What Prototyping Can Teach Us About Engineering Career Planning

What Prototyping Can Teach Us About Engineering Career Planning

“Your success in your career will be in direct proportion to what you do after you’ve done what you are expected to do.” – Brian Tracy

I know a lot of engineers and other tech workers who are dissatisfied with their jobs. They have a sense of being stuck or unfulfilled, lacking direction, low confidence in their skills, or their values don’t match those of the organization they are a part of.

If you are experiencing any of these feelings, making changes is essential for you to advance and grow. The process of making those necessary changes, however, can also feel daunting and uncertain.

Yet you must take action, even small and imperfect action. Your career is a continuous process that requires planning and activity.

Career Planning

Engineers, through their training and experience, are often excellent planners of work and projects.

Even though the process to plan your own career may feel quite different than planning an engineering project, you can use many of the same principles.

For example, you can spend some time clarifying what the end goal is. What do you want achieve? What is your hypothesis you want to test? 

You might then determine your methods. What actions will you take? How will you collect your data? How will you know you’re on track?

Then, as you take action, you must iterate through the experience. It’s similar to creating prototypes in engineering work.

Prototype Forward

Prototypes are not finished products, but rather iterations that can provide useful data and testing opportunities to make sure you’re on the right track.

You can prototype your career too.

You can try a new role, take on a side project, or shadow someone doing a job you are curious about. Consider each stage of your career a prototype. You’re not a finished project, you’re just in a current iteration. 

Look at what you like and don’t like, decide on what you want to shift and try, and iterate towards your next “prototype” in your career.

Career Iteration

Life, like engineering, is a series of iterations as we work towards our goals.

You will continue to change, develop, and grow over the course of your career. Thus, the work and impact you deliver should grow and develop as well!

As you go through various steps in your career, you can consider a simplified Scientific Method as you go through various iterations: Hypothesis, Experiment, and Analysis.

Have a hypothesis or something you want to try. Then, take action while considering it an “experiment.” Just because you do something for a while doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. Finally, run the “analysis” and collect data about what worked and what didn’t. 

Then do it again.

Be Intentional

As you go through these prototypes and iterations in your career, you should be intentional. Sure, sometimes opportunities will come to you that you will want to try out, but also be proactive to look for work and skills you want to try. 

Moment by moment and step by step, you’ll find direction in your career and uncover the mission you are meant to fulfill.

Watch more in the video below:

Accelerate Your Career

If you’re ready to accelerate your career and leadership further and want some help doing it, here are a few ways I can help when you’re ready:

  1. Watch a FREE Engineering Career Masterclass – the 4 Keys to Intentional Engineering Career Transitions
  2. Enroll in the Engineering Career Accelerator – the exact system that hundreds of engineers have used to go from confused to thriving in their careers.
  3. Schedule a free call with me to talk about getting personalized 1:1 and group support on your goals.