AIChE Conference Highlight – The First Five Years

June 15, 2021

“Once you get into the working world, there are so many other definitions of success outside of your GPA.”
– Austin Lin

ASC20 AIChE Annual Student Conference“The First Five Years” was a panel discussion at the 2020 AIChE Annual Student Conference that the AIChE Management Division sponsored.  The first five years of your career are about adapting, transitioning, and transforming:

  • Change from working student to working professional
  • Success is no longer measured in grades, but “performance”
  • There is no single pathway to success, even within the same job title and industry

To successfully adjust to being a professional, it is vital to learn to work across teams and disciplines. During school, you can be hyper focused on one topic for a length of time, but in industry it is important to involve every stakeholder to be successful. Often your performance is based on your team’s performance, so ensuring that those around you have everything they need from you to be successful themselves is vital to your own success.

To measure success in the workplace, lean heavily on conversations with superiors and great goals for yourself to provide a checklist to measure yourself against. Try to find a mentor (someone who is not your boss) with whom you can discuss your work and who can provide you with constructive feedback. This person may be a formal mentor through your company’s mentorship program, but it does not have to be. You can reach out to someone you recognize as high performing. Asking people for feedback on your performance can go a long way.

When asked “What career advice would you give to the student version of yourself?”, one panelist said to try other things outside of engineering to develop your soft skills, such as communications or psychology. Developing yourself holistically as a person will inevitably put you on a path to success in the professional environment. Afterall, you are not working with only engineers. You are working with business professionals, project managers, operations, etc. You must be able to communicate effectively and create buy-in to your ideas for them to be implemented.

By: Clayton Dickerson