An engineering hobby is fun and enjoyable, and making the leap to turn this into a career can feel daunting. Changes will naturally happen, and this is something that you have to be prepared for. Making the leap from hobby to career may take time. It may also not be as simple as you think or as straightforward as you think. Once you have decided what area of engineering you wish to focus on, you then have to start working on yourself as a whole package. Your mindset needs to change when you move from hobby to career. If your mindset does not change, then you will lose the passion and joy you once held. So, what else do you need to think about when committing to change, and how can you make the transition as smooth as possible?
Dedication and Focus
You must be focused and dedicated at all times, and you must maintain your end goal in sight. You will have to fight off competition for an engineering career that you want, and you will have to be dedicated because your time and your energy will be taken up working on new projects, applying for positions, or simply networking. Turning a hobby into a career can be all-consuming if you are not careful, and this is something that you must control. If you lose the enjoyment you get from engineering, then you will struggle to get the satisfaction you need and deserve in your new career. To ensure that you remain both dedicated and focused, you need to always keep sight of your goals and ambitions. If you lose sight of these, you will struggle to maintain the course and direction that you need.
Getting the opportunities that you want might not happen as easily as you think, and this is why you need to persist with your transition. When you are working away on projects at home or even in your garage, you can give up on things, take a break, and walk away. However, when you undertake engineering as a career, this is not possible. You have to stick with a problem until a solution is found. This can be hard to do, especially when you have had the luxury of time previously on your side. When you persist, you can achieve more, and you can rectify issues and problems that you would have left (or not even noticed before). You need to practice persistence and resistance as much as possible, as these are two areas you will certainly face within an engineering career.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
As an engineer, you will be faced with a multitude of problems that you have to overcome. When you have your free time to play about with engineering, there is no real pressure there, and there is no time limit. You can work on something when you please, and as you please. However, this has to change when you work towards a career because you have to learn how important and valuable your time is. You must practice critical thinking and problem-solving in short periods of time, and you must try and think on your feet. Time is a luxury that you lose when you change from hobby to career, and this is something that you need to accept and factor in. Giving yourself deadlines and tackling new projects simultaneously will certainly help you develop these two key areas.
Retain Your Passion
When you make the switch from hobby to career, you can lose a little bit of passion along the way. Your passion is what makes your hobby fun and enjoyable, so it is important that you retain as much of it as possible. If you lose your passion for engineering, then you may lose your direction, and this may result in you not getting the career or opportunities that you want. To retain your passion, you may find it beneficial to talk about any problems you are having. You could reach out to friends and family and share what you are experiencing. Quite often, what you mistake for a loss of passion, is just a step in the wrong direction. This can be quickly altered with a change in direction, and it can be rectified before it spirals into a bigger problem. Quite often, you can overwork yourself trying to find the solution or answer to a complex problem, and this can make you feel that you are losing your passion. Sometimes, taking time for yourself, and taking a step back from what you are trying to achieve, can help reignite your passion and reignite your drive and direction to fulfill your ambition.
What Makes a Good Engineer
You may be doubting yourself when it comes to making the switch from hobby to career. However, you should not doubt yourself as your passion and determination have got you this far. You may be doubting that you have the skills and attributes to be a good engineer, and these doubts can end up affecting your confidence and possibly even your prospects too. So, before you knock yourself down, let’s look at just a few key areas that help to make up a good engineer.
- Teamwork and team player – You may be able to work well on your own, and this is great. However, sometimes, in certain situations, you have to be a team player. You have to focus on what is good for the team, and you have to work in conjunction (and harmoniously) with others. Being able to work with others when needed is a trait of a good engineer.
- Flexible thinking – How you think matters. When you think flexibly, you look for solutions in other ways, you use your experience and your knowledge to find the best way forward.
- Ability to apply Maths and Science – Science and math are always at play in engineering, and accepting that you need to use them daily will be beneficial to you and the way that you work.
