How to Leverage Education in Your Engineering Career? – Education is a vital pillar of your career. It’s what you’ll show to employers when they’re considering your resume, and it’s where you’ll pick up the skills and attributes that’ll help you in your first few job roles. It’s also a gateway into certain fields that it’s difficult not to pass through. You’ll need to study medicine to be a doctor, law to be accepted onto the bar, and engineering in order to be trusted with work pertaining to building structures around the world. In this guide, we’ll look at how education can help you to become an engineer and how you can leverage educational opportunities in order to accelerate your progress in an engineering career.
Your learning starts when you’re a young child. You’ll keep learning up to the point at which you leave school when you leave the state-endorsed system of education, and you’ll be given the freedom to choose your own educational path. But the truth is that you can, in fact, begin leveraging educational opportunities when you’re still in school. For instance, focusing your energies on science and technology subjects, as well as math and English, will help you to develop all of the most important skills for a career in engineering.
Meanwhile, you may also be exposed to exciting educational opportunities at your school that technically fall outside of your curricular pursuits. Some might invite you to work with classmates in order to build something, competing against rival schools in order to build structures. Other projects may emerge that encourage you to think like an engineer, working on exciting projects that will give you your first experience of planning and executing an engineering plan. These are also opportunities worth seizing if you’re set on becoming an engineer from an early age.
Clubs and Activities
While you’re young, you’ll find activities and clubs that are both fun and educational. You’ll meet new people at these clubs, where you might be asked to build things with friends and learn practical as well as planning and collaborative skills. These clubs don’t cease to exist once you’ve finished your schooling. They just become more adult and advanced. If you’re interested in developing skills while also making friends and having fun, these clubs are often the best way to edge towards a career in engineering, even if you’re currently in a completely different career.
You’ll find that there are dozens of clubs in your area, with many of them directly relevant to an engineering career. There will be builders, planners, and activist groups that are all concerned with structures, design, and the ways in which cities are built to work for people. While you’ll rarely receive a qualification or certification from these clubs, it’s a great entry point into the world of lingering and can often be your first taste of what life might be like if you were to pursue a career in engineering.
Books and Podcasts
You can learn a great deal from books and podcasts, and that’s certainly the case for engineers. While some are more engaging than others, these documents are informative and entertaining, helping you to get a real flavor of life inside the world of engineering. If you’re simply curious about the field and you’re interested in what it involves, try to find a personal account of life as an engineer. If you’re already considering leaping into the field with a degree program, you should instead look for textbooks and introductory podcasts that will give you the bare-bones information that’ll help you perform better in your studies.
As well as books and podcasts, you’ll also find a range of educational materials that are freely accessible online. There will be PDFs and academic reports on all aspects of engineering, as well as YouTube videos and tutorials that’ll introduce you to the software tools and the processes involved in engineering. Always be open to consulting these documents in order to help advance your understanding of engineering, coming to terms with demands and the challenges of the industry at large.
If you’re convinced that a career in engineering is for you, you’ll know that an important step is to get yourself qualified via an accredited institution. It might take three years or more to achieve these qualifications, but they’re your most important educational opportunities if you’re looking to start a career in engineering. As such, deciding on which degree you undertake and where you might undertake it are important factors in how you’ll leverage this opportunity. You should always consider:
- Where the institution is, and whether you’d prefer to study on the campus an in-person or from home via online classes
- The status of the institutions that you’re applying for, given that different universities and colleges tend to have differing reputations that might impact your career
- Which modules are offered at the institutions you’re considering, as the module structure of your course will have a direct effect on the kinds of skills and experience you can bring to bear in your career
While these considerations are important for your career, any decision that you make will ultimately lead you towards a certification that’ll make you eligible for exciting entry-level opportunities at the best engineering firms in the world. Study a masters in engineering management online in order to make the most of educational opportunities while also remaining at home and in your current job. That’s how you’ll be able to best leverage learning for the progression of your career.
Mentors and Tutors
Whether you’re studying or you’re working in your first job role, you should always look out for a mentor or a tutor who might be able to take you under their wing, giving you bespoke and experienced advice on how to progress your career. These are invaluable people to have in your early career, as they’ll show you all the tricks of the trade that they might have taken years of trial and error in order to pick up. The best tutors at your college or university will be those who are keen and willing to work with ambitious students, while the best mentors will be motivated to pass on their wisdom to the next generation of engineers.
