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The proverb goes hindsight is 20/20, which essentially means you can make better decisions later on when you have become more knowledgeable about the world. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to make good decisions from the outset when you're still young? The following tips were compiled for young engineers and interestingly, most of these suggestions revolve around lifelong learning. Experienced engineers weighed in and added their voice to help create this top 15 list of the best tips for young engineers.
1. Find a mentor
Your career can easily get off track without the help and guidance of an experienced professional. Mentors provide support, encouragement and they can boost your self-esteem. They can help a young engineer make sound decisions when the correct path becomes full of obstacles or too many unknowns.
2. Manage people
When you establish instrumental connections with people within your organization, you become increasingly valuable to the people running it. It's also really important to nurture the talents of others, especially other engineers within your company. There will always be younger engineers with new kinds of enthusiasm, skills and knowledge surrounding a particular field, so it's important to nurture these relationships. An environment of free-flowing knowledge helps to create a robust organization, capable of withstanding great pressures.
3. Never stop asking questions
There continues to exist a fear of sticking out like a sore thumb. Many people have stopped asking questions out of this fear. But remember, a mind that asks questions is a mind that continues to grow. Also, experienced engineers report that asking simple questions can pick out holes in engineering designs. Some of the most basic questions have revolutionized entire design projects. Keep this in mind: if something is not clear, ask a question about it.
4. Continue to learn
Young, smart engineers realize that education at a university is just the very beginning of one's education as an engineer. Engineering careers require constant learning and re-education because of the accelerated pace of knowledge creation and distribution.
5. Keep current on other disciplines
It's necessary to keep up with other engineering disciplines because of the increasing role of innovation in all fields. If an innovative new material is discovered in one field, there's a good chance it might benefit another field as well. Cross-pollination is necessary in the current paradigm. Keeping on top of trends in many disciplines can give you a competitive edge.
Make connections in the real world because people tend to hire and trust those they know. Attend professional meet-ups and lectures outside of your regular classes. Introduce yourself to the lecturers and keep in touch with them via email. Create a LinkedIn profile and connect with people there whom you meet in person. Do this as a regular practice and it will help you create and maintain professional relationships.
7. Create a professional LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile acts as your online resume. Put all of your crucial information on your profile, including your list of projects. Include any volunteer work as well. After you have listed all your information, you may be surprised to discover how many recruiters notify you. Companies use LinkedIn routinely to scout for talent and positions.
8. Build a portfolio of projects
Create a portfolio of projects you created in college and outside of college. Add them to your resume and to your professional LinkedIn page. Most employers review online portfolios when the applicant has limited work experience.
9. Develop leadership skills
Most organizations look for tangible leadership experience when hiring. Look for opportunities within college to lead a team or project. You can also create your own project outside of college and find people to help you with it. If you decide to create your own project, choose something that you are passionate about.
10. Work in teams
In college, a lot of work is done in a solitary fashion. Most organizations require people to work in teams, so practice working with others every chance you get. Learn how to get along with others using mediation techniques while working towards a common goal. Learn how to solve conflicts in a peaceful manner and this skill will carry you a long way.
11. Practice your communication skills.
Employers love engineers who possess good communication skills. Engineers have to attend meetings, present lectures and resolve conflicts in groups. The upper management of any company will take notice if you show an aptitude for communication.
12. Turn your free time into productivity.
Instead of relaxing during summer breaks, get an internship in your particular field of engineering. Once you acquire a new skill, update your resume. This will set you apart from the pack and show future employers that you possess passion for your field.
13. Pick your desired field early on.
If you are in school, pick your favorite subject and dive deep to see if there are career opportunities within that field. Getting an internship is perhaps one of the best ways to find out if the field is right for you. Also, ask your mentor about possible career opportunities in your chosen field.
14.Gain positive experiences over a big paycheck.
It's going to be tempting to choose the opportunity that is the most lucrative. However, it's more important to choose a place you'd like to work over a big paycheck. Doing work that allows your experience to grow will lead to more choices in the future. And, yes, you'll have even more lucrative choices, too, after you've developed your positive experiences at companies you value.
15. Be business-oriented.
As your company prospers, so will you. You may feel removed from considering how your own salary affects the business, but do it anyway. Once you see the costs of running a business from the perspective of your company, you'll know how to deliver real value to your organization. Work within the timeframes that are expected of you and look for ways to solve problems that no one else considers.
If you decide to use some of these tips, you will definitely gain a competitive edge.
Leah Stephens is a writer, artist, YouTuber and experimenter. Follow her on Twitter.
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Written by Leah Stephens