Advice to a young engineer starting with a new company

in business •  3 years ago 

Recently, a young engineer asked me for some general advice about starting out in the workplace. He was starting his first job as a mechanical/aerospace engineering trainee with a large organization. I'm 50 and have been an engineer (or engineering manager) all my working life. Fwiw, I thought I'd share what I told him with you:

This is standard stuff but I find that it works pretty well in practice:

1) Be extremely responsive to the folks you work for at the new company. You can think of them as your clients. And no matter what their official rank, think of everyone as your client.

2) Your goal is to add value to the organization and you may have to do jobs outside your field of interest or expertise. Jobs you may think of as beneath you. Do them anyway and do them enthusiastically. People will notice.

3) Disregard a workplace culture which distracts you from actual work. Even if no one seems to care, you are there to work and if you do, it will be noticed. It's ok to be friendly and chat with your coworkers and neighbors, but maintain a general attitude of always wanting to get things done.

4) Avoid office politics. This is hard to do, especially as your career progresses, but try hard to do it. There is no way to navigate the political waters of an unknown organization and come out ahead. The best way to do this is by not taking sides, maintaining an objective focus, not talking about others, and pretending a general unawareness of whatever political situation is being offered for comment.

5) Get along with people. Be friendly and always willing to help. Be especially sensitive about issues of discrimination or other legal policies of the company. Remember that the company may be filled with many people of differing ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. You are expected to get along with all of them. Breaking these rules, btw, can lead to a very quick dismissal.

6) Learn as much as you can about the company and the technology you are working on. Trainees are often dismissed because it is assumed they don't know much and don't want to learn. Break out of that mold.

7) Try to relate what you are doing on the job to what you learned in school. If you didn't take a class in the area you are working in, try to educate yourself through books, the internet, etc. There is usually a fundamental textbook or theory behind what they are doing. It pays to learn it.

Just remember, companies are usually quite willing to invest in their promising young workers. So being identified as promising is what you need to do.

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Some good advice there for a young starter, Its great the young engineer came to you for advice so you can pass your knowledge on to them.

Great advice!

#2+3 are huge....the people that don't bring value and get caught up in workplace culture don't seem to advance very far- they're also the ones who view others success as 'luck' vs it being earned through hard work

The key to success is never stop learning new things!

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As I'm a student of engineering, it will help me in future.. every point has a worth. thanks.. :)