This is a guest blog by Fernando A. Ceballos, P.E.
What does getting ready for graduation, starting a new job, preparing to take your FE/PE, or picking a new hobby have in common? They all require some type of game plan to make progress and include direction of where you want things to go.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there, and sometimes that road ends up in a place you don’t want to be at.
What Is Relevant Right Now?
Don’t get lost in wanting to learn everything there is to know about everything in your career. Focus on becoming proficient at what you do now, then, as you find time, learn the next skill. There is a balance that must be found between getting ready for the next promotion and not failing to do a good job at your current role.
As an engineer, you may want to eventually take management path and therefore lose focus on the design aspect of your current role. You might fall into the trap of wanting to work on your business development skills, budget/schedule management, etc., and forget that you must learn the design fundamentals of the work you will one day manage. You might fail to realize that without a solid technical foundation, you will struggle to train your future staff.
Developing Your Game Plan
Instead of having a never-ending list of skills you have to acquire for your dream job one day, develop a list of the skills needed for the next step. Then when you reach that step, figure out the next list. I often see people experience “paralysis by analysis” and do nothing for their growth. They get overwhelmed and decide to let other people tell them what they need to learn. However, if you allow others to teach you on their schedule, you run the risk of letting mismanagement or poor training derail your career growth. When you own your plan and engage your team, you are able to determine if you are falling behind or on track.
Things To Consider
- Is it time to pivot? Pivoting is not giving up. You deserve to make a change in your life. – When does this have to be done? Ensure that you are not getting ahead of yourself. Life is not a race, and you need to be mindful that you build the right foundation to help you keep making progress.
- Who can keep me accountable? Be sure to let those you trust know that you are working toward a new goal. Having people keep you accountable will help to ensure that you are staying to your plan.
- Make sure people know the progress you have made and why it’s important to you. When it’s time to ask for a raise or promotion, you have to be able to show that you have made progress and gained new skills. These skills should be used as leverage during your employee evaluations or an interview.
Best of luck as you gain new skills and make progress on the goals you are after.
One final tip: Be sure to be as immersive as you can as you dive into new skills and hobbies.
About the Author Fernando A. Ceballos, P.E.
Fernando A. Ceballos, P.E., holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering (Texas A&M University) and works as a consultant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. His involvement in several nonprofits has helped him develop a passion for helping young professionals kick off their STEM careers. Fernando is an engineer, career coach, host of the “Dealing with Life Stuff” podcast, and speaker. You can engage with him on social media or on his YouTube channel, and you can find him at fdoceballos.com
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute