ASCE Collaborate has switched to a new platform called Thrive.
We appreciate your patience during the transition. What is Thrive? View more information here. Any questions or feedback? Please contact [email protected]. View Video Tutorials here.
An ASCE membership login is required to participate in discussion forums and ASCE Mentor Match.
I would suggest that a young engineer join one or more professional associations relevant to your technical field and become active in them. Volunteer for technical committees. Help organize, not just attend events. Attend seminars and conferences. One way to pretty much guarantee that your employer will sponsor seminar/conference attendance is to write a paper and get it accepted. Eventually local board chairs will open up. As your career advances, state or even national board membership may be in your reach. I can't overemphasize how this approach advanced my career, and it will yours as well
A couple of pieces advice that I would offer.
Develop a strong competence in at least one sub-discipline early in your career. This gives you everlasting "street credentials" in your area of expertise and provides a fundamental skill set to fall back on over your career. Conversely, be cautious in broadening too soon, e.g., moving into project engineering. Once you go off the purely technical track it's hard to get back on. For one, there is risk of no longer being competitive if you do go back. Competence development may be less an issue for those on the PE track than those working in an industrial setting, but something to keep in mind. I for one had a great career but missed the satisfaction of being able to call myself a structural engineer, having broadened too early.
Understand and be able to articulate how you add value. This is important for reviews, your resume, and interviews. At the end of the day employers are looking for one of four metrics from you. How can you:
Being able to take what you can do, your skills and competence, or have done, your achievements, and in put in terms of 1-4 helps to answer the important "so what" or "why care" question. Obviously, 1,2 and 3 are non-starters or a stretch for someone starting out or early in their career, but 4 is fair game. Additionally, these metrics are important for articulating the value proposition for business improvement initiatives that you might propose or be responsible for implementing.
The above list was offered to me by a career development professional following my retirement while I was updating my resume and it really hit home for me. I like to think that I always had a good appreciation for how I was adding value during my career but sometimes overcomplicated the message. I would have benefited from the simplicity of the above metrics.