Staying Ahead of the Field: The Importance of Soft Skills in Engineering (By Young Members Committee)

Engineering has become an exciting, multi-disciplinary industry. Projects are bigger, more complicated, and involve different professions including architects, planners, lawyers, and accountants, just to name a few. Not only must you be knowledgeable in your own specialisation, general knowledge of other professions is necessary for projects to run smoothly and successfully. Furthermore, communication, leadership, and other soft skills are essentials for working well with multi-disciplinary teams.

oining the engineering industry may seem daunting to young graduates just starting off their careers.  Those coming from university are often technically excellent; unfortunately, nowadays this isn't enough to make you stand out from the crowd.  Aside from technical prowess, employers are looking for individuals with highly developed soft skills who are team players to get the job done.  The ability to work well with others is vital to the success of engineering projects and your career.  

As a young engineer, one way to develop these soft skills early on in your career is to become involved with the young engineers' group of the largest professional engineering institution in Hong Kong, the Young Members Committee of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE-YMC).  The HKIE-YMC organizes various activities specifically for young members, defined as members of the HKIE who are at or below the age of 35.  

Expand your knowledge

Learning doesn't stop when you graduate from university.  Keeping abreast of the latest industry practices and innovations will help you understand the industry's current issues and its way forward.  The HKIE-YMC organizes technical seminars and visits that cater to our young engineers, covering all 21 main disciplines of engineering of Hong Kong.  As our activities give priority to young members, we are able to create a comfortable learning environment with our peers.  If you are ever curious about disciplines other than your own, our events are also suitable for those who are uninitiated, as it provides a setting where young engineers are free to ask questions without feeling like they are asking something stupid – someone else is probably wanting to ask that very same question!  Besides technical knowledge, HKIE-YMC is committed to organizing activities that aim to develop your soft skills.  Whether you want to improve your public speaking, professional writing, or leadership skills, we have an activity for it!  

Improve your skills and conquer your weaknesses

Signing up for our events is the first step to enhancing your skill set.  But to really get the most out of HKIE-YMC, there is no better way than to get involved and put those skills to use.

Later on in your career, you will need to start going to meetings and working with professionals from other companies.  Before you are thrown into the deep end, take the time to learn from your peers and gain confidence in exercising your soft skills.  The HKIE-YMC organises over 100 activities each year and we could not do this without the teamwork of our helpers, who are needed every step of the way to deliver quality activities for our "clients" – our young engineers.  The process is very similar to the delivery of engineering projects, except on a more comfortable scale.  By actively organising events, you will be able to practice your soft skills and learn to overcome any weaknesses in a supportive environment.

Keep your opportunities open

By organising activities and attending various networking opportunities, you will meet peers and seniors from different companies and specialisations within the industry and from other professions.  You may think that networking is only for business owners and senior members of the company to schmooze and increase business, but networking is also a valuable way to expand your knowledge and learn from others.  

Networking events are great opportunities to get to know people who you may never get a chance to meet otherwise.  They are also not as scary as you think!  Everyone who goes to networking events all have a similar goal: to talk to other people.  Being curious and inquisitive is part of an engineer's nature, and getting to know people in other professions will help you understand how projects work as a whole and the "bigger picture".  This will benefit you greatly as you start to work with others outside of the engineering industry.

Relationships aren't formed overnight, but a good way to quickly build up rapport is through shared experiences.  Organising activities and "putting yourself out there" help you gain exposure and can open doors of opportunity in your near future.

Build your career in engineering

HKIE-YMC aims to provide a platform for you to get to know other young engineers who share similar aims and interests, to promote engineering, and to organize technical and social activities.  Being involved can enable you to understand your own strengths and talents, and to identify career opportunities through interactions with people from all engineering disciplines and non-engineering perspectives from planning to execution.  Whether you are looking to make new friends or to gain a better foothold as you climb the corporate ladder, you will find what you are looking for by exploring opportunities with HKIE-YMC.

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