Engineering is a diverse profession that requires a lot from those who call it their own. In order to succeed in the field, there are a lot of different ways in which you can make yourself better and become the best engineer you can be. There are many ways to measure success, but for the purpose of this discussion let’s cover 3 key factors: financial gain, influence, and happiness. When we look into these three categories, we can begin to grasp what actions push engineers in the right direction.
When people think of success, it is most commonly in association with financial gain or pay. In order to earn more money in the engineering field, you have to stand out against the other engineers in your firm. That means being more than just able to do your job; much more. Perhaps the best way to make more money in engineering is to ignore money altogether. Focus on excelling in every aspect of engineering, whether that be improving your math skills or helping out in whatever you can. One of the biggest mistakes that an engineer can make in their early career is to think that they only need to focus on improving their engineering skills. Being a good engineer means being able to communicate, being good at business, and much more. Just because you have a heightened sense of technical skills doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of the work world.
Let’s dig deeper into what earns engineers money. Rarely does an engineer earn more if they make themselves scarce and unavailable. By no means should you overwork yourself, but maybe try to expand that introverted bubble you live in to other projects. While financial gain is typically the focus of many, it generally follows when engineers focus on other things, like improving their technical skills or increasing their value to the company.
Some people may be satisfied with a high salary, but others want influence and power. If you want to be running your own engineering firm one day, or even make it to the upper rings of the company you currently work at, pay attention. To reach success in influence, you have to be willing to think outside of the box. This means being flexible in your career path and willing to lead or step back when needed. Being promoted within a company is certainly possible, and having the drive to reach this goal earns you a lot of respect among those who work there. However, don’t get held back in your career just because your company isn’t promoting. Don’t be afraid to seek out places where you are more valued, or even go off on your own. Nobody ever said your engineering success had to be driven by someone else’s hand. The most influential engineers, Archimedes, Bernoulli, Eiffel, Fleming, all thought outside of the box and created things no one else ever had.
Engineering is like many careers, except to be a good engineer, you need to be good at every other aspect of business.
While few empirically measure success by happiness, it is arguably the most important basis to measure from. Without happiness, all other forms of success are meaningless. Getting stuck in a realm of engineering that brings you no happiness in life is easy to do. The key to finding happiness in your work is to find your engineering passion and chase it. For example, if you are a mechanical engineer and you particularly enjoy additive manufacturing, then chase that industry. Find what problem-solving avenue fulfills you through work and pursue it. When an engineer, or any worker for that matter, chase their passion, the other 2 forms of success are bound to follow. Finding yourself working daily in something you love makes it that much easier to become a good leader in your field.
Let’s boil down all of the keys to success. Think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving and career options. Learn how to effectively communicate both your technical ideas and your business ideas. And finally, find your passion and pursue it. The path to success in engineering takes a lot of work, so get out there and get going!