If you’re struggling to find a mentor or a tutor, you should talk to a line manager or a course leader. Ask them if there are any opportunities to partner with an individual who can help you progress your career or learn on the job. They’ll cast around for names and will put you in touch with the people they believe are most likely to be able to offer you a little of their time. If you never ask for these opportunities to learn and to progress, you may never be able to leverage them in your career. Tutors and mentors don’t necessarily fall into your lap; you need to work in order to find and secure them as educational career guides.
As well as leveraging individuals as tutors or mentors, you should also strive to develop a network in the engineering space in order to build out contacts who might be able to provide you with educational opportunities throughout your career. These can range from thought leaders who share interesting case studies on LinkedIn all the way through to people you’ll contact with specific questions or issues that you know they can resolve.
Establishing a network takes time and patience, and it’s always a work in progress. You’ll want to connect with people you meet at university or college and those throughout the hierarchy of your firm. You could connect to eminent strangers on social media platforms, too, in order to follow their careers and ask for their advice. Networking is a skill that can help in any career. In engineering, which is project-based and highly competitive, having people in your corner who know and appreciate your work can be decisive in your overall career.
We’ve already run through the educational opportunities represented by courses at universities, but there are also a huge range of shorter courses that you can take online. These might equate to the one module of a university course and will often offer you a certificate that proves that you’ve gained new skills and knowledge in a certain area of engineering. Find these courses by searching Google for online academies or by asking your network about the best courses for your specific field of engineering.
While short courses can help you to pick up new skills and learn how to leverage new tools, they can often be the decisive factor in whether you’re offered more senior roles in engineering. Some vacancies will require you to have experience using certain software or working with certain problems. By taking a short course, you’ll show you’re committed to meeting eligibility criteria set by employers. And, of course, you’ll make yourself a more well-rounded and attractive candidate for all future roles that you may find yourself applying for.
There’s a third way to learn via institutions, and that’s by attending night classes as an extension of your working day. This option often suits those who are working in a full-time job, whether inside or outside of the engineering space. By carving out a couple of evenings a week for study, you’ll quickly find yourself picking up new skills that you can bring to bear in a career in engineering. Choose these courses wisely, as you’ll have to pay for them and some will be more useful and informative than others.
A great way to find appropriate courses is to check engineering forums and websites for advertised opportunities. With the stamp of approval from an established name in the engineering space, you can be confident that these courses are going to help you become a more attractive candidate to employers. If you’re in doubt, consider contacting the course leader for a short conversation about the contents of the classes, the level of ability you should be bringing to them, and what you’ll come out of the course with – whether that’s a new qualification or a better understanding of what it takes to be an engineer.
When you secure your first job in engineering, you’ll be ramped onto a steep learning curve where you finally put into practice all that you’ve learned. This is an exciting process and one that’ll see you picking up many new skills. It’s also challenging, as you’ll be expected to learn on the job about all of the different aspects of working in an engineering team. You may need support and advice, which you can get from managers and mentors. You may also need training, which most engineering firms are happy to provide to new recruits as well as old hands.
Requesting training doesn’t make you out to be incompetent. For from it, such a request shows that you’re truly motivated to work hard and efficiently in your role. Talk to colleagues to see what kinds of training are offered by your firm and to learn whether your firm offers paid days off in order to study and pick up new skills in your own time. Training opportunities see you paid to learn – and an excellent way to leverage education for your engineering career.
It’ll not take long for you to establish yourself in the field of engineering. After a handful of years, you’ll find that you’re knowledgeable and comfortable in your role and that you’re able to pivot to a variety of different tasks with ease. It’s at this moment that you may well become eligible to be a new recruit’s mentor, which helps you hand in some of the education you’ve enjoyed in your career to date.
Not only does this nicely close the loop on your engineering education, but it gives you an opportunity to build relationships with younger employees who may well have different and exciting perspectives on the work you’ve been doing for years. Teaching is also a learning experience and one that can be leveraged to make you a better engineer in the middle and latter parts of your career.
Make use of all of the educational opportunities outlined above in order to progress rapidly in your career as an engineer.
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