Five things that can make you a better employee faster than everyone else

What do we do when we graduate from an undergraduate school? We either work full-time or we pretend to work; either way, being primarily responsible for every outcome in our lives. The journey that extends from two to four years of our undergraduate studies has a marked effect in shaping the type of professional that we will become in the future. But do we realize its importance?

I don’t know, at-least I am sure that I didn’t at the time (reasons are many). However, the students who did realize its importance were the ones who increased the probable chance of them becoming a better and more ‘industry ready’ employee than people like myself.

Credits: altmaninsurance.wordpress.com

Credits: altmaninsurance.wordpress.com

Being an engineering graduate for the last three years, I have experienced many facets of the industry, both good and bad. Compiled below are a snapshot of five areas/pieces of advice that I normally outline to juniors and those looking to progress themselves within the industry.

  1. Creating, developing and managing a start-up

I believe every student should try creating and working on a start-up project while being undergraduate. The resultant success or failure is inconsequential, rather the experience alone will assist you in understanding business dynamics and how companies work. Terms like business plans, strategies, profit/loss, financial rations, shares/equity will become part of your lexicon.  The benefits of undertaking such activities is limitless. It will give you a deeper understanding of what it takes to run a company and the importance and value of time and money and the correlation between them both.

Credits: blog.asmartbear.com

Credits: blog.asmartbear.com

  1. Volunteering Officer Experience

My second piece of advice is to not underestimate the worth of volunteering experience. When I was in my undergraduate program, I was told to take part in local society/clubs and specifically IEEE student branch activities and programs to widen my experiences throughout my degree. Whilst I found these experiences emotionally beneficial, the leadership skills generated and refined cannot be denied.

Just by involving yourself into your IEEE Student branch, be it in a formal Chair position or even a committee member, such leadership skills are continuously being fostered.  Having an understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader and the associated best practices to demonstrate this can have a marked effect at shaping the path of your own career.

  1. Everyone can work, but not everyone is good at communicating

I wish, I could write a whole book on this topic, but already there are many published and available in the market emphasizing the importance of this characteristic. Being good at talking and communicating effectively can make you stand out in front of your office colleagues, even when your job role is purely technical in nature. You might wonder, what makes me a better employee if I am good at talking? – Consider this opportunity, and trust me it is a real time case where I have seen people realizing and accepting this bitter truth.

Let’s say there is a company called “Mango” which produces cellphones and similar products. You are a R&D Engineer or a Product Manager and you, alongside dozens of other team members, are working on this new software/product/project. You all work tirelessly on the project, and you put in extra hours because somehow your supervisor (who was in-fact good at talking), motivated you effectively that now you own this software/product/project and you take a sense of pride and ownership over it. Finally, you along with your team have made it and now the company is considering sending some employees to Silicon Valley where delegates will talk on its features and promote it as much as they can. Here, the one with acceptable technical skills and a great effective communication skills would be preferred over someone who is only technologically savvy. Why? Because at the end, it’s the talking that matters.

Credits: patlearningplace.com

Credits: patlearningplace.com

Why waste time on polishing your speaking skills after you have finished graduating? These skills should be enriched and developed throughout your education!

Ways to improve your communication skills can include actively participating in IEEE Student branch/Local section events and partaking or joining professional organisations such as Toastmasters etc.

  1. Writing is as important as speaking

When it comes to writing a formal email, or a preparing a project report or writing an application to a client/manager/supervisor, it seems that many talented individuals feel helpless to do so. It’s not that you cannot write it, or you do not know how to write it, it’s all about practice. The more you do the faster you will improve and better yourself at it.

It is often very important that your language skills are of a high standard as little subtleties such as tone and message can often be misconstrued in the written form. Sending vague electronic emails are a typical example in the industry that can lead to potential problems for workers and managers alike.

  1. Internships: As much as you can

Attaining an internship in your Summer or Winter gaps is very important, as it offers you a chance to work and recognize the rules and techniques of being a full professional employee in a national or multi-national organization. Care less about the company and what it does but join it with the aim to feel a corporate responsibility and immerse yourself into the organizational environment. Focus more on learning from an individual rather than company itself.

Credits: austincollege.edu

Credits: austincollege.edu

I have seen students in the past trying to get an internship and not joining-in because the company profile is low or it is not of their interest. What they completely miss out on is the point where they can study human behavior, office politics (surely most of them do have) and working cycle that can open-up new dimensions and can yield thoughts to see avenues that they haven’t seen before in their professional life. Get into internships as much as you can. I completed four internships and every company had a different culture, environment and learnings.  I also met some very intellectual people working for the various companies whom I still connect with to this day. The networking opportunities and gateways that are opened up are endless.

 

Consider your undergraduate time the most valuable phase of your life, where if you indulged into activities and programs that can nurture your personal and professional development, the results and benefits once you graduate are limitless.

Try to foresee your future by investing your time, energy and efforts into something that can grow as an asset for you in future. Don’t just spend your time, invest in it.

Article contributed by Sarang Shaikh, Editor, IEEE Impact

Articled edited by Michael Gough, IEEE Impact

Young Professionals at TENCON 2015

The Young Professionals track for the IEEE Region 10 Conference, TENCON 2015 started with the session on “Rejuvenating Young Professionals” by Mr. Ranjit R. Nair, IEEE Region 10 Young Professionals Coordinator. During his session, Ranjit emphasized the benefits of being a Young Professional in IEEE and how IEEE can be beneficial to them. He cited examples of various young professionals across the globe who have been active IEEE members and benefited very much by contributing to technology and society. Special mention was given to members in academia and how to leverage the benefits from IEEE. There was also a discussion about the need for a Young Professionals Affinity group in each section and how a local affinity group can provide benefit to members.

