COVID-19 has up-ended our society and left graduates with many questions as they enter the job market in the summer of 2020. It was not that long ago that we had a generation that entered a similar job market situation during the Great Recession. For the moment, the future may look bleak, but know that we will rebound. To make yourself more competitive, there are ways to brush up on your knowledge, learn some extra skills, and pad your resume. Our recommendations below are geared toward the civil engineering industry but are applicable to any industry.
The civil engineering industry, just like many industries, is evolving rapidly. There is still a baseline that you need to have your bachelor’s degree to obtain professional licensure. Beyond that, there is a change in thought that the skills you possess are more valuable than how many certifications you hold. Below is a list of resources that graduates can use during this downtime to gain experience or knowledge to make them more competitive when entering the job market.
TRADE GROUPS ONLINE
Many trade groups have unlocked a portion of their webinars for the next few months. Many people are using them to gain extra professional development hours to apply to licensing requirements. Recent graduates can use these to gain knowledge of the industry. The following list is compiled of some resources that recent civil engineering graduates could tap into to gain some extra knowledge:
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI)
- American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC)
- American Water Works Association (AWWA)
- Water Environment Federation (WEF)
GOVERNMENT AGENCY WEBSITES
As a company, we do work for the Ohio Department of Transportation, the West Virginia Department of Highways, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation among others. Below is a list of their web addresses. Many of these agencies offer free online webinars and have a list of their state specification manuals. For example, the Ohio Department of Transportation Office of Structural Engineering has things like their PowerPoint slides listed for their LRFD bridge design trainings available, their Bridge Design Manual, Skewed Bridge Training, etc. Use these websites to gain knowledge of references you will use in your upcoming career.
- Ohio Department of Transportation
- West Virginia Department of Highways
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Federal Highway Administration
LEARN A NEW PROGRAM
Our industry uses a mix of programs, some of the programs are freeware and some of the programs are fee based commercial software. We provided a list of a few free design software programs. Additionally, take a risk and call a company to see if you can get a 30-day trial to evaluate the software. The two most common drafting programs in Civil Engineering are AutoCAD and MicroStation. They will be the two most common programs new civil graduates use coming out of school. If you can get a jumpstart on learning one or both programs, you will be ahead of the game.
GAIN A NEW SKILL
Most undergraduate engineering programs lack one common skill that is critical for entry level engineering employees. They need to have a general understanding of the economics of an engineering firm and how businesses function. Additionally, there are other free courses that a recent graduate could take to make them more desirable. Below are some free resources on economics, finance, and other general free trainings that could be done during your time off.
We hope you find these resources useful. The coming months will be challenging but leverage this time to gain a new skill and develop your network. This will help you when you go interview for a job and to help pad your resume. Good luck and stay safe!
About the Author: Michael Vogt is a Project Manager for E.L. Robinson Engineering in their Columbus, Ohio office. He holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the Ohio State University along with an MBA. He is fascinated by how politics, economics, and business intertwine to run the world. Feel free to reach out to him with any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The resources provided is not a complete list of resources that job candidates can use to gain new skills. Be creative and have fun in your new skill development.
E.L. Robinson and their employees are not being compensated by any of the listed companies or resources for providing the above information.