Every profession has success and failure stories, however, everyone entering the four walls of an institution aspires to succeed. In certain places, one may enter a profession just to answer graduate and obtain a degree but this may not be the case in the civil engineering profession.
The civil engineering profession requires good mathematical and technical ability and prowess to achieve excellence in the classroom and in the field. Thus, a student who was admitted to study civil engineering in a tertiary institution has a wide vision and deserves to achieve success and a good living in the career. Outlining in this short article are some practical practices that would enable young civil engineers to achieve fulfilling careers in the profession.
Learn the Theory
The first step to being a successful civil engineer is to learn the theory. The theory is thought in the classroom and it is in the classroom that aspiring civil engineers are first thought the principles of civil engineering that cuts across almost all aspects of civil engineering. Even though learning the theory in the classroom does not always define who becomes successful as a civil engineer, it is often one of the surest guarantees that you would succeed.
In the classroom, work hard to get a good degree you should be proud of. This good degree would set you up in the correct position to land your first job because most recruitment agencies usually go for those with good degrees and promising future careers. Though not everyone would be favoured to be hired upon graduation, a good degree still posits well to go for higher studies to Masters and Ph.D. studies and gives you much confidence and better chances even if you may want to change to another profession.
Learn the Practical
As a graduate civil engineer, it may often be challenging to get a job upon graduation. However, some practical skills you have gained during the period of studies can enable you to start as a self-employed engineer. Civil engineering is a practical profession and the sooner we understand and appreciate this key truth, the better for us. During the period of undergraduate studies, aspiring civil engineers are often acquainted with the practical processes of civil engineering during internships. Don’t take these internship programmes lightly but put your mind to it and learn whatever you need to learn. Be proactive and ask questions for whatever you do not understand. It is during this period that you can appreciate the practical aspects of the theories you have been learning and the ones you may still learn in the classroom. Even though internship programmes are often short periods, endeavour to utilize the period properly.
Internships are also an important opportunity to create a network of friends and senior colleagues. During this period, endeavour to get contacts of senior and experienced colleagues in the profession and continue to keep in touch even after you have completed the training because the contacts you got then can the possible opportunity to land your first job after graduation. Keep in touch with them and often inquire about openings in their companies when you have graduated.
After graduation, if you have not yet gotten a job, endeavour to attach yourself to a design office or associate with an engineer in practice. In this role, be humble and diligent and put your mind to the work to learn even though you may not be well remunerated initially, try to learn the work. The experience you gain at this stage would position you for future employment options and may also set you apart if you wish to engage in private practice.
Learn Software and CAD Tools
Knowledge of a number of software and CAD tools are as important as knowledge of theory in civil engineering applications. There are many aspects of civil engineering such as structures, geotechnics, environment, water resources, and highway/transportation engineering. Depending on the aspect you are interested in; endeavour to learn one to three software applications in the area. Always make research to learn the software that is most in high demand in the job society, especially your immediate society. Knowledge of CAD tools for drafting is very important for every civil engineer. Therefore, make an effort to learn CAD tools and learn them well.
If you are interested in academia as a civil engineer, knowledge of CAD tools, software, and analysis tools would also help you to facilitate research that would much impact in society. Be proactive in this aspect and learn software well; make sure you know and understand theories of application well before using any software to ensure the reliability of the output because the output of every software depends on the input which also depends on the skill of the user. Knowledge and application of a good number of industry-demand software would set you apart in the job market.
Build a Team
Successful delivery of civil engineering structures especially megastructures usually involves the proper coordination of a team. As a young civil engineer, it is expedient to have a team of workers and like minds that may incorporate fellow civil engineers, technologists, technicians, craftsmen, and artisans. Proper engagement with and management of these diverse talents would set you apart in civil engineering practice. Poor engagement and management of these teams can lead to the delivery of shoddy jobs which would affect your reputation. Be well aware that you cannot do this alone and you cannot be at all project sites at the same time. When you have built a good team, they would help you oversee your projects when you are not available and ensure that quality is maintained at every stage of the project.
If you are working in a company, teamwork is usually a much desired skill. It is often one of the most critical soft skills that a civil engineer should have. Develop this skill and nurture it. Learn to cooperate and work together in a team to ensure successful project delivery to the client’s satisfaction.
Learn to Socialize
Civil engineering is a social profession. In every civil engineering project especially buildings, clients desire to see a touch of aesthetics which can be described as a social attribute. This implies that when a project delivered by a civil engineer is appealing to the client, the client is more likely to patronize the civil engineer and give the person more referrals. As a civil engineer, endeavour to build a social circle among families, family associates, friends and colleagues, etc., and endeavour to incorporate aesthetics as much as possible in your services without compromising quality and function. A good social circle coupled with quality services would set you apart as a civil engineer and give you a number of referrals. This is important whether you are in self-employment or in a company.
In your social circle, also learn the corporate culture. Successful engineers have unique ways of dressing, interacting, and coordinating to get things done. If you are in an organization, try and learn and abide by the organization culture for excellence but where the organizational culture does not favour you, you may want to change the organisation to a more suitable one for peace of mind and maximum productivity.
Join Professional Organization and Network
Professional network organization’s is one of the ways to improve one’s career prospects and improve visibility. Even though you are doing a good job, you may not be known unless you show your skill. For this possess, endeavour to associate with professional organizations and seek opportunities to make presentations to demonstrate your skills.
In professional organizations, endeavour to participate in training and professional development programmes. Through these, you would build a portfolio that would set you apart from competitors in the field. Besides professional organizations, seek other opportunities to create a network of like minds both in your locality and internationally. This would create multiple opportunities for services.
Be Diligent and Humble
Be diligent and humble in all your relations and practices. Even with all your skills, arrogance, and headiness would put you in a bad light before clients, colleagues, and bosses. Diligence and humility before your boss would make him be willing and open to teach you the art and also make him willing to take you along on bigger projects. With your colleagues, good relationships would enable them to associate you with projects while you can get more referrals from your clients.