Women in Engineering: Career advice to young women interested in an engineering career
“Start looking at internships early in your college career. Real-world experience is so important in determining what you want to do and where your skill sets are.”
Always be confident! It can be hard to speak up at times in a room full of men with more experience than you. If you have a question, ask, or if you have a suggestion, say something! I’ve learned that people always appreciate when you speak up and let your voice be heard, and it also presents an opportunity to learn something new or look at something from a new perspective. Also, I’d recommend joining an organization like the Society of Women Engineers (SWE); it is a great resource that allows you to network with other professional women engineers.
Curiosity is extremely important when starting off in the field of engineering. Developing curiosity and a love for learning will allow you to create new solutions and solve any problem. Engineers must have a passion for creating something new and different. Without these qualities, the job is much more difficult, and success will be hard to find. Additionally, applying for internships, talking to your professors and shadowing professionals are ways to help you identify what industry to work in and to adapt your skillsets accordingly. Finding a mentor is also incredibly important so you have a source for advice, shared experiences, and someone who can guide you in your career.
Develop a love and curiosity for engineering. You must ask questions, be humble, and willing to admit you don’t always have the answers. Be willing to grow. Successful women engineers are very motivated, and detail focused. Developing a passion for what you do is crucial not only in engineering, but in any career path.
The best advice I could provide to young women looking to be involved in a career in engineering is to find a mentor-reach out to anyone who you aspire to be like. Keep in mind that intimidation is a mental barrier; to overcome that, find supportive individuals to surround yourself with. Focus on confidence: if you have a love for the technical aspects of the field, the minor barrier of being a minority shouldn’t stop you.
Beginning your career as an industry minority, it is important to learn to approach problem solving without getting bogged down with excess detail. It is also necessary to gain hands-on learning early, as that affords you more credibility when making decisions. Lastly, developing a love for learning is essential, because in engineering, you will often be working on problems within challenging constraints where the answer is a creative solution.
Start looking at internships early in your college career. Real-world experience is so important in determining what you want to do and where your skillsets are. Don’t be intimidated to ask questions and try to build relationships with mentors that can help you develop.