I recently spoke to an engineer who is currently unemployed and asked him what his short-term plans/goals are. He responded that he was going to either take a new job or get a master’s degree, whichever one comes first.
Your Career Goals Lead the Way
I immediately stopped this engineer and started questioning him on what his career goals are. He started talking about how he wants to possibly get into the public sector and also eventually transition into management.
I then proceeded to go through a series of questions with him based on these goals to help him determine the best course of action at this point in time in order to put him in the best position to achieve his goals. In the end, he realized that starting a master’s degree program now, before he had secured a job, probably wasn’t a good idea, and therefore he began adjusting his career plan.
Don’t Play the Toss a Coin Game
Your engineering career is a very large part of your life. Some of you will spend 50 to 60 hours a week on it. Do not approach it with the toss a coin strategy—“I’ll either do X or Y, whichever comes first.” You must have clear goals and craft a clear plan of action to achieve them.
Going through your career and life simply tossing coins is not a good strategy and will hardly yield results that make you truly happy.
Start Right Now by Asking Why
If you are up in the air with regards to the direction your engineering career path is headed, ask yourself where you want to be in your career over the next year or two. Then ask yourself the more important question of WHY you want to be there.
The answer to this second question will give you the information that you need to start developing a plan that moves you towards your goals. Let someone else flip a coin; you make decisions based on what you really want to do in your career and life.