Top 5 tips for females entering STEM careers
While everyone at every stage of their career should never stop learning, young female engineers should focus on a few basics during their first few years after graduation that will benefit them the rest of their career. Below are my top five recommendations.
1. I hope you passed the EIT exam while a senior. If not, go ahead and knock this out. As soon as you pass it and graduate, start studying for the PE exam. I recommend taking it within a year of graduation. Then as soon as you have four years working under a registered professional engineer, you can register yourself. You never know where you will go throughout your career, and being a registered professional engineer can open doors.
2. Brush up on your computer skills. Word, Excel, Power Point, Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, and CAD software are basics you need to be expert in using. Learn to unlock all the features of the software that will make tasks easier to perform. Otherwise, you can waste time trying to figure out how to accomplish certain tasks.
3. Focus on improving your management and leadership skills. Technical understanding is key to be a good engineer, but if you ever want to climb the ladder you need to develop your soft skills too. Take classes in management, writing, and public speaking. Develop the ability to clearly communicate in a confident and appealing manner. The ability to handle human interactions is the most effective way to accomplish a goal and is critical for long term career success.
4. I recommend you join engineering groups and associations. Become an active member and participate in leadership roles when open. For example, I was the secretary for a DNP user’s group early in my career. I developed a relationship with the president that resulted in my company recently getting the chance to bid on a project. You never know who you will meet that will help you later.
5. My final recommendation is to find a mentor. It is essential for you to find someone who will guide you the right direction. A good mentor helps you avoid the major pitfalls. Ask questions and show interest. A good mentor can explain “why” not just “how” if questioned. This will give you a deeper understanding.
I hope these five recommendations help you in your first few years while navigating the labyrinth that is the engineering field. If you have any questions, you are always welcome to reach out to me directly. I have a passion for helping the next generation of engineers.