Given that so many young people seem to be interested in an engineering-related career, we wanted to compile some tips that would help to send these young engineers in the right direction.
First, it is a great idea if you can identify specific people and projects and products that have been an inspiration for you. If you have always loved Apple products, the late Steve Jobs may have been your mentor. Or perhaps you are inspired by the Segway and its inventor, Dean Kamen. If the person and products are known at all, it is easy to get a lot of information about how those people and products became great successes. Then, be sure to emulate their positive traits in everything that you do – personally, scholastically and professionally.
Next, we highly recommend that you assemble a good project portfolio. You should try to take part in any hands-on learning experience that you can. This means that you will have unique projects to show any potential employer when you get out of school. Many of the students you compete against will merely be able to list the classes they took, while you will have specific, concrete projects completed. More importantly, you will be more likely to keep the knowledge you learned because you have used the knowledge to engineer something tangible.
It also is very important to network as much as you can. If you ever want to be a leader in your engineering field, it is very important to know people, not just have a lot of engineering knowledge. You should try to go to engineering and science lectures at your university and get to know the speakers. You also can check with the alumni group at your school and get a list of graduates who want to network with current students. You also can network with Linkedin.com. But you should always try to meet people in person when you can.
We also advise that you work in a scientific or engineering team as much as you can. When you are in your career, you are going to be working on projects with other people most of the time. The people skills that you develop working on engineering and scientific projects in college will help you later on.
Further, you should try to attain a leadership role in any project you work on. Actually, you do not have to be a team leader to be a leader. You can really do some forms of leadership from any part of the group. You will be able to influence how people are working with each other and affect the decision making process. The leader of an engineering company does not always have to be the actual manager of the project or the president of the company.
Last, an engineer can be very proficient in all of the scientific aspects of the job, but if he or she does not have any business sense, he or she will not be as valuable to the firm. So you should try to take business classes so you understand about profits and losses, contract negotiation and so on.