Discussion Thread

  • 1.  New Grad Seeking Mentor/Wisdom

    Posted 03-20-2020 02:32 PM
    Dear Madam or Sir,

    Thank you for your time and it's an honor to reach you. I have worked hard to get to what seems like a starting point in my career and I have one question for you. I am now aiming to become a technical expert in a niche field of  civil or environmental engineering, depending on the market but definitely something in water resources. However, eventually my goal is to be a very competent project manager for heavy civil projects. My question is this:
    Should I focus my efforts, solely, on honing my expertise or need these two goals be exclusive?

    Current options(theoretical):
    1. Gain a position with a company that specializes in heavy civil and work for a couple years before choosing a grad program in environmental and water resources engineering.
    2. Gain a position with a firm specializing in water resources  and work for a couple years before choosing a grad program in engineering management.

    My gut tells me option 2 is better for me because:
    1. The technical market moves very rapidly and these skills are kept sharp by being immersed in the industry.
    2. Engineering management seems like a slower moving target and thus learning these skills at night school or online is logical.

    It may seem to some  that I have already made up my mind but nothing could be further from the truth. I simply wanted you to know that I have put a lot of thought into this question. i.e. I have not simply bumbled on to it.

    I would really appreciate any feedback that you could offer.

    Also, I am looking for a mentor. If you are interested, I would love to hear from you.

    Carl Humphrey S.M.ASCE
    (805) 982-0189

  • 2.  RE: New Grad Seeking Mentor/Wisdom

    Posted 03-21-2020 09:58 AM


    Congratulations on your accomplishments so far.  You have some very ambitious goals, and gaining both engineering experience and looking for a mentor are guides for the path you seek.  

    Regarding the next steps, my personal recommendation would be to focus on the technical expertise first, since engineering management (at least project management) is typically learned "on the fly" during the gaining of technical skills.  Sure, there are items for VP-level managers that may benefit from graduate-level education, but I know several VP-level managers with only a BS degree.  

    Regarding mentorship, ASCE has a program for this specifically - https://collaborate.asce.org/mentoring/home  I am a mentor there for geotechnical engineering.  If you are looking for a starting point as a recent graduate, I could potentially assist you in general engineering and project management.  The resource could also connect you with a more water resources focused professional since that is your desired field.  

    Best of luck!

    Joseph M. Rozmiarek, PE, M.ASCE

    Joseph M. Rozmiarek, P. E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer
    Roseville, MN

  • 3.  RE: New Grad Seeking Mentor/Wisdom

    Posted 07-09-2020 01:08 PM

    "Life By Design™."


    Hi Carl.
    Just reading your original post tells me that you value the preparation and
    planning, design, and construction of your "Life By Design™."

    The statement Joseph made, "since engineering management (at least project management) is typically learned "on the fly" during the gaining of technical skills" may have been intended as a "Funny Sarcasm!"

    For a professional, nothing could be further from the truth.

    If one summarized the categories of what we need to master, it could be captured by:

                               People . . .Process . . . Technology . . ..Leadership.

    Of these four categories, given your studies and experiences with technology in university and at

    work, most times it goes smoothly.

    However, given our universities in engineering programs give little to no formal education and training to help us learn "how to play nice with people," the lack of skill here becomes the major "anchor" for success.


    1. Join pmi.org

    Once in, locate your local section, volunteer for a committee.

    Search the pmi.org website to review some of their technical and managerial materials.

    Consider starting a PM Group at work to learn more on group dynamics and study relevant materials.

    Perhaps suggest your local ASCE chapter to form such a learning group as well.

    1. If like most normal people you find speaking in public a challenge, locate and join a "Toastmasters"


    Stay Healthy!



    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 4.  RE: New Grad Seeking Mentor/Wisdom

    Posted 07-10-2020 11:51 AM
    Hi again Carl.
    To make your choices to grow professionally and personally more focused,
    I have listed more specifics as to reliable sources:

    ASQ.org     https://asq.org/
    • Special Community: Design and Construction Division We are a Division of the American Society for Quality dedicated to enhancing the quality of design and construction projects.

    PMI.org     https://www.pmi.org/

    • Project Management for Beginners Online Course
      Made available for free for the first time ever, Project Management for Beginners is an introductory course which provides the foundational knowledge necessary to join a project team and can serve as the first step on the path to a project management career.


    Toastmasters International [1] . . .  https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club

    • The #1 fear of most people is not death, loss of job, getting fired.

    It's the sudden, paralyzing fear of standing up in front of people to make a presentation.

    This fear is perfectly normal for over 87% of us. And those still in the grip of this fear include leaders in our and other professions in engineering, science, education, etc.

    • Locate a club near you, join, and commit to becoming a comfortable professional in verbal communications to any audience.

    Stay Healthy!
    p.s. Consider passing these sources to others. 

    [1] https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 5.  RE: New Grad Seeking Mentor/Wisdom

    Posted 07-11-2020 06:40 PM
    Hey Carl,  Sounds like you have a good idea as to where you want to go.  That is a great start, but I would caution against getting tunnel vision, unless you are one of those fortunate few that just absolutely knows that they know what they want to do in their professional career.  Obviously, I don't know what your strengths and weakness are and we all have both.  However, unless you have already had some project management experience, you may very well find that project management is not exactly what you thought it would be.  You may also find that certain fields that you never thought you had an interest in becomes your focus.  I am a personal testimony to that fact.  While a sophomore  college, I was required to tour a wastewater treatment plant.  Let's just say that it went from not being on my list of things I wanted to do, to being on my list of things I absolutely did not want to do.  After graduating, I went to work with a small engineering firm and began designing residential and commercial water distribution, sanitary sewer, and storm drainage systems for them.  That experience allowed me to accept a job offer with a municipality serving approx. 250,000 first as an engineer and project manager for their water supply and wastewater collection and treatment capital projects.  I ultimately went into the operations/management side of the water/wastewater systems.  Twelve years later, I became the director of same and in January of this year I retired after  8 years as the city's Public Works Director with approximately 500 employees, handling all things water, sewer, stormwater, streets, traffic control, and greenspaces.
    The point here is you never know where opportunities will lead or how your interests will change.  My best advise to you is to relax and not sweat the career details at this stage.  Opportunities are frequently a result of the personal relationships that you build over time.  Therefore, I would also suggest that you find a state level professional organization to be active in.  Obviously, ASCE is an excellent professional organization.  However, state level professional organizations tend to lend themselves a little easier toward the development of these personal relationships for younger professionals.  It will be these relationships that will maximize your career opportunities. 
    One final thought.  The absolute worst thing anyone could do is to spend 8, 10, 12 hours or more per day working in a job they hate.  Not every day was a trip to the ice cream shop, but I enjoyed my career and have no regrets.  I sincerely hope that at the end of your working career, you can look back with the same satisfaction in whatever you pursue.  If I can be of any help, feel free to reach out.

    Best wishes in your endeavors.


    [John] [Sawyer] P.E.,M.ASCE
    [Arnge Consulting]
    Rincon GACity Of Savannah GACity Of Savannah GACity Of Savannah GACity Of Savannah GA