Early-Career Engineers: Don't Limit Your Job Search Like This!
Updated: May 15
There are some real world things universities simply do not cover in engineering school. Teaching the business and "real world" side of engineering simply doesn't fit into the already packed ABET accredited curriculum for engineering departments in the US.
Luckily, there are people in the field you can access for help, and I hope I can be one of those people for you.
So, here's tip #1 for the job hunt...
One thing I recommend to young candidates is -- do not limit your job search to consultancies alone.
Here are some of the other spaces where you might find work:
Government: This could be local, like a municipality, or at a national level, such as the EPA or USACE.
Industry: This could be Oil & Gas, a mining company, or any number of different types of manufacturers. Environmental Engineers especially should be able to find opportunities in the EHS&S
Contractors/Constructors: There are many different types. Some specialize in building industrial facilities. Some specialize in water and wastewater treatment. Take your pick. The experience will be invaluable.
Equipment Manufacturers: One might consider this a subset of Industry. The reason I highlight it is because in a field like water and wastewater treatment, there's a lot of room for a young engineer to learn and grow at the companies where the treatment equipment is actually manufactured and where new innovation could be happening for the development of new treatment technology.
Emerging: I'm not sure what to call this. I want to share something I've seen that I think we can expect to see more of, in terms of unique opportunities for future engineers or current engineers who jump on board... We become more reliant on technological tools and software in life (including businesses) every day. Some software companies have grown tremendously in the niche of EHS&S, offering enterprise software to large corporations. A niche born out of this some engineers have entered is the configuration and integration of such software for clients - not computer engineers, mind you, but environmental engineers. And don't let anyone tell you this would be bad way to go. These professionals can demand IT hourly rates, i.e. substantially more than an engineer or geologist working in a commodity service space can get with the same level of experience.
Consulting is one option, but it's not the only option. And just because you start your career in one space, it doesn't mean you have to stay there forever. Keep pushing, you are doing a good job!!! -Mel