- Effective Communication skills – You may prefer to work alone and to solve things your own way. However, this is not always possible, especially when you are working in a team. Clear and effective communication skills will help you solve a problem and help you and any team you are in get the solution needed.
- Innovation and creative thinking – Creative thinking will help you solve problems and find solutions. When you use creative thinking within your work, you see answers and solutions that you may have overlooked previously. Innovating and innovation will also help you to find new ways (and solutions) of problem-solving.
- The ability to solve problems – Wanting to solve problems and enjoying solving problems is what all good engineers look to do, and it is something that you should apply to everything you do.
Aligning yourself with just a few of these areas will help you to see that you have what it takes to succeed in engineering.
To make the transition from hobby to career that little bit easier and more enjoyable, then you need to start looking out for opportunities to make the leap. Seizing an opportunity that you spot can help you get noticed and recognized. To spot opportunities, you have to keep your ear to the ground, and you have to perhaps look in areas you haven’t thought about before. Building a strong network can help you hear about new opportunities before others. As well as networking, you have to start putting yourself and your work out there. You have to build your confidence and realize that you can achieve career success as an engineer. To spot opportunities, you have to look both close to home and further afield too. Sometimes, thinking big may help, for example, thinking mass market. However, other times you may spot opportunities by going back to the drawing board and looking at projects and problems you may have overlooked before.
Criticism and Feedback
You are a good engineer, but could you be better? – Of course, you could. Sometimes criticism and feedback can be hard to hear and take on board, but it is necessary. Constructive criticism and feedback will help you grow as an engineer, and it will help you see how you can improve what you are doing. Whether you receive criticism about your work or about a problem you are working on from family, friends, or fellow engineers, how you handle it matters. Feedback and criticism are not personal, and it is not targeted to break you down; when you realize this, you can start seeing the true value in feedback and criticism. If you choose to see it as a personal attack, then you may struggle to move forwards and build a successful career.
Training and Education
Your education and your training must always play a key part in your engineering career. Maybe as a hobby engineer, your education and training weren’t as important. However, not you are making a career out of engineering. It is vital that you take your education and training as far as you can. To reach the top of your game you should be looking at completing a masters in engineering management online program because this will give you the knowledge and the expertise that you need to succeed in the field of engineering. When you focus on your education and on continuous training, too, your mindset changes, and you start thinking about things differently, too. This changed mindset will be beneficial to what you do moving forwards.
Do Market Research
There is always going to be a lot of competition for engineering jobs and positions, and it is important that you establish where you can find a gap that needs filling. You have to stand out above the rest and to do this, you have to know where you can make a difference. Where is there a gap in the market that you can accommodate, and what can you offer that other engineers cannot? Market research will help to guide you towards the right career path, and it will help you to see how your transferable skills and attributes can help you build a steady and long-lasting career.
Having a Plan of Action
To go from hobby engineer to professional engineer, you need to have a plan of action. Without a plan of action, you risk not achieving your ambition and then not fulfilling your potential. Within your plan of action, you can cover what you will do and by when. You can also set career goals and personal goals to help you along the way. When you have a plan of action to work towards, you can be sure that you always stay on the right progressive track. If you fail to plan, then how will you know what route to take, and how will you know what you need to focus on? A plan of action can guide you, and it can help your career ambitions become a reality instead of a pipe dream. When you write down clearly what you want to achieve, and you begin to action them, you can be sure that you are following the correct path in switching your hobby into a career.
Finding an Engineering Position
There are lots of jobs, opportunities, and positions out there, and sometimes it is a case of waiting until one comes up that appeals to you. Of course, there is no harm in applying for things that don’t quite feel right because who knows where these might lead you? To find suitable positions and to stand a good chance at landing the role you want, you need to also focus on networking and making new connections. Diversifying who you know and reaching out to new people can help you to land a position. New contacts can also open up new opportunities that may end up taking your engineering career in a new direction completely.