With young people moving towards this career according to this post from Atkins - here’s what you need to know to set yourself up for success.
- Figure out who your idols are. Having people who are already successful to look up to is a great way to keep yourself motivated and to give yourself guidance in terms of the path that you want to take with your career. Begin by looking at some of the companies that you admire the most. For instance, if you are a diehard fan of Apple, you may look up to Steve Jobs. If you think the invention of the Segway is the greatest thing to happen to humanity since the introduction of sliced bread, Dean Kamen may be someone who inspires you. Explore how these individuals achieved success so that you can take the same steps in your own life.
- Build up a portfolio. Find time in your schedule to take part in any opportunities that involve hands-on work. Having additional experience above and beyond your basic education is a great way to set yourself apart from other students. Taking part in these types of opportunities outside of the classroom is also beneficial from a learning standpoint. As you apply the principles that you have learned, they become permanently solidified in your mind, helping you gain a deeper understanding of the concepts that you are covering in class.
- Understand how building a network can benefit you. Making connections with people in the field of engineering can give you a leg up when it comes time to begin looking for a job. For instance, if there is a guest lecturer appearing on campus, go to the lecture and try to connect with the speaker after they are done. Consider building relationships with some of the alumni from the school, as well. Many of these people are interested in helping undergraduates achieve success.
While it is possible to do some networking online, you should also try to network in person. Meeting someone in person leaves a much longer lasting impression than emailing someone or connecting with them through social media.
- Work with others whenever possible. When you get hired, you most likely will have to work with a team of other people. You can prepare yourself by participating in as many group activities as possible. Joining a sports team is one option. You could also become a journalist at the newspaper for your school, join an organization that focuses on teamwork or sign-up for projects that involve working in groups. Learning how to function well as a member of a team is a skill that you can take with you into the workplace after graduation.
- Find ways to function as a leader. When you work in a group, it is a good time to practice your leadership skills. That doesn't mean that you should boss people around. Instead, you should use your influence to affect the way that other team members work with one another and to guide the decision-making process. Learning leadership skills in a variety of different situations can make you more attractive to potential employers.
- Identify your weak areas and take steps to correct them. Everyone has areas where they could improve. Through self-reflection and by soliciting feedback from people that you work with, you can identify areas where you may not be performing as well as you could be. Using the information that you gather, you can then take steps to improve. For instance, if your communication skills are lacking, you can work on learning how to communicate more effectively. This also helps you develop the ability to accept criticism, which is important as you move forward in your career.
- Consider adding a business course to your curriculum. In the field of engineering, you need to have a strong business background as well as understanding engineering concepts. This is especially true if you plan on taking on a leadership role. From learning about profit-and-loss statements to learning how to negotiate effectively, business classes can provide you with helpful skills that you can use in your career. By studying business along with engineering, you can give yourself the tools that you need to succeed, regardless of what challenges you face.