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If you were to ask students randomly why they want to be an engineer, you’ll hear things like, “My parents told me that I would earn a lot of money if I became an engineer” or “My school teacher said I would never be out of a job during bad economic times” or “I feel good when I tell people that I want to be an engineer.”

Most students have no clue about the exact reason behind their choice. With such a hullabaloo around the engineering profession these days, parents, teachers, counselors, business people, and even the government are recommending it to anybody and everybody. As a result, more and more students are shouting, “I want to be an engineer!”

Let me pause for a moment and ask you one question honestly: “Why do you think you want to do that?” Is it to get the fame associated with an IIT tag, or to get the best opportunities available in the country? Are you running after it only because others are doing the same? Well, you seriously need to answer some of these questions before choosing your career path, as there are several other equally good career options to choose from.

Important Qualities

Before we move on to the details, here’s a quick look at some of the important qualities that you will need in order to be successful in engineering.

  • Good communication skills
  • Work well within a team
  • Motivated and willing to take initiative
  • Adaptable to changing conditions
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Strong computer skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Detail-oriented

If you answer is yes to most of these questions, then there’s a good chance that a career in engineering is an excellent match for your skills – and that you do have what it takes to earn your degree in engineering.

Take This Quiz

Now, take some time and think about the following questions.

  • Do you like to solve problems?
  • Do you like math and science?
  • Do you like to think of new ways to do things?
  • Do you like puzzles and other mind challenging games?
  • Do you like working with computers?
  • Do you enjoy a challenge?

If you answered in the affirmative to several or more of these questions, the engineering profession is worth exploring further. After all, engineers solve challenges that improve the lives of people and make a difference in the world.

Understanding the Criticality

Personal exposure is certainly useful for any career, but it is especially important for students who want to become engineering majors. Whether you opt for mechanical, electrical, or another area, undergraduate engineering programs are very structured from the moment you start college. It is important for you to understand that engineering majors can be very demanding, and sometimes take five years to complete. It’s almost impossible to shift from a non-engineering major and transfer to an engineering one. Therefore, before you start applying to colleges, it’s imperative to know something about engineering as a field, what an engineer does and why you want to go into that major.

Talk to Practising Engineers

Ask your teachers if they know any engineers in the city and get the names, email addresses and phone numbers for as many engineers as you can. Check with your parents, relatives, and friends if they can think of anyone. If you can’t manage to get any information, just do a Google search for your hometown, e.g., “Bio-engineers in Delhi,” and see what emerges. Here are a few things you could ask these engineers to better understand the profession:

  • What led you to choose engineering as your career?
  • What do you like about your job? What do you dislike?
  • What is your day like from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night?
  • What kinds of interests did you have as a child/teen?
  • What advice do you have for me?

Keep on talking to engineers until you have a real sense of whether this is a good field for you.

Most importantly, majoring in something that you are passionate about is just the obvious thing to do. Think about it! If you like what you do, you’ll have more fun, a richer experience and be less likely to drop out of college.

Now, here’s my special message for parents: Please, relax! Understand your children’s abilities and inclination before pressurizing him/her to take up engineering.

You can also read about how parents can help their children prepare for entrance exams here.

What are your thoughts? Please use the comment box below to let us know.

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