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Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

I'm a recent graduate of a civil engineering program. I'm working as an E.I.T. designer currently for a small consulting firm. They do a lot of specific specialized stuff, but we also do a lot of general structural engineering, ex. foundation design, roof analysis for additional loads, etc...I've been there for 6 months now, and don't mind what I'm doing however I don't see it as something I could do for much longer. My concern especially is that in working for this company I will be limiting my future options, as a potential employer could see me as someone who only knows the stuff this firm specializes in.

I thought I wanted to be a designer, and truthfully I want my PE, but I see a lot of my friends doing project management and I realized I'd be a lot more intersted doing that (judging by the way they desicribe thier jobs). Is trying to get into project management now (aka. sending out resumes w/ only 6 months experience in design, though currently employed) a good or bad idea?

Also, if changing job couldn't happen in the near future, how would my future look in converting over to more of a management type role, as opposed to a guy who crunches numbers for design in a couple of years? What is the difference in career path between someone who starts out as a designer vs. someone who starts out in project managemener? I'm talking responsibilities, salary and employment opportunity, and how does that change over time?

I'm so new to this industry, so I really want to feel out where I fit in. I appreciate any reponses! cheers

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

One of the best designers who ever worked for me had spent eight years working for an aero engine builder. All he ever did for them was design brackets to hold fuel lines, and only on one side of the engine. He was never allowed to see the actual engine, or even to see drawings of the other side of one, much less understand how any of it worked.
It took me a few months to convince him that he could do things other than brackets, and that it was okay to bring his brain to work.

You, in contrast, have some variety in your work. Now that you're starting to feel confident doing it, you can amuse yourself, and expand your horizons a bit, by figuring out how to automate some of it, so you can do it faster and/or better. That effort should also get you to a better understanding of why you're doing certain things in particular ways, and why you don't do them in any number of other ways.

Whichever path you choose in the future, do it in the future.

Jumping ship now will look _really_ bad on your resume, and you will be explaining your decision for the remainder of your career. Give it at least two years.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Do all the grunt work you can. That will serve you better when you tackle the PE.

Keep your head down pounding out the work and your 6 months will turn to 6 years before you notice.

I personally won't assign projects to someone who hasn't done the work themselves - the more the better.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

it takes very different personalities to succeed as either designer, engineer, project "weenie", or mgmt. to some extent you can make yourself fit the job, and make the job fit you, but you need (IMHO) to be satisified with it.

be Very careful jumping ships just 'cause of how the other crew describe their ship ... what sounds inviting and exciting often isn't.

in 6 months i think you've learnt little about the job. now it could be that you're seeing how your company treats people, a la mike's post.

personally i'd give it a year or so before you think you've exhausted this position. before jumping ship, i'd ask to get more experience in the other areas that might interest me ... more engineering analysis, more project work, and see how you like the work. if they don't let you do this, then you've got a good reason for looking for a new job.

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Over the past two years I've been transitioning myself out of PM and back into being an engineer. Times have changed; to me it's not what it was 20 years ago. Depending on where you work, a typically PM: watches the budget; has no say in the design; has to find room for unproductive people; gets nothing but grief from the accounting dept; spend a lot of time praying that he doesn't get screwed over too badly; etc.

All the best.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Sort of like bridgebuster, I once thought of management as a goal, until I found that "management" is a concept which doesn't exist.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

In engineering, project management is a house of cards and is bound to fail if you do not know what you are doing. Many of the experienced engineers here have obviously been through the wringer and then some. So it's not fun! However with good design experience in whatever field you do, it will help you make solid decisions. I am sure if PM is in your personality you will eventually get there. From my perspective stick with design for 5 to 10 years depending on your area.



RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

IMHO if you want to go down the management route you need to obtain an advanced degree in business.
However, as an engineer you can eventually work your way up to manage engineers but if you want to climb
the corporate ladder you are probably years off.

I spent my whole career in engineering and avoided management, the technical route, so I probably don’t
know what I’m talking about. [smile]

Good luck.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Honestly you have so little experience that worries about being pigeonholed as one thing or another should be the farthest from your mind. Doing one thing for a year or two or three won't ruin you from doing something else. Making a transition from engineering to management isn't very difficult and you can do it at any point in your career. It all depends on how far into management you want to get. If your goal is to eventually be a VP or CEO type you better start now and sign up for business school. However if Program Manager or Engineering Supervisior are roles you might desire, you have your whole career to decide. Generally for these types of roles actual engineering experience will work in your favor. Transitioning from management back to engineering is not quite as easy.

Like others have said, engineering an management require some different skills and you will face different types of challenges. It depends on what you want out of your career and what you are good at.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

I went design and my husband went project management, out of the same program at the same school. 15 years down the road, here's my take: once you let go of design, it's really hard to get back into. Husband was really, really good at design in school but he'll be the first to say now that he can't design a simple beam anymore. He can, however, tear through a contract like nobody's business. So, it really depends on what you want long-term.

6 months is barely a blip on a resume. Like others said - unless you're miserable and your work/life/whatever is suffering bigtime, stick it out. You likely won't get handed your own projects until 3-4 years out of school, if even then. But believe me, you'll look back on it and wonder why you thought you knew so much. Good luck.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Thanks for the responses everyone. I think I will hold off on applying to any positions then given the opinions. Just feel so overwhelmed in starting this career. I feel like I have to get be extremely anal in order to feel satisfied where I'm going. Looking at it from an outside perspective (since I don't know much about the field), it seems logical that a graduate should start off doing engineering, then with years of experience and technical knowledge, move into managing projects.

Just seems weird that I know people who have 4 months of coop experience get hired as 'project managers' right out of school.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

I can almost guarantee that unless their bosses are complete idiots, they aren't actually managing projects. Maybe a small part of a project, under someone else, but that's it. Take heart.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

I had couple of friends who started out as PMs right after school and all they did was check submittals and process RFIs and change orders initially. It took them atleast couple of years to be in a position to run projects on their own, obviously with the help of other folks. One of them didn't like the work pressure and moved to the design world...and now has a better perspective of both the worlds. He is my go-to-guy if I have any non-design related question.

RE: Can I end up where I'd like to, given what I'm doing now

Maybe I have no idea what I am talking about but I am slightly confused. When you say your friends are project managers, are they project managers at an engineering company or are they project managers for a construction company?

I can tell you that I attended a seminar recently and my adviser from my graduate program was there. I asked him on the job outlook was for the 2013 class. He said that it was mostly contractors who were hiring students and not many consulting companies. I even got the impression that some students left the program w/o any offers at all. This may reflect the job that you are doing vs your friends.

One other thing of note, I have many friends who make is seem like they are doing the "it" thing. They glorify their job to inflate themselves to others. The truth is that every job has its share or rewards....... and what I have found is that with greater rewards comes greater problems. Choose wisely.

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