As we begin another new year, inevitably we will hear about New Year’s resolutions, reflecting upon the last year, and setting goals to achieve as the year unfolds. In the theme of New Year’s resolutions and goal setting, all of us here at Civil Engineering Academy wants to help you make 2023 the most successful year yet in your engineering career. In this week’s blog post, we provide you with some ideas for goals and resolutions. Maybe you’re a civil engineering student or starting a second career in civil engineering, just starting out and feeling intimidated by the FE Exam or coursework, maybe you’re a younger engineer starting your professional career, feeling a bit frustrated after taking the PE Exam a couple of times, perhaps you’re well-established in your engineering career and are looking for what’s next. Regardless of where you’re at, we are here to walk alongside you in your civil engineering journey to provide you with the resources and guidance you need.
If you are still in school working on your undergraduate civil engineering coursework, consider setting some goals around internships, maintaining your high grades, and passing the FE Exam.
Internship and Co-op opportunities are essential to getting practical, real-world experience in civil engineering. You will get to work in an engineering role in a firm, company, or government agency and apply the civil engineering principles you are learning in school to real-world application, under the direction of more experienced engineers. Oftentimes internships may pay a small stipend or salary and you can receive college credit for your experience as well. Additionally, internships may lead to employment in full-time civil engineering roles after graduation.
As a student, your main priority is to get the best possible grades that you can. High grades will lead to high GPA’s and respect from professors all of which will be crucial for landing your first full-time role in civil engineering.
Take FE Exam
If you are in your junior year of undergrad or beyond, it’s time you start making a plan to pass the FE Exam. The Civil Engineering Academy Ultimate Civil FE Review Course is one of the top resources for helping you crush your FE Exam. Check it out here.
Let’s say you’re a new civil engineer, you’ve crushed your undergraduate coursework, and you have entered your first job as a civil engineer. Congrats! You are on your way. I would encourage you to set some goals around the theme of learning including taking your exams and finding a mentor.
Take FE Exam
If you haven’t already, you need to take your FE Exam. That should be your first priority. Why? This exam tests basic engineering fundamentals, a lot of the topics covered in early undergraduate civil engineering courses (calculus, differential equations, statics, dynamics, etc..) The nuances and details in these topics will likely fade in your memory the further away you move from your undergrad years, so knock this exam out ASAP! (Pro tip: the Ultimate Civil FE Review Course will help you crush this too!)
Begin studying for and taking the PE
So you’ve crushed your FE Exam, Congrats! Be sure to apply to your state licensing board to obtain your designation as an EIT or EI (Engineer in Training or Engineering Intern, depending on the state). Your next goal is to crush your PE Exam. Since 2022, and the exam transitioning to a Computer-based-testing format, one of the nice things about this is decoupling. Decoupling means you no longer have to wait to have your years of experience to apply to take the exam. Rather you can take the exam as soon as you would like. You still need your years of experience (which vary by state) to apply for the professional engineer licensure but you can be studying and take the exam during the years when you are simultaneously acquiring your experience. This is a huge time saver and you need to use this to your advantage. Enroll in the Ultimate Civil PE Breadth and Depth Review Courses over today to get started on this goal!
Find a Mentor
All of us can learn valuable insights from those who have gone before us. Look around your firm, agency, or the greater engineering community to find a mentor who can offer you advice and guidance as you move forward in your civil engineering journey. People are willing to share their experiences and advice with you, all you have to do is seek them out and ask. Similarly, use your early years in your engineering career to confirm that your chosen discipline is the right one for you within civil engineering. Perhaps, you started in geotechnical but realize that structural is a better fit for you. It is easier to make a transition between disciplines the earlier you are in your career. Find a practicing civil engineer in the discipline you are interested in and invite them to lunch to have a conversation about their experiences and working in their discipline. This will help you get a better understanding of the daily workflow within the discipline.
Perhaps you are an established engineer, fully licensed PE and well on your way to being an expert in your field. Congrats! That’s huge! And even better news, there are so many doors open to you in your career at this point – in fact, these opportunities are just beginning.
Keep up Continuing Ed
Lifelong learning is essential to a successful civil engineering career. Be sure to stay on top of your continuing education requirements and track your professional development hours (PDH) to maintain your professional engineer license, and any other certifications you may have. Now may also be a great time to consider returning to school to pursue a master's or doctorate degree in civil engineering. Many civil engineers also return to school to pursue a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) to educate them about managing projects, budgets, and finances. The important thing is that you keep learning and keep your skills sharp.
Find a Mentee
Now more than ever, younger engineers just starting out are looking for career advice and direction. You may consider getting involved and giving back to the engineering community by serving as a mentee and providing guidance and advice to newer engineers. You may make a mentor-mentee connection in your workplace, through a community organization you are involved in, or through your local American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Chapter. It always feels rewarding to give back and you will gain some valuable insights along the way.
Set new career goals
This may also be the point to reflect and set some new career goals. This could be to pursue advanced leadership roles within your organization or increase your technical knowledge and specialty. Maybe you want to teach a few evening classes at your local community college in the evenings and have a role in educating the next generation of civil engineers. A great goal would be to come on the Civil Engineering Academy Podcast as a guest in 2023 – We would love to have a conversation with you and hear about your engineering journey!
We are here to help you every step of the way towards becoming a licensed PE. Check out Civil Engineering Academy Breadth and Depth Courses. These courses were the keys to success on my journey and I invite you to check time out. We’ll see you there!
Do you have a topic or interesting project that you would like us to cover in a future blog post? Submit it to us here. We would love to hear from you!
Author: Matt Fanghella, PE, CFM
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