Discussion Thread

Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

  • 1.  Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 07-20-2021 08:22 AM

    Recently I have begun to feel more confident in my designs and engineering capabilities.
    I mentioned to my mentor the other week that I started answering emails and talking to clients over the phone more often. Additionally, I have started going alone to site visits and found myself able to respond to questions by the individuals on site. 

    I mentioned this to my mentor and he said "Yes, this is normal. The activities you describe shows signs of progress in your professional career."

     I'm curious if other younger engineers or managers have seen this type of growth in their themselves or their own engineers.

    What are indicators that you're progressing in your career?

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 2.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 07-27-2021 09:52 AM
    Interesting topic @Daniel Bressler!

    For me at my job, an indicator that you are performing well at work is where your work assignments are coming from. Obviously, a majority of your assignments most likely comes from your immediate supervisor or manager. Over time, your supervisor or manager gets a feel for how you complete your assignments and gains trust in your work.

    Where I work, supervisors have management only meetings to discuss upcoming projects, new responsibilities, and ways to improve the organizations workflow. So when some new project comes up, or a new role need to be filled, my supervisor can suggest that I handle some of these assignments, as they have worked with me long enough to trust my work, and know that I can handle that task. Then I get to work with new people, learn some new things, and become a resource in the future for these people. So when a similar task comes up, or a task that requires a similar skillset, they know someone who can handle that work. Just like working with your supervisor and gaining their trust over time with the quality of your work, these other coworkers will also get to see your work and you will hopefully gain their trust over time as well.

    Another way I get assignments from someone other than my supervisor is by supporting other teams at work. You get a phone call or an email from someone asking for some information related to your job responsibilities from a coworker, and they usually need the information ASAP. If you are able to provide the needed information accurately and quickly, that coworker now knows you can be a resource for them in the future. Maybe they include you earlier on in the next project, as they respect your knowledge on the subject.

    To summarize, ​if you are getting work assignments from people other than those in your team, you are most likely progressing in your career, as more people are trusting you with their work. This is a reflection of your work performance, so be proud (and not frustrated) when you get a work assignment from outside your team, and put the same effort into that task that you would for your "normal" tasks inside of your team. This will let people know in your organization that you are motivated, competent, and will get the task done in a timely manner. Every organization always wants more of those individuals, and its a great way to network with people in your organization that you may not otherwise get to experience.

    Doug Cantrell P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Durham NC

  • 3.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 07-28-2021 08:11 AM
    Greetings Engr. Daniel,

    Thank you for that, like what you have said, that's also I observe with the employees in a consultant engineering company, and as I done my internship there, I personally develop my communication skills with related to the work and understand how to convey a message to a professional whose very busy.  And it's my pleasure to understand their struggles and be ready to share my opinions to employees in the administration people, to communicate the ideas as an intern and help them assist their projects either it's major or a minor you can learn a lot from it as you overlooked how they done it. And I think the indicators beside what you already mentioned is that you can learned on your own, you can study a certain problem and subject on your own, you finished the project without a senior supervising it (you are done for being a junior), you do your own appointments to the clients, and you practice problem solving and you figure it on your own and the solution you present to the department head/ or CEO's approves your opinion, or suggestions. And I'm looking forward to experience those things as I admire how my seniors do it and passed their struggles and problems about the data sometimes that the clients gave them. The feeling of defensing your own project and you can answer what those people will throw. That you really playing an engineer role and used to be that professionally is really overwhelming once you are out in the field to the extent I'm very excited about it.

    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo S.M.ASCE
    City of General Trias Cavite

  • 4.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 07-29-2021 10:08 AM
    Hello Daniel,

    Great topic! I'm glad to see those indicators and I agree with your mentor in that those signs you are progressing in your career. I would like to add some other indicators:
    • When one starts managing a tema or having direct reports is another indicator of progressing in the career. Even if it is an informal report with someone that you get to work with on a daily basis and be able to delegate tasks.
    • Getting involved into more PM tasks like monitoring the budget, schedule and scope of the project is another indicator that you are transitioning from more technical tasks (if that's the path one is following)
    • Last and not least, becoming a PE to me I believe is a very strong indicator. More than the title itself, becoming a PE is a huge accomplishment for the career that opens you the door to be involved in more projects and be put in new project proposals, which allows you to keep growing
    Looking forward to see what other indicators the rest of the community has!


    Salvador Bentolila P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    New York NY

  • 5.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 08-01-2021 06:40 PM
    I think one of the indicators for me was the first time at a project meeting with an architect and developer that they asked for my opinion about design options and didn't specifically ask me to run it by the older engineer like usual. It was a small thing, but it meant that they saw me as a capable engineer.

    A similar moment happened when I was at a pre-development meeting at the city offices for a project. It was the first time I'd met the architect or worked with her, and it was her first project to manage in that city. She had also recently been named a Principal at her firm. When she asked a clarifying question to the head of Development Services he answered it and then said, "Heidi has worked on projects here recently and does a great job. She's very familiar with our processes and has relationships with our staff, so she's a great asset to have on your team." To realize that I was being seen as a professional and someone that people enjoyed working with was a huge boost to how I saw myself in my career. I had just gotten my PE a few months prior, but having him say really solidified my confidence to manage a project.

