In honor of National Engineers Week, we’re offering a “mini-series” of blogs for high school students contemplating a career in Engineering and technology. It’s no secret that that’s where the jobs are. In the Forbes’ article on the 15 most valuable college majors, (based on salary and job opportunities) 5 out of 15 feature the word “engineering.”
If the road ahead feels a bit intimidating, this is the perfect time to adopt our mantra: Don’t Stress. Just Plan. Any project, even one as weighty as forging your future, is nothing more than a series of steps. And we’re here to help.
Step 1 – Find the Right Fit
How can you be sure, at this stage in life, that Engineering is for you? It will require a commitment of time, effort and money. It’s a competitive field, full of smart people, and you’ll need a graduate degree.
Our recommendation is to try out your future career before you even get to college. Engineering summer camps, internships or volunteer jobs will give you the opportunity for hands-on experience. Once you’ve “walked a mile” in those career shoes, you’ll have a better feel for the industry, the environment and the day-to-day routine. Ideally this experience will magnify your passion for the field.
If the engineering path feels right, keep in mind that there are many different disciplines within the field. The Forbes article places bio-med engineering in their top spot, but software, environmental, civil and petroleum engineering are also in high demand. We recommend that you use your freshmen year to explore several options before you start to specialize.
Finding the right fit in colleges is critical, as well. On Wednesday, don’t miss Blog #2 in this series, Considerations for Choosing the Right College, which will include a customized checklist for aspiring Engineering students.
Step 2 – Prepare for College
An engineering degree is preferable, but not necessarily required. Degrees in hard science, math, and computer science are also considered highly valuable. For advice on preparing for the rigorous academic load of a college engineering major, we consulted Ms. Mary Tipton Woolley, the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech (#4-ranked engineering school in the country!). She advises, “The most important thing students can do to prepare themselves is to challenge themselves in high school. Take the most rigorous courses available to learn to balance the academic load that will be faced in college.”
Math: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Probability & Statistics, Calculus courses
Science: Physical Science, Biology, Applied Biology/Chemistry, Chemistry and Advanced Physics
Engineers must effectively communicate their design ideas, so English, Writing and Speech classes are also an important part of pre-engineering coursework.
Step 3 – Prepare for Career
Maybe you’re thinking, “Just let me get through college first!” But there are some easy things you can do right now – in high school – to position yourself for success once you have your degree and are ready for the “real world.”
The number of engineering majors is increasing, so competition will be stiff. Employers will be looking for applicants with both the right coursework and some relevant experience. Again, we recommend internships, summer jobs, or summer career programs to increase your experience base.
This is also the time to create your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the perfect place to keep your list of accomplishments, classes and experience, so you don’t forget anything. Update your profile immediately when you have something new to add, and stay “engineering-targeted.”
In Blog #3 of our National Engineers Week series, we’ll provide detailed suggestions from our resume and job search expert, Lisa Matthews, Ph.D. Be sure to check back on Thursday for her insightful advice!
In the meantime, if you’d like additional tips for planning and achieving your academic goals, check out these recent Envision blogs: