Making the transition from classroom to career

I’ve been working at CE Solutions for a little over three months now, and during that time, I have reflected on what has helped make the transition easier as my path changed from a structural engineering student to a structural engineering professional.

Both new employees and the companies that hire them are responsible for creating smooth transitions from the classroom to the workplace. Two-way communication, adaptability and transparency can go a long way in easing the transition. Like with all life experiences, there will inevitably be bumps in the road, but addressing them immediately can help prevent them from developing into larger issues. It’s not just a matter of the new employee completing assigned tasks, but becoming a new member of the team.

If you represent the hiring company, it’s important to:

  • Strike a balance between structure and freedom. Too much freedom may cause your new employee to feel aimless and uncertain, while too much structure may cause him or her to feel limited. This balance will be different for every new employee; someone out of college may be used to structure from classes and would appreciate it, but others may resent it. Pick a starting point and adjust accordingly based on the new employee’s comfort and competence.
  • Communicate expectations for the new hire. Include considerations like company culture and technical style (drafting or design), and provide clear office standards from which the newly hired employee can work. All the while, be open to new ideas or suggestions the new employee might have regarding improvements to the office standards and practices.

If you’re a new employee, it’s important to:

  • Refer to examples from projects the company has completed in the past. This will help familiarize you with company’s methodology while allowing you to think about ways to improve upon what has been done in the past. Since the methodology will be fresh and new, you might be able to find areas that could be potentially improved moving forward.
  • Be clear in your work, your thought process and how you make decisions.  This not only allows senior employees to more easily review what you’ve done, but allows them to think about how their personal methods may have changed and evolved over time.
Boltz (2).jpg

What tips do you have for making the transition easier? Feel free to comment and let us know what you think! 

Nathan Boltz, EI