Ten years ago, I began my fascination with running. Who would have thought that my passion would be long-distance running? My very first race was a 5K and I thought it was such an extremely long distance. As I advanced, the races kept getting longer and I realized that I did not enjoy the 5K/10K distance any more. They were much too short-lived for my taste. I started running half/full marathons and found them to be much more challenging and invigorating. I decided to try trail running and fell in love with the open freedom of the environment and the feeling of isolation on the trail. I discovered this was my true calling in running.
When planning your engineering future, you will be offered many paths to take, but must decide which direction to go in order to arrive at the career that is best for you. I did not wake up one morning and decide, “I am going to be a Material Science Engineer, and work for an aerospace company as the QA & Tech Manager”. I placed a lot of thought into which direction I wanted to proceed in my career. Through this wisdom I have identified a few pointers that can help you decided what path may be best to follow.
What Interest You: This is a very important part of deciding your career direction for the future. You do not want to end up in a job that you dread going to. Try asking yourself the question, “What job would you do for free?”
Look at your Strengths: As humans we tend to enjoy things that we are good at. If you are having difficulty deciding which area to focus on for your career, look at your skills and pick what you do best.
Ask People about their Career: When you meet a person who already works in a position you think will fit your personality, talk to them about it. It is amazing what you can learn.
Internships: I originally started out as a Mechanical Engineering student and was able to get an internship at a manufacturing facility. I learned very quickly that I would not enjoy being a Mechanical Engineer. As luck would have it, I met a Materials Engineer during that internship and struck up a conversation about what they enjoyed about their job. (Ask People about their Career!) From that conversation, I determined Material Science Engineering would be a great fit for me.
Mentors: These very important individuals can help you determine what path would be correct for you. Discuss your weaknesses and strengths with your mentors. Their knowledge and guidance can assist you with your career path decisions.
You will never be stuck in a career you hate, if you remember, you are always able to take a different path and change direction to achieve happiness in your career.