Seek out the jobs that interest you
The happiest and most successful engineers I meet and work with are those whose jobs directly or indirectly involve their passions and interests. They know that the skills they possess make them the best person for the job and feel like they are making a valued contribution.
Finding engineering career opportunities that align with your passions, talents, and values is a journey, not a destination. It can be rough at times, but being open to new ideas and following your interests will help you gain skills, knowledge, and expertise that continually advance your career.
Think outside of the box
A common theme during our panel discussions was that you don’t need to be an engineer at a tech giant to be happy. Every company needs technology even if it isn’t their primary export. There are incredible engineering career opportunities available not only throughout the United States but around the world. Seeking technology jobs outside of tech hubs like the Silicon Valley might position you near your other loves: your family, a balanced lifestyle, the right climate, a healthy work atmosphere, and more.
Engineers that have access to a wide variety of career opportunities are those that self-motivate along their individual path. Your career is what you make of it.