To the Rookie Engineer: Tips for Success at Your First ‘Real’ Job

Posted March 20, 2015 by
Senior and junior engineers discussing work together in office, senior man pointing at screen

Senior and junior engineers discussing work together in office, senior man pointing at screen. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You’ve landed your first professional engineering job, and with dress shirt on and sleeves rolled up, you are ready to impress. Of course, everyone knows you’re the rookie — especially you — and you don’t want to sound totally clueless. Take a breath, shake off the doubt and remember these tips.

You Are Always In School

Part of getting your first engineering job is to take the information that you learned in school and use it in a practical environment, work. There is no doubt you are there to work, but every company understands you also need to learn. When you applied for the job, you needed to brag your way to the top of the list; now you need to stay in the knowledge community, offering information when it is applicable.

To do this, read industry articles, journals, and blogs. If you are in the manufacturing industry, look at Apple Rubber’s blog. For those in the biomedical engineering field, follow the American Psychological Association’s Division 21 newsletter on engineering psychology. Whatever specialization you have, there are Web communities for you.

Play to Your Strengths

You just got out of school. Everything in your mind is fresh. Every job is a good job. There was a time when you lived and breathed nodal analysis. Tell your coworkers what you know and let them help you find your strengths. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists more than two dozen engineering-related occupations ranging in salary from the mid-30s to more than $100,000 annually. The pay range depends on your education and experience. With a range that large, it makes sense to enumerate your abilities. The flip side to that coin is to be open to learning the things that were not part of your academic experience.

Know Your Personality Type

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most common personality classifiers used in the workplace. According to the Myers-Briggs, there are four dichotomous categories:

  • Introvert and extrovert
  • Thinking and feeling
  • Judging and perceiving
  • Sensing and intuiting

By understanding these classifications, where you are within them and where a peer may be, you will be better able to communicate your needs and information. When you understand that you are an introvert who relies on his gut, his feelings and what he sees, then you can request information in a way that enables you to easily assimilate it. Learning, using and re-delivering information is the best way to impress your peers.

Don’t Fake It

If you do not know something, simply say so. Everyone knows you’re new, and there is no benefit to putting on a façade. On the contrary, pretending to know something that you clearly do not will erode trust among your coworkers and diminish respect from your boss. In the same way that you play to your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses. Supplant your deficit in knowledge with an enthusiasm to learn. That will impress everyone.

Source: SocialMonsters

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