How to build a career in engineering

Advice for a fresh graduate of engineering on how to build a career?


Find another profession- one which offers a higher reward to risk ratio than engineering. That will likely require more education.

Barring that: it’s too late for you to go to a good school if you didn’t, so that’s off the table. Your only hope is to work hard at finding the best jobs, then work hard at doing those jobs AND at building your skills through continual learning and development. If you want to go into management, get some training in the type of management you want to do, but wait a bit- get it after you’ve worked for a while. If you want to go to the dark side, get an MBA and kiss the respect of the rest of your engineering colleagues goodbye forever afterward…

A few other golden nuggets of advice, worth exactly what you’ve paid me to offer them:

  • don’t work for free- it devalues your services and those of your colleagues and peers, and rarely buys you the respect of your boss or employer that you think it might
  • even if you are paid for overtime etc., don’t work too much of it. Workaholism is a disease and results in a shattered life. People with shattered lives rarely make up for it with satisfying careers
  • don’t be afraid to jump to a new job or even a new industry rather than clinging to the manufacture of buggy whips or leaded gasoline after they’re out of fashion
  • if you don’t love engineering, get out. Life’s too short and you work too much of your life to be a slave to it, and there’s a crowd of people who do love engineering waiting to take your place when you go

Good luck.