Eight career tips

July 2014 » Columns » FIRM THOUGHTS
David Evans, P.E., PLS, F.ASCE
“What are you doing the rest of your life?” — Alan and Marilyn Bergman

Your hard-earned engineering degree is in your hand. Or perhaps you have had it for a while and just earned your license to be a full-fledged engineer. Well, what to do next? Following are eight career tips excerpted from my book, “Achieving Zero”:

First, remaining open to the wisdom of others and being discerning about truth are essential in your endeavors. 

Second, value your close relationships in the industry, and your business advisors. A mentor, teacher, colleague, or client can help you through many difficult days and tough choices. Always be open to advice and accept criticism. 

Your college education is only the beginning of your education. Every project, task, study, etc. is an opportunity to learn.

Third, believe in yourself. When you believe you are right, be rigorous in your presentation. You may need to stop advocating, listen, and be appreciative of others’ positions. Once a conclusion is reached — whether you agree with it or not — accept the result and move on. Second-guessing, holding a grudge, and resenting decisions are never useful and will drain your energy and blur your focus.

Fourth, be a willing worker. An employee at all levels can and will be much more revered and appreciated if he or she takes on any task requested of them with a willing spirit and cheerful approach. And don’t wait to be asked to do things you see should be done. If the garbage needs to go out, just do it!

Fifth, don’t take yourself too seriously. Fun, enjoyment, and humor make all challenges less difficult and all problems more rewarding. The friendly business of engineering will provide numerous opportunities for humor, enjoyment, and collaboration. Grasp as many as you can. 

Sixth, keep your perspective on life. Remember why you are in the business and that it is only a way to provide you with the livelihood you seek. It is not your life; it is the way to achieve the life you want. 

Seventh, be fearless in your entrepreneurial efforts. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” And Yoda said, “Do! Or do not. There is no try.” Not all of your great ideas will bring the results or rewards you hope for or expect, but the ideas you are tempted to disregard might turn out to be the best ideas you will have! 

Eighth, to be successful in the crazy business of engineering, remember it is a business. Whether it is private or public, construction or design, inspection or management, if it does not make business sense, it won’t be successful.

David Evans, P.E., PLS, F.ASCE, is the founder (1976) and a member of the board of David Evans Enterprises, Inc., the holding company for David Evans and Associates (www.deainc.com), and the author of “Achieving Zero,” a book on the life of the firm. He can be contacted at david.evans@zweigwhite.com


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