They say that you have two choices in life: you can either work smart or work hard. Well, engineers do both to be successful in their career. Engineering careers are intense, difficult paths that can challenge even the smartest and hardest of workers. But it can also be the most rewarding. As an engineer, you will be solving important problems that can save lives, that can improve standards of living or even start innovative trends.
So where to start? If you’re in high school and/or you’re considering a career in engineering, there are a few things you can start doing right now. These steps will help you determine if engineering is right for you and put you in a position to be further ahead than the competition when you enter the work force.
1) Live and Breath Engineering
The main difference between a novice and expert is time. It’s true, some people out there that are just naturally gifted, but very few people can sit down at a piano, spend a few hours and play Tchaikovsky. Most of us need to spend years practicing our craft, honing our skills and taking a proverbial piece of coal and slowly turning it into a diamond. The difference between those people who are good at something and those who are great, winning the awards and taking all the opportunities is largely the amount of time that they spend doing it.
If you want to be that sort of expert, you’ll need to dive into engineering and spend your free time immersing yourself in it. Read books about engineering, talk to engineers that you know, start your own projects. If you spend the time surrounding yourself in the world of engineering, you’ll be well ahead of the competition when you need to impress employers.
2) Explore Opportunities … Everywhere
Exploring opportunities goes hand in hand with living and breathing engineering. When you surround yourself with engineering, you’ll start to notice that there are opportunities everywhere. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but start here:
- Research engineering summer camps
- Job shadow
- Enter contests and win awards
- Join a club
- Tutor someone
When you have these opportunities on your resume, employers will be impressed. Employers want people who are passionate and excited about doing their jobs. This will show them that you go above and beyond to be a part of the engineering community.
3) Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer
Along with finding opportunities, don’t forget to volunteer. If there’s something that’s hard to come by in novice engineers, it’s experience. Employers are much more likely to hire someone who is fresh out of college if they can prove that they already have a wealth of experience in a volunteer capacity.
Use job search tools to find volunteer and internship opportunities around your community. Ask the people you know if they have any connections to engineers that might have opportunities.
4) Know What to Expect
When you choose a career in engineering, be prepared to deal with challenging science and maths for long periods of time. If you haven’t yet, consider taking a rigorous course of some of the most challenging science and maths courses. This includes AP calculus, AP physics, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science and AP Stats. Taking these courses will do a few things. They’ll prepare you for an intense field of study that uses complex equations to solve important problems. They’ll also give you insight into how much work is involved in an engineering career.
5) Choose the Kind of Engineer You Want to Be
The all-important task of choosing which engineering discipline you want to go in is important. There are many different types of engineers that require different types of skills. For example, you want to pursue a Civil Engineering path and start as a Civil Engineering Technician, the Structural and Building Technology Diploma or the Civil Infrastructure Design Technology Diploma may be the courses for you. If you want a career in Green Building Design, consider a diploma in Green Building and Sustainable Design.
Whichever path you choose, if you start now to prepare yourself, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition when you start applying to jobs. It’s a competitive field, and every edge you can get will help you in the future.