    Another one that comes to mind is when I started having the ability to delegate work to the younger EIs. When the first EI started fulltime after me, I didn't so much delegate work to him but help him with with figuring out what he'd been assigned by someone else. We were on the same projects sometimes, but I wasn't the one that gave him work. When the next EIs started fulltime I was starting to manage some projects and had the ability to delegate work to them. I really enjoy onboarding and training, so it has been nice to be able to be the one assigning them some of their work so I can use those assignments to walk them through some of the next things they're learning.

    Currently I'm writing some of our standards and guide documents for the civil department at our company. As I've been writing them it's been interesting to realize how much I've learned since I started as an intern. I've gone from knowing practically nothing as a summer intern to knowing enough to create and/or communicate standards in 6ish years, and I don't know if I'd have really stopped and thought about how much we learn in those first few years if not for these documents.

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 6.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 08-02-2021 09:13 AM
    I love all of the answers posted so far. They are all the same sentiments I would echo as well.  

    For me, there were a few ways that I began feeling more competent at work.
    - other members of my group would check in with me with technical questions about how and where our data is stored (even if they were the ones who originally taught me this information)
    - my boss or coworkers would refer people outside of our group to me with questions, and trust in my ability to communicate effectively with them
    - I began sitting in on interviews with new staff and have had coworkers request my opinion with respect to staff selection.
    - I've come up with a few ideas for workflow improvements that have been accepted by the rest of the team.
    - I've been told that I am dependable and feel that my coworkers trust me to perform my tasks and reach deadlines without close supervision. This makes me feel more comfortable with occasionally working flexible hours and days to reach a better work-life balance. 

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 7.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-03-2022 11:30 AM
    The part-time internship on campus I had for two years mostly involved weekly responsibilities and the occasional project with a co-worker. But after the pandemic first became severe, those projects stopped in favor of evolving the ways we could work and which other departments we were affiliated with. I was glad to still be working there and I can recall some of those sentiments you listed, like being trusted with performing all my tasks.

    During my last semester working there,  I took it upon myself to create projects. While I was training my successor on how to handle all the aspects of the weekly responsibility, I examined our database for over a thousand missing or incorrect data points. This was split into two projects, both of which I completed over those three and a half months left in the office in time for moving onto a new campus.

    With companies finding new ways to thrive, do you think there will be more opportunities to construct my own projects inside engineering firms? I thought it was a marker of how well I handled the internship for all this time.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 8.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-04-2022 11:41 AM
    Here are some indicators throughout my career where I felt that my career was progressing:
    -  I was able to perform the same task that I previously did, with much more efficiency, speed, and accuracy
    -  I was able to support multiple projects at a single time; this included helping others
    -  I was assigned or asked to mentor other engineers
    -  I began having more time because I got better.  Instead of waiting or trying to look busy, I asked for more to do.  More to do means more learning experiences.
    -  Upper management began asking me for my opinion, and began involving me in meetings

    Looking back on my experience through my current role, I'd say that I just did more than other Team Member's.  I sacrificed more.  Time, the willingness to sacrifice, learning, and regurgitating the learned knowledge is what created these indicators in my career thus far.

    On your last question, I would generally say that YES, companies are always looking for ways to evolve and improve.  However, my experience tells me that the direction of the team or a company is usually saved for the upper leadership in the firm/company.  Some leaders appreciate their Team Members' opinions, while others may not appreciate as much.  If this is important to you, then you should definitely ask in the interview.  It is the firm/company's culture that will dictate whether you can get involved early or later in your career.  It is also their culture that will dictate whether or not they will appreciate these "side projects."

    Jefferson Thao P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineering Manager
    McClone Construction Company
    Thornton CO

  • 9.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-10-2022 09:34 AM
    Thats awesome Alex! To answer your question, I think it depends on the type of company you work for, and how they view added value. Also, what kind of budget they have and how quickly they need to handle deadlines. 

    For example, in my role, I work on two different contracts that my company has with a particular client. One of the contracts has deadlines that are usually measured in months or years. The nature of work for this contract leaves a lot of flexibility in our schedules quite often to improve our existing workflows and to develop better tools for the client to use to interact with and manage their data. 

    On the other hand, the other contract I work on has monthly deadlines, and our current staff that meets the budget for this project is just enough to meet deadlines every month. I had an idea for how to improve the efficiency of this task, and was eventually able to get a new tool built - but it took some conversations with the client at the end of last year's contract when they had extra money available in order to get permission to carry out this work with another staff member. 

    I hope you will be able to find a company to work for that meets your goals of creating your own added value. This is absolutely something you can ask about during the interview process.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 10.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-10-2022 01:26 PM
    Hello again Christopher,

    Thank you for the insight on having room and time for implementation of ideas.

