Engineering as a subject and as an occupation is a very satisfying branch of science. Look around you and you will find marvels of engineering everywhere. The smart devices you use today that are million times more powerful than the computing power NASA had when they sent the first man to the moon. Every aspect of your life is made easier by all these brilliant feats of engineering. But engineers are not done yet, there are many more wonders on the horizon like autonomous cars, 3D printing, a colony on Mars, CRISPR gene editing and millions more, just waiting to be engineered.
If you are an engineering student or a recent graduate holding a newly signed diploma, it is important for you to understand how to launch a successful career building the future tech. Taking on challenges of the future will be a lot tougher than just passing an FE mechanical exam. Here are our top 10 tips that will help you to make a successful engineering career in any field.
Pick meaningful problems
As an engineer, it is your responsibility to make the world a better place by solving challenges, pick the ones you are passionate about so that your inner spark never dies. If you yearn to fix something that’s broken, do it.
Work harder than hard
To quote the words of Thomas Edison, “Genius is two percent inspiration, ninety-eight percent perspiration.” You might have sweat in school trying to get that engineering diploma but the working world is a lot worse. For any technology to have mass adoption it is necessary that it be a simple and reliable solution to a complicated problem. Building complex or fragile products are just mediocre engineering and you can definitely do better.
Join an outstanding team
Teamwork is an integral component of most engineering marvels from Apple to Google, it is often seen that engineers reach their full potential when they are part of a team where their talents are best complimented and teammates challenge them. Your focus in a team is to achieve the end goal with your best efforts without worrying over who gets the credit.
Become the best storyteller
You will be surprised to know how many new products fail because of insufficient end-user attention even after having cool tech behind them. Building a better solution is necessary but not sufficient. Understand the end users’ pain and design products accordingly, but also work on making them aware of your solution.
If you plan to lead people or an industry someday, you are going to need undying optimism. Ask any engineer who has ever achieved a feat of marvel, he will tell you how much pessimism and doubts he had to face to make his way through. Remember that people are always wary of the unknown, a solution that does not exist will face opposition from all directions. But if you have cultivated optimism in your very soul, nothing will stop you.
Optimism is necessary but it will be futile without a grasp on reality. When working on an idea it is easy to lose grip on reality but while you are focused on the long-term vision remain grounded in what has to be fixed right now.
Trust your instincts
If reality gives you hard times, close your eyes and trust your instincts. During your career as an engineer, you will come across situations when you will have to make a decision based on incomplete information. Such instances will require your intellect and ability to follow your guts.
Experts of the industry will continue to keep getting it wrong. Be aware of the fact that engineering changes industries rapidly. There was a time when Google had zero earnings from advertising revenue, when Facebook never existed, when Apple was about to die. The state of flux in the industry is because of the pace of innovation, this keeps the future uncertain. As an engineer, you have to identify opportunities in uncertainty.
You are participating in a marathon, not a sprint
As an engineer, you will be working with tech and there will be junctures in your life when you will get tired of all the engineering. To avoid this, you will have to learn to work sustainably. To avoid feeling burned out you will have to rejuvenate by making time for family, friends and things you love.
Engineering is not boring – if you are continuously struggling to enjoy yourself you need to make a change. You will be a much better engineer if you find pleasure in it, so don’t forgot to have fun when you work.
There never has been a better time for engineers to participate in improving the lives of people and benefit mankind. You are an engineer, and the world is yours to change.