How To Avoid Hindering Your Career in Mechanical Design Engineering

  • Live, learn and enjoy, a trainee mechanical design engineering role is just the start of your career
  • Mechanical design engineering involves many different roles, finding one which fits your strengths is vital to your future development
  • The spoonfed academic system prevalent in universities is not replicated in the workplace
  • While academic skills in mechanical design engineering will be appreciated by any employer, you also need to show a willingness to learn

As a dashing and aspiring mechanical design engineer, there are several things that can go wrong. This may be during you initial job hunt or your first work experience. Looking back there may be things you could and should have done differently. Therefore, here are few tips on how to avoid self-sabotage when it comes to seeking an entry level mechanical design engineer position and performing within it.

hindering career in mechancial design

Do your research

Your friend’s friend’s cousin twice removed telling you how the working hours and the wages are is not research. It is an additional perspective sure, but it is not solid information. Unless you know someone with direct experience who is willing to share facts and an honest assessment, you should do your research. Start with the industry, pointers and its overall economic health. Then build up to the companies you are targeting and their indicators. Review their benefits and ROI during the year you are applying. Also, try to get any information you can about their financial packages or those of their competition.

spoonfed knowledge career in mechancial design

Drop being spoon-fed knowledge

There is no guarantee you will have decent training and enough time to adjust at your future workplace. There may not be tutorials or someone to spell things out for you. Help should be available but is not guaranteed as everyone may be busy with their own work. Dropping the needy newbie attitude as early as possible will help you to get accepted quicker.

For example, mentioning in your resume the software you used with various projects is useful. As is detailing your level of proficiency as opposed to bland mentions in the skills set section. Getting early pointers about the kind of topics or workshops your future employer undertakes, allows you to hit the ground running. Showing initiative and a willingness to learn through the hiring process and the interviews is highly appreciated. A candidate that is no longer used to being fed information will have pertinent questions. These might include the :-

  • Kind of work conducted
  • General designs used
  • Early design process
  • Career path when starting from scratch within the company
  • Old software packages used in the past
  • Possible migration plans to other platforms

Acknowledge your limitations

If necessary, ask for three different assessments from three different people to have a solid idea about your skills/assets. Maybe look to ask a professor, an old boss from an internship or a part-time job or a lab partner/team member. The goal is to get as an impartial assessment as possible that will help you in negotiating your package without getting qualitative in your language: Empty statements such as…

I am a hard worker

I am a perfectionist

…are of no real use. However, qualified statements such as….

according to my boss, I get things done

my professor saw that I need structuring in my short terms goals so that I don’t zero down on specific tasks. I took his advice on board

….give a better insight into your character. This can help back up your claims for more money or less tight working schedules. All in all, preparing for this particular aspect is crucial. Providing the references is an asset and will lay the ground work for a face to face meeting.

personal growth career in mechancial designAllow yourself time to reflect and grow

If you are unsure that you actually aspire to the role in front of you, take some time to reflect. Do this by ticking off the reasons you may be feeling cautious or unhappy with your new position. Often, trainee mechanical design engineers can feel frustrated with the kind of assignments they are given. Either they’re too stupid, they take too much time or they are not what the engineer wanted to do in the first place. There is a simple solution; strive for improvement and make sure this can be assessed.

No one wants a designer that doesn’t develop. If anything your management will be happy to throw you more challenging projects or ones you feel are more suited to you. However, keep in mind you are still a rookie and despite a brilliant interview, you still have to prove yourself on the workfloor. Deliver what you promised but above all show a willingness to learn and develop your experience, skills and knowledge. Once you can do this, well, the world is your oyster!

About: Khadija Ouajjani

Since 2012. Mechanical Design Engineer in the aeronautics industry. Mainly dealing with CAD, FEA, simulation and analysis for turbo-engines. Writing for EC since 2014. Garlic, Color Pencils, Open Systems, Coffee, Herbert, Final Fantasy VII, Writing, Tolkien, Mechanics, Deutsch, Nihongo, Herbs, Aïkido, Tea, Cinnamon, Motion, Friends.

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