    Looking back, I see that fully identifying and implementing these self-assigned projects about the database came to fruition because I was able to realize both amidst my work hours. I had unconsciously noticed the implications of the missing data points throughout my two years and it was long into the pandemic that I completed a strategy for finding all the ones I could. I am sure in time, during a next job, I will eventually get a full strategy for improving upon the past methods myself again.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 11.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-09-2022 07:46 PM

    "on critical thinking"

    Hi Daniel, thank you very much for posting that question. For structural designers, I think it starts when they consider  exploring more complex & unusual structural shapes than used before. The use of non-ordinary geometries makes you wonder why some structures existed in the past have been abandoned by some general current practices today. Now it can be very different, or yet.. why not something you imagine isn't existing in the present!? It is something when you ask why this happens… and "soon understand the constructive limitations of each era."

    Now a days, the use of arched structures have been sometimes complicated, but less than can be in the future times! Some reasons of why its usage has been currently limited in some parts of the world comes with the fact of recent introduction of flat & plain usage of prestressed concrete technology (in modern days). It was really a great improve for some sort of buildings, possible in bigger structures (places). But the world is changing again! Now with COVID-19 pandemic, people are recommended to stay safe at singular places sometimes! And there is a reason and a effort to try to avoid it (people), avoidance for bigger places. Because of this, there will be room for small structures next years (planet growing).

    Philosophy enters in his career when he begins to reflect on the Art, the Social Aspect exercised in society. The Structural Art disciplines have been redesigned in a different version from the traditional engineering curriculum, which are often a theoretical extent in common Universities. Art leads to building systems and constructions by prototypes and evolving from intuitive models based on experience too, and what works by evolution.  New buildings have been required to improve people lives, places and the planet, so the 3rd dimension can enter: e.g., the politics (ASCE Advocacy to achieve the IIJA act).

    Although it's not uncommon to see today, the emergence of some "structural prestressed precast concrete arches" in some high-level structures industries, that are reshaping futures times with combination of its pure and complex forms with new advances in concrete technology. Steel material is also a thing to have in mind while design structures, its the structural concrete which has the highest price $$$, and product that have the most embodied carbon content (kgCO2) in its composition, when contrasted with concrete. Its essential to have in mind those concepts if you live in a underdeveloped country, where the everyday works are primarily done first by rules of economic dimension, which I might not want, which is the reason for so many potential structures have been sadly discontinued over time, because sometimes, even a higher cost to maintenance will be necessary.

    The essence of future times brings innovation. It's the present and the past sufficiently to predict the future? So Engineering career must come with revolutions or understating what is possible to decipher to the future. A.I and Automation are advancing and can play a significant role to facilitate the experimental task of ours structures, while reserving the structural engineering the capacity for critical think and be valued as a essential professional member (recognition). I know their best skills can achieve so far advanced creations, that serves better for humanity.



     "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
    ― Carl Gustav Jung

    Andre Newinski S.E., A.M.ASCE
    Engenheiro Estrutural
    Santo Angelo

  • 12.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 01-13-2022 08:48 AM

    You make a great point!
    I have experienced that I have recently begun offering solutions using non-traditional methods of connections (such as using plates or angles to reinforce members as needed). 
    I most certainly wouldn't have thought nor suggested these 2 years or even a year ago!
    I believe @Christopher Seigel said a similar point, that as one's career progresses they get more comfortable with the elements they are designing and thus become more creative in their solutions. ​

    Thank you for sharing, 

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 13.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 02-20-2022 07:31 PM
    That first unscheduled meeting when your supervisor comes to get you to attend with them or you take that first trip to the client's headquarters.

    That progression from attending meetings with the internal stakeholders to those meetings with external stakeholder management, especially the technical subject matter experts (SMEs) or technical authorities. I used to watch the supervisor gather folks for some urgent meetings and think, "Wow, they must be working on something critical." Their body language always appeared to be saying, "My work is important!".  Of course, the first time I was grabbed for an unscheduled meeting, I am betting that my stomach was in my shoes.

    In any industry where maintaining client confidence is of the utmost importance, I viewed the big meetings away from the office and filling out travel request as a vote of the company's confidence. The actions of my colleagues, supervisors and managers have always been decent indicators; especially when they come to you or call you into the office for your opinion. 

    I remember feeling pretty good when asked to perform a peer review. Of course, the sit down with the engineer whose work I reviewed did not go as well. I remember him feeding me a line about "When you have been here long enough, this is understood; you do not need to write that down!" 

    I can point to one of the first images (long bar subject to axial force) I remember from my class in mechanics of materials as an indicator of true progress; the image denoting change in length and stress-strain relationship. If one ever gets to the point where they are simply comfortable (professionally) from day-to-day, it may be time for a change. Strain = change in length/original length. Growth is typically accompanied by both stress and strain.  When supported and managed well, more responsibilities, crazy deadlines, and projects where your support is critical can aid in one's professional growth.

    James Williams P.E., M.ASCE
    POA&M Structural Engineering, PLC
    Yorktown, VA

  • 14.  RE: Indicators you're Progressing in your Career

    Posted 02-23-2022 10:23 AM
    Great point James!

    I appreciate how referenced Mechanics of Materials as an example. Growth is most definitely accompanied by both stress and strain.

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY