Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.
I often have discussions with students and young professionals about career and study choices. This is a big decision and it can certainly seem overwhelming. Education is costly and funds may be hard to find, let alone additional money to allow for a change in direction if one discovers that one's initial choice does not work out.
One is also expected to make this decision with relatively little life experience, often while still in school. I am definitely not a trained career counselor, but I do have the benefit of more than two decades in the engineering field. I have also worked on three continents and in various companies and industries. Allow me to share some areas for consideration.
1.Conduct your research as broadly as possible. The more traditional areas of engineering are certainly electrical or electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering and industrial engineering. Computer engineering and engineering technology are fairly new additions to the stable. There are also other types, which are sometimes classified as sub sets of the more traditional types, or fields of study on their own. These include bio engineering, environmental engineering, petrochemical engineering, mining engineering or even aerospace engineering.
2.I believe the future of engineering will most likely be in fields that can provide sustainable energy and renewable resources, so these are likely to become high demand fields in the near future.
3.Engineering studies can be combined with many other fields. These can include things like medicine, genetics, forestry, marine biology, physics, applied mathematics and computer science. All these lead to varied and interesting skill combinations that can open doors to interesting career paths.
4.Many engineers feel the need to improve their commercial, financial or management knowledge after they have gained some basic engineering experience. This could include a higher degree Engineering Management, general Business or management studies, and MBA or one of various certifications (such as that of Project Manager). A few years of work experience can help shape preferences, so it might be wise to work for a few years after graduation before embarking on further studies. I have combined Chemical Engineering, Process Control Engineering, Business and Project Management and I like the direction it has taken me in.
5.Consider likely work locations in your choice of study. Certain fields of engineering are tied to specific types of locations. For Chemical Engineering, or Petrochemical Engineering, one is often most marketable in areas that have natural oil or energy resources. Certain types of Civil Engineering require frequent travel to large projects and can include considerable time on location. This can be a positive or a negative point, depending on one's own preference, but also the stage of one's life.
6.Certain areas of engineering lend itself better to being an independent consultant or a small consultancy. I have certainly seen smaller civil engineering companies than small independent chemical engineering companies. It seems to me that certain types of engineering are better suited to larger corporations.
I hope this has provided some thinking points on this very important question. Look out for a follow up blog on related topics.