Career Smart Insights
- When starting a career, it is important to learn about the desired role, absorb any knowledge surrounding that role, engage with people in that role by networking and grow within that role by being a life-long learner.
- It’s also important to get involved in career path professionally, like a society.
- The biggest step a person can take to finding a fulfilling career is to just say yes to as many opportunities as possible to discover a driving passion and purpose.
There are four keys to taking ownership of your career, which can help people reach their professional goals and get them into a role that they can thrive in. I think that I’ve always had the support of my managers and corporate leadership to chase the career path that I’m passionate about. Learning, absorbing, engaging and growing have been immensely impactful.
- Learn: Learn everything about the role desired. Who is in that role now? What did they do to get there? What goes into being successful in that role? What knowledge should I have to be a leader in that role? Learning all there is to know about a role and its requirements is an important first step. It’s the one I took when I was looking for my first job out of college and continue to do today.
- Absorb: Take in all the knowledge from those around who have been in that role. Take courses and trainings, attend lunch-and-learns, ask questions, volunteer to take things on and attend conferences. Soon, opportunities not previously considered will present themselves, and with newly-gained knowledge, there is a better understanding of that role. While starting a career, just say yes to things. People will begin to see you as a go-to person for help.
- Engage: Being an active member of professional organizations is key to taking ownership of a career. I got engaged early on with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and have held numerous leadership positions with our local chapter, including my current role as president. Being involved in ASHRAE has probably been the most beneficial thing I’ve done in my career and has led to so many open doors that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to walk through if it weren’t for my willingness to engage. Networking and putting yourself out there early on will set you apart from your peers.
- Grow: Looking for ways to grow my career and myself has continued to help me succeed at Dewberry. I took the professional engineering exam as soon as I was able, which for me was shortly after I graduated. I still have plenty of room and many years of growth ahead of me and will continue to grow and learn through my career. I have plans to get a variety of certifications focused on energy management and sustainability that will continue to help me grow in the field I’m most passionate about.
Professional and community involvement
While I’ve intentionally sought out some of my professional involvement, like ASHRAE, I’ve been fortunate enough to be presented with other opportunities. Last year, I was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Building Code Council, where I help develop updates for the state building codes, including the energy and mechanical code. While I love contributing to the technical side of the industry in addition to my day-to-day role, I also love being a part of encouraging and inspiring the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals, particular young women. Earlier this year, a colleague asked if I’d present to his daughter’s Girl Scout troop about my job, and I couldn’t have been happier to share my experiences with them. The troop had tons of questions and was so engaged with the presentation. It’s important for girls at a young age to see someone they can relate to in a STEM field and encourage them to stay engaged with math and science.
My advice to young professionals
My advice to any young professional, whether they’re a middle school student interested in a career in engineering, or they’ve just graduated and are about to start their first full-time job, is to find a gap and fill it. Say yes to opportunities that present themselves. While I’ve known for a long time that sustainability is my passion, I’ve found so many other things I’m passionate about just by stepping into a role that needed to be filled.
Original content can be found at Dewberry.