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How can I further improve myself?

I am a Chemical Engineering student interested in renewable energy, biotechnology, and process engineering. I am pursuing minors in Energy Studies and Engineering Corporate Practice to further expand my skillset to include an understanding of economics and policy, project management, and business analytics. I am looking for any opportunities to further expand my knowledge and enhance my relevant skills. chemical-engineering engineer business career environment renewable-energy process-engineer

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Subject: Career question for you

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Adam’s Answer

Great question to continuously ask yourself! It's always advantageous to check in with your skillsets and experiences acquired to assess what makes the most sense to improve upon and advance your career. It would be best to scope out what industries would be fitting towards your selected major and accompanying minors so that the theoretical skills acquired can be applied to real experiences. Chemical engineers end up experiencing the role of a process engineering during their career endeavors as it encompasses mitigation strategies, continuous improvement, and product/process optimization particularly in manufacturing settings. However, these areas of expertise are also transferrable to many non-conventional industries an engineer may venture in.

Some other ways to improve your skillsets are the following:

Six sigma certification
Obtaining a white belt, green belt, and/or black belt adds a layer of expertise regarding lean methodologies that can be applied to many areas of business, especially for engineers

Engineer in Training Certification (EIT) - more applicable to construction/civil engineering, however, this certification preps an engineer to eventually pursue a Professional Engineering License (PE) that consulting/policy firms may require or prefer.

Certified Chemical Engineer (CCE) - more applicable to non-traditional people who've acquired a few years of experience within chemical engineering practices in industry that also have some level of achieved education beyond high school (associates degree or similar)

Here is a link to other certification programs to keep awareness of for further development as an engineer.
https://www.zippia.com/engineer-jobs/certifications/

Outside of certifications, acquiring minors, and/or pursuing masters/phD, the best areas of improvement to focus on would be professional leadership, technical, and soft skills. Harnessing these types of skills will provide anyone, especially engineers, faster career development and progression into higher tier roles.

Some of these skills include:
Emotional intelligence
Critical thinking and analysis
Ability to plan, organize, prioritize, make decisions, solve problems
Ability to be multifaceted, adaptable, and malleable/flexible
Leadership qualities that instill trust from subordinates and collaborators
Openness for continued learning
Oral and written communication skills
Being optimistic during setbacks or roadblocks



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David’s Answer

Gabriel,

I think the answers provided really give you a great starting place to pursue growth. I just wanted to add a tip that might make things a bit easier as well as making the fruits of those efforts come to bear more quickly.

When you want to venture into areas outside of your stated book of experience, try to find ways in which the new thing overlaps with what you already know and study. For example; if you want to learn more about economics, start by learning the economics of renewable energy; how their financed, how they make money, etc. This will not only make it easier to learn - you'll better understand the principles because you can relate them to what you've studied - but it will also give you a better understanding of your chosen field. This will serve as a good first step into a foreign topic because you can learn the terms and principles of the new thing through the lens of that which you already understand.

You'll find too that doing it this way will make you much stronger in your desired field. In the example above, having an understanding of the economics of renewable energy will help you devise strategies that better address some of the economic implications of the problem you're addressing; a thought that others might not have if they haven't made those connections already.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Gabriel,

I would recommend seeing if you can network with professionals who have skills in your areas of interest. Join communities where those subjects dominate and let others know why you are there - to learn. It is from those individuals that you can gain relevant direction. This is one of those forums but I am thinking about more in-person options in your local area. Sometimes the best way to go is by being able to talk to and see others doing the tasks.

Gloria
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Danny’s Answer

Hey Gabriel,
You are already halfway there! You have identified the areas that you wish to improve on, so all that's left is finding the resources that would help you.
Understanding of economics and policy - You can find an intro to economics course to learn about this subject. For areas that you wish to learn more, search for those too
Project management - You can find a course for how to be a PM and how to manage projects.
Business analytics - An intro course here would be good too.

For all of these, it begins by finding material to learn about it. Then once you have learned, you can practice applying the concepts to wherever you can in your life. As you continue to practice, you will continue to notice yourself improve!
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Anthony E.’s Answer

Hello Gabriel,

My initial observation is you are very serious about pursuing the technical aspects of your chosen field, which is admirable. I'd like to focus my response on the latter comments of Adam's answer. The behavioral qualities and skills required for success are often given far less weight than they deserve. The ability to build and maintain strong, strategic relationships is essential for all career growth.

Hiring managers do not necessarily choose the most technically qualified individual for a position. It is important you are in alignment with their company vision and core beliefs. You want to be a person the current team, and your supervisor, would want to spend eight-to-ten hours a day working alongside. You may consider giving, at least, equal time to your personal development. Acquiring excellent communication skills, understanding the importance of empathy in the workplace, knowing your own value and, I believe most importantly, gaining the confidence to be your authentic self. You may have all the knowledge and ability in the world. The truth is, if nobody wants to get it from you it is not very valuable.

Please note, I am not implying you are not already doing these things. It is my area of expertise, so it is where I focused my answer.

I hope this helps,
Anthony

Anthony E. recommends the following next steps:

Research some of the may self-development analysis ad tools available, such as the DISC profile, Myers & Briggs assessment, Strength Finder, iEQ9.
Pick the one that most strongly resonates with you. My new personal choice is the iEQ9 assessment that helps you develop a very specific personal development plan.
Consider a personal development coach.
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