1 February 2001
To move forward, no blinders allowed
With the new year unfolding, it's a sure bet that a few engineers are sitting pensively at their desks pondering what and where their next career move will be. Or they're worrying about whether this will be the year a huge company-eating megacorporation will gobble up their firm and then spit out unemployed engineers in the name of synergy.
Such concerns fill some of the letters that arrive at our offices:
I am an instrumentation engineer with eight years of experience in the petrochemical industry. I have also gotten my master's in business administration in marketing. Now I want to change my career. Should I go for software development, or should I go for networking?
I am a student in my third year of instrumentation engineering. Our college does provide us technical skills, but we don't get any knowledge of business skills, which is quite important in today's race for good jobs. What shall I do to get an edge over other engineers?
I am an instrumentation engineer with seven years of experience in leading engineering consultancies in India. As you know, the world is looking at India next only to the U.S. for software development. There is a plethora of opportunities and courses offering different areas of specialization. Which platform should I specialize in to advance my career?
For all their concern, these writers are similar in another crucial way: They get it. They know they won't thrive simply by being talented in one area. The engineer needs to know the nuts and bolts behind running the business. The business folks need to know how to push product. Obviously, they are looking for answers to questions only they can answer. But instead of just sticking their heads under water and hoping the waves of change will wash over, they see the future and want to know how they can advance their careers.
This is not to say you can't have a rich and fulfilling career as an instrumentation engineer. You can. But if there is one rule of thumb we all have to remember these days, it's this: No blinders allowed. Learn about the advances, the new techniques, and the nuances of your business, not just the corner you happen to be especially good in. You'll be better for it. What's more, you will know who is coming your waymaybe encroaching on your spaceand you'll be prepared to thrive in the face of change.
And when you find yourself asking, "What do I need to do next?" chances are you will already know.
How can you control your future? Talk to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 990-9275. IT