I'm still buried in thesis edits, though I'm getting close to the end. (For now anyway.) I took a break one afternoon last week to go to a panel discussion for women in engineering about how to get ahead professionally.
I've been thinking a lot lately about where I want to go with my career.
I have a variety of options. I'll be working for a very large
engineering firm when I gradate in May. If I stay there for my whole
career, it's likely that I will do engineering calculations 95% of the
time for my whole career. There's a chance of moving up higher in the
company and doing something more general like project management or
something more corporation oriented with a high level executive
position, but I don't know how likely that would be. I could stay there
long enough to get a couple of licenses and switch over to a smaller
firm where I could have a leadership role but still perform the
engineering work that has gotten me into the field. I could ultimately
decide to start my own firm by myself or with a colleague or two. If I decide I miss academia, I could go back and get a PhD so I can teach and/or do research. At various times, all of these sound quite
There were two big ideas that I took away from the panel discussion
today. One was to keep all avenues open, because you never know which
way you will decide to take your career later on. If you pigeon-hole
yourself too early you may find it very difficult to change course
later. The other idea was that your relationships matter. I've known
that for a while, but getting specific suggestions for how to get
involved with the right professional organizations, how to build
meaningful relationships, and how to find mentors was extremely helpful.
Since I'll be moving to a brand new area when I graduate, the
professional and academic contacts I have here won't be as relevant and
certainly won't be as accessible as I will want. I need to start
thinking now about how to go about making those contacts inside and
outside of the company I'll be working for without the framework
provided by my university. I'm thinking I should start looking into
those professional organizations now, and also finding members of my
alumni association in my future home, so that I can be as prepared as
possible for this transition.
There's something about hearing successful people talk and give advice that makes me feel like I can do anything if I just make the right choices along the way. Right now I feel like the world is mine for the taking, if I can just get myself through graduation. My posting is likely to remain sporadic until then. I have priorities, and blogging comes after both school and career.