My entire life, I had one goal: to become an engineer. To me, this seemed like such a steep goal, one that I would eventually reach, but one that would take the majority of my life. In a way, this is true, I have many goals that I want to achieve in my career, given that I am only at the beginning of my journey. However, after getting laid off from my first technical position, I realized how much I was dependent on my identity as an engineer, and how important being a multifaceted individual was.
I am extremely grateful for my career timeline at Plato, my first tech industry job. My experience there was a great one, the team I was on was one that always understood my situation as a full-time student and full-time employee. I started as an intern and eventually got hired full-time. Juggling the two was hard, but really taught me what industry was like and the rigor it demanded.
This first position allowed me to learn about myself, not only as an employee but as a person. These new takeaways have helped me analyze environments that I want to grow and learn in going forward.
Push to work on skills you are passionate about.
Though hard to implement, this was extremely important for me. Being new to the industry, learning everything I could seemed achievable at the time. I soon learned that narrowing my scope and focusing on skills that I wanted to build to further my career was important. This needed to be carefully balanced with what a job may demand of you and what you love doing, but it is important to voice what may work for you in each environment.
Learn to leverage your non-technical skills, and be compensated for them.
This was extremely important for me especially since the technical skill I possess will not be near that of other experienced technical professionals as an entry-level engineer. I had to shift my focus to showcasing other skills. This lands on my list because I really feel like I have never done this enough. From languages to UI/UX skills, this is one thing I cannot stress enough. Being well-rounded pays off in the end, and if it doesn’t, you need to find a position that will recognize the assets you bring to the table in addition to your job description.
Your title matters for what you want to do.
This is a more nuanced point, but I am of the opinion that in the technical field when starting out, it is important to have a title that is appealing or showcases what you do easily. This makes recruiters and others quickly understand what you do without too much of a hassle. A solid title helps you move toward what you may want to do in the future (but at the same time it’s all about how you present yourself!).
Document and save your accomplishments outside of work resources.
Save. Save. Screenshot. Snip it. When it came to having to summarize and describe my work for new positions I realized how caught off guard I was by the layoff. I hadn’t documented anything outside of work resources, my templates, my notes, and more were all captured within a contained (and now revoked) environment. Find (within your rights)a way to store descriptions, pieces, and examples of what you do to showcase.
Market yourself and your passions.
Do not be afraid to be active about your passions and interests on social media. Being outward about what you love, allows others to see personal projects and other skills and talents you may have that you may not get to showcase on the job. Connect with others who enjoy what you do, and write your experiences down!
Know what you are worth and when to walk away.
As obvious as this may seem, being able to recognize when my talents weren’t being appreciated or when I wasn’t being given opportunities to grow, is one of the hardest lessons to learn. To leave potentially great opportunities, especially as a novice engineer, leaves one in a vulnerable spot.
To summarize, the shift in the attitude of companies and industry professionals towards recognizing the needs of a shifting workforce emerging from the pandemic has been a noticeable one. The understanding of employees as multifaceted people with many talents has been a great development. This initial experience has taught me a lot and I am always learning, and excited for the next chapter.
Onto contrive and devise the next project!