7 Ways to Move Up the Ladder with a STEM Degree, Part 2


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Part 1 of “7 Ways to Move Up the Ladder with a STEM Degree” looked at planning, training, and honing your skills to advance an engineering career. Here are a few more strategies to help you along.

4. Start networking

Not only is networking a good way to continue developing your interpersonal skills, it’s also useful to develop positive relationships with other people in your field — particularly if you ever find yourself looking for work outside of your firm. The best approach is to figure out how you can help other people in your network. In this case, helping others is helping yourself.

“Networking is not just about what I can get. It's about giving,” Suffredini says. “What can I give? How can I support others in getting what they want? There's that old saying from Zig Ziglar, ‘You can have everything in life you want, if you'll just help enough other people get what they want.’ Make those connections and maintain those over time.”

5. Exercise your right brain

While it’s important to have strong analytical skills both as an engineer and as a manager, upper-level positions often involve a bit more creative thinking than you may be doing now. Maybe that means taking some nontechnical courses, like business training, or it could even mean doing something artistic or studying a language. Whatever it means for you, start developing your right brain.

“When you start to exercise the other side of your brain, you can really have success outside of the engineering field, because you're taking your analytical skills and adding to them, Fasano says. “It gives you a big advantage, because most people usually focus on either or.”

For You: Learn more career and strategies.

6. Hold yourself accountable

It’s all well and good to educate yourself and hone your unique skillset. But it’s another thing entirely to put that practice into action.

“You could always read a book on how to become a better manager, but there's no accountability to have to implement those things in the book,” Fasano says. “Think about something that you're going to do that's going to hold you accountable. Whether it’s something within your firm, or making a commitment to your company that you're taking a course, or going after a license; all these things are going to force you to really implement the things you're learning,” he says.

7. Look outside the box

If your firm isn’t willing or able to promote you to the job you want and deserve, then it may be time to start looking elsewhere. You have a valuable skill set to offer, and someone else may will see them, even if your company can’t. Update your resume to reflect all of the training and skills you’ve taken on and position yourself for management roles. The truth is, your engineering says a lot more about you than simply that you possess the technical skills needed to be an engineer.

“An engineering degree is one of those degrees where people just assume that you're smart,” Suffredini says. “So they will oftentimes give you the benefit of the doubt. There are opportunities that can come from that.”

Tim Sprinkle is an independent writer.

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An engineering degree is one of those degrees where people just assume that you're smart. There are opportunities that can come from that.

Terry Suffredini, engineering career strategist

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June 2018

by Tim Sprinkle, ASME.org