If you're early in your career as a civil engineer, then you're in one of the most exhilarating yet intimidating parts of your professional journey. Are you struggling to decide where to start? If so, then keep reading. These 6 tips can help you make the initial steps in your path a civil engineering career.
1) Do Your Homework:
Civil engineering is a wild field, and if you graduated recently or are still studying, then it can be really tough knowing which area you should pursue. When doing your research, be sure to use any resource that is available to you. Your educational institution, in particular, its career services and alumni, can be of tremendous value to you. At this point, the more you can learn about the many fields in the broader discipline of civil engineering, the better you're going to be.
2) Get Experience:
In the early chapters of your career, do what you can to get experience. Not only will it help you fill your resume, but it can also help you learn about the various areas in civil engineering. Test the waters by looking for work experiences, even if they're volunteer opportunities. It's not unheard of for civil engineers to go overseas to volunteer. The primary consideration is here is that as long as you're getting experience in numerous areas, you're using your time wisely. You'll never look back in time you put into learning new things and regret it. In fact, you might regret passing up on chances to learn more than you did.
3) Network to Find Mentors:
Mentors can be quite a few different people. It could be a lecturer. It could be someone who is an alumnus of your university. It might be a family member or a colleague. Whoever that person is, don't fear asking them questions about areas they have experience in. Learn the benefits and drawbacks of any disciplines or roles they've worked in. While their information and insight might be purely anecdotal, it can still be valuable to you in terms of painting a picture of any areas you might have interest in.
Also, keep networking, always. You'll need connections to land work, but also, it's better to have two mentors than one. If you can land three, you're in great shape. Learning from many mentors is very useful early in your career so you can pick up insights from their own experiences. Also, given the online nature of the modern world, don't fear to reach out to potential mentors in specific areas of interest through social media channels. They might be busy, but many are willing to accommodate requests for information and advice, given how it makes them look better professionally. The worst they can do is say no.
4) Cast a Wide Net:
It may not be that easy to get your foot into any door, and while it's good to take time to figure out what kind of role you want, keep in mind that you're competing with a lot of other new professionals for any positions that give them experience and put them on a career ladder. Flexibility in your approach might prove useful, be it the region or discipline you're willing to wind up working in. The ability to relocate might open up many experiences and opportunities.
5) Don't Lock in Too Early:
While you want to figure out what discipline you want to eventually focus on, don't commit to one too early. Active pursuit of a range of projects gives you experience and skills, increasing your odds of winding up in something that you really enjoy later.
6) Keep Developing and Learning:
An education in civil engineering can get you started, but all industries grow and change. Keeping going to lectures, events, and conferences, and keep up with industry publications and websites. Stay on top of things so that even deep into your career you can learn and do the things the latest graduates and job candidates can do. Being able to master the new things might make you an industry authority and expert, possibly even leading to consulting and training work later on.
If you need more advice, AndersElite has some good tips on a career like this.