Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Retaining Civil Engineering Talent

    Posted 08-18-2022 04:51 PM
    Thank you to everyone who joined our Thursday @ 3 session today on retaining civil engineering talent. We had so many great questions we weren't able to get to them all so I wanted to continue the conversation here. I'm tagging our awesome panelists so they can continue the conversation. @Heidi Wallace, @Richard Morales, @Kylee Shortt.

    I'm looking forward to learning more about this interesting topic!
    •  Have you ever thought about leaving an employer and why? What has prevented you from leaving? 

    •  What is the impact of ownership structure? What are the pros and cons of different business structures? 

    • How does professional development and career paths impact an employee's length of employment? 

    • What is the role of performance reviews and promotions when trying to retain CE talent? 

    • What do you tell recruiters when they call? Do you tell them to call you back in a certain period of time or flat-out tell them no?
    ​​​​

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    Tirza Austin
    Senior Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
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  • 2.  RE: Retaining Civil Engineering Talent

    Posted 08-19-2022 09:15 AM
    Below is an overview of my thoughts on some of these excellent questions that were posed for the [email protected] this week.

    For those that don't know me, below is my career path so far
    -started an internship in 2014 in civil engineering
    -returned to that internship each winter and summer until graduation
    -started fulltime in 2016
    -earned my PE
    -was allowed to stay on (on an hourly basis) while living abroad for my Masters in 2020-2022
    -returned fulltime in spring 2022

    • Have you ever thought about leaving an employer and why? What has prevented you from leaving? 
      • I have never seriously considered leaving my employer. Does that mean it has been perfect? No, and I don't think anywhere would be. What keeps me here is that I feel that I have a valued role to play. Our leadership is open to feedback and suggestions. When I've seen things that I thought could be improved, I was given opportunities to take ownership over implementing some of those changes. I love the people I work with, and they make me look forward to being in the office. 

    •  What is the impact of ownership structure? What are the pros and cons of different business structures? 
      • At our company, we have a very flat structure. The ownership of the company is held by the Principals, and basically the only other official title (besides the C-suite) used externally is Associate. There isn't a hierarchical structure to how we typically work. A summer intern will often do  some work directly for Principals; there is no one "between" any employee and ownership that has to be relied on as a middle-man for communications.
        One of the biggest benefits is that anyone from CEO to summer intern has the ability to voice their opinions directly to leadership and be heard. Our principals have an open-door policy, and many are directly involved in projects still. The flat structure means that it is possible for employees at any level to feel that they are making a valuable contribution and be invested in the direction of the company.
        If someone's goal is to advance in official titles, then this structure isn't ideal. I will say that not having a lot of titles doesn't mean there aren't frequent raises or advancement opportunities; it's more of a fluid transition than a jump.
    • How do professional development and career paths impact an employee's length of employment? 
      • Not everyone that starts in the same position has the same goal. Some will want to stay technical, some want to move into management. Some may want a shift in area of concentration. I think it is crucial that employers are offering professional development opportunities and career path options that are tailored to each employee. In order to do so, it is important for leadership to be discussing career goals with employees. Even for two employees on the same path, they don't necessarily have the same strengths and weaknesses, so they may need to focus their training in different areas to be prepared for their next role.
        If an employee feels that their future goals aren't in line with the opportunities they are being given or the training they are receiving, they are more likely to leave.

    • What is the role of performance reviews and promotions when trying to retain CE talent? 
      • I'll skip this one since we don't have formal performance reviews and my only official promotion so far was when I got my PE

    • What do you tell recruiters when they call? Do you tell them to call you back in a certain period of time or flat-out tell them no?
      • I don't have a LinkedIn account, so I'm not on the radar of most recruiters. I don't think there is anything wrong with telling a recruiter you are happy where you are. I think if I were contacted I'd be more likely to tell them if my situation changes I'll reach out to them. I wouldn't want follow-up calls if I wasn't wanting to leave.


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    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK
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  • 3.  RE: Retaining Civil Engineering Talent

    Posted 19 days ago
    I just finished listening to this Thur​[email protected] and I wanted to thank  @Heidi Wallace@Richard Morales, and @Kylee Shortt for an amazing panel!

    I highly recommend everyone to give this roundtable a listen.

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