The Next session was a talk by Dr.S.N.Singh on the topic “Opportunities for Academics in Industry”. With his vast industry experience and then being an academic serving at various institutes, elaborated on the needs of engineers from each area and how Industry Academia linkage can promote research. He cited examples on how we can promote the linkage between academics and industry. During his talk, he elaborated the need for academics to raise up to the current industry standard so as to take part in projects from industry. There was good interaction during the Q&A session on various challenges faced by academics to involve Industry and possible ways to resolve these.

tencon

This was followed by a Discussion on “How Academics can leverage benefits of IEEE”. There was a fruitful discussion between the speakers and the delegates. IEEE 2017 President, Ms.Karen Bartleson was also present and contributed significantly to the discussions. Some of the major discussion points and suggestions raised are described in the next paragraph.

Dr.S. N. Singh suggested promoting Young Professionals and spreading more awareness to local sections especially with those who do not have an Affinity Group. Young Professionals awareness has to be made as a main track in the conferences. Mr. MGPL Narayana, R10 Vice Chair, stressed on the need for career opportunities and mentioned about the India strategic initiative programs. Jithin Krishnan, EMBS Young Professional volunteer, suggested having tool based training programs. Karen Bartleson, IEEE President Elect 2016 pointed out that even though technology changes every couple of years, the institutional curriculum changes only once in seven or eight years, she emphasized the need to have a dynamic structure so that the course curriculum come at par with changing technologies. Anil Kumar C. V., PhD resource scholar suggested that increasing the number of free downloads of IEEE papers help students (especially graduate students) in their research work. This will help reduce the economic constraints faced by the members from developing nations.

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Mr.Ajin Baby, Chair, IEEE Kerala Young Professionals AG, pointed out that Government and Universities have to be convinced to promote entrepreneurship. Programs like GDP boot and employment opportunities can be conducted to promote this. The units should provide a sandbox environment for interested students to try out entrepreneurship so that they can pursue the same. Ms. Preethy V. Warrier, Secretary WIE Kerala Section, shared her industrial experience, being a Young Professional and also suggested a method to promote women in the field of engineering. Identifying the reasons that are pulling back young girls from entering the world of technology after their graduation, finding out solutions and implementing them will provide more opportunities to them. Dr. Paul Chen, Chair of IEEE Macau Section expressed willingness to start a Young Professionals Affinity group after hearing about the benefits.

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The discussion led to opening the doors of opportunities for members as well as other students and professionals. The session came to a close with a group photograph of the attendees and speakers. The event was realized with support from Region 10 and MGA Young Professionals Committee.

Article contributed by Ranjit Nair, IEEE Region 10 Young Professionals Coordinator

Being a Young Professional in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Today we had the privileged of speaking to Dusanka Boskovic to learn about one of the smaller but very active IEEE groups based in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Can you tell our readers about the IEEE Section in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The IEEE Section in Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded in 2005, and we are now celebrating our 10th anniversary.  We are a relatively small section, with approximately 300 stable members. Although the majority of our members are members of the Computer Society and the ComSoc, we have also very active Chapters linked to the Power & Energy, the Industrial Applications, and the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Societies. The Chapter’s activities focus around organizing technical meetings with interesting and motivating lecturers. We try to be regular in making use of the ‘Distinguished Lecturer Program’, and bringing to our members recognized experts and topics on emerging technologies.

Since our members are mainly from academia, we are engaged in technical co-sponsorship of our local conferences, with motivation to improve their quality.  We were also bringing some prominent IEEE conferences to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a region.Our Student Branches and YPAG are in addition to technical activities, engaged in organizing workshops related to soft skills, and also social events, technical excursions and competitions.

STEP Visit to PowerUtility Company

STEP Visit to PowerUtility Company

Tell us about the Young Professionals group in BiH and their activity

Young Professionals AG were the organizer of some very interesting and popular training, focusing mainly on communication skills and emotional intelligence. They are motivated in helping students to make easier careers starts and they organize students’ visits to major companies, panel discussions related to job opportunities and career development.  Such activities are performed in co-operation and conjunction with our Chapters.

What are some of the key achievements of the IEEE in BiH?

Providing a framework for motivated volunteers to work together and make better conditions for engineering professionals in our society. With the IEEE we have access to relevant publications and are in touch with distinguished professionals from all around the world. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Section was a proud host for the Region 8 Committee Meeting in Sarajevo in 2013.

We are especially proud with the achievements of our students. The IAS SBC University of Sarajevo received in 2014 IEEE Region 8 Student Chapter of the Year Award, and several awards from the IAS, most recently as 2nd Most Happening Chapter globally. The PES SBC University of Sarajevo was also declared as Outstanding Student Branch Chapter in the PES. Our programmers are regular participants of the IEEEXtreme, and for many years were positioned among the top 25 teams.

Active on campus

Active on campus

For me the most important achievement was a chance for our students to measure up with their peers and build their confidence in their knowledge and their abilities.

Our Section is continually sponsoring participation in the Region 8 and Cross-section Students and Young Professionals Congresses, where they can enjoy being a part of the large community of engineering students.

Can you tell us about any upcoming and exciting initiatives?

There are two important projects that our students and YPs are engaged with:

  • Construction of a “Solar tree” at Campus University of Sarajevo, which will be used for battery charging, and also for analysis of the solar energy potentials.
Solar Tree project at University of Sarajevo

Solar Tree