Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Jobs to prepare for engineering

    Posted 06-20-2019 03:36 PM
    Hello fellow engineers! I am a current civil engineering student and am going to specialize in environmental engineering. Within that field I want to do design and project management.  I was wondering what jobs besides internships I could work at to prepare for my career? I am a first year engineer student so it will be some time before I can apply to internships. 
    Brant Smith S.M.ASCE
    Civil engineering student at UmKc
    Blue Springs MO

  • 2.  RE: Jobs to prepare for engineering

    Posted 06-21-2019 10:10 AM
    Hi Brant,

    Great job on reaching out now in the industry to help guide your schooling and career path!

    I have thoughts based on my experience. I am sure others will have different thoughts based on their experiences.

    If you are looking to go into design and project management, I would suggest first looking into consulting. Typically you can find both design and project management in a consulting role. However, the key for you is to understand that to become a full fledged project manager, that may take time. To help work at becoming that project manager, you should look at all of your tasks as if you are the project manager of those task. By getting the skills and experiences to complete successful tasks, you will be put in a position for larger task management that will eventually lead to full project management. Another thing to keep in mind is that full project management may take time so try to look at obtaining that level as running a marathon and not a sprint.

    For design work, this depends on the specialization you plan to go into. If you plan to go into a niche field, you may need to obtain a masters or doctorate to do more design work. If your specialization is non-niche, then you may be able to do more design work with a bachelors degree. To figure out your true specialization, I suggest working as many internships and co-ops as you can across various concentrations of environmental engineering. What you might think you want to specialize in may change after you do the work.

    Best of luck with school and your future career!

    Kenneth Mika, PE M.ASCE

    (920) 393-8484
    Green Bay, WI

  • 3.  RE: Jobs to prepare for engineering

    Posted 06-22-2019 04:26 PM
    Hi Brant,

    Great question! While I was an undergrad, I asked some of my professors if they needed any research assistants during the summer. The summer after my sophomore year, when I was just barely getting into my engineering curriculum, I worked out at one of the research labs. I was primarily just an errand-runner, but it gave me an opportunity to work with PhD students and gave me exposure to different aspects of research. Later on, I worked for another professor and had the opportunity to help collect data, and help work on reports - which proved to be a really great experience.

    I would also suggest that you might look for jobs that are completely unrelated to engineering since you mentioned that you cannot yet apply for an internship. For example, if you are able to work in a managerial position in a restaurant or retail establishment, that could help you develop general managerial skills. Or, working as a camp counselor might help you develop good leadership skills.

    Ultimately, whatever job you take at the moment, I recommend you practice good work ethic. Have a good attitude and be willing to do whatever is needed. Bosses notice that kind of attitude and it can help you develop some great references for when it comes time to apply for an internship. 

    I'm not as familiar with the environmental field, but one other suggestion I would make is seeking out a job that gives you field experience. For example, I have colleagues who worked construction jobs or surveying jobs when they were younger. Even if you want to be designing plans later, understanding how things operate in the field would certainly come in handy!

    Best wishes in your future career endeavors!!

    Kelly Farabee P.E.,M.ASCE
    Savannah GA

  • 4.  RE: Jobs to prepare for engineering

    Posted 06-30-2019 09:56 PM
    Great question!

    I'm not an environmental engineer, but I worked for an environmental firm my first summer in college as an asbestos inspector. They sent me to a two-day course, I took a certification test, and then spent most of the rest of the summer looking for asbestos in buildings to be renovated, and getting samples for testing. I believe the certification is similar for lead abatement/inspection, so that may be an idea.

    If you've had any CAD or drafting-related classes, first-year students can sometimes get internships doing those sorts of things for a consulting-type firm.

    You may want to also consider volunteering for something related to environmental engineering. There are many environmentally-based non-profits, and depending on what area of environmental you are going into, getting some knowledge of that side (which often includes basic understanding public policy) would be helpful to you down the road.

    Stephanie Slocum P.E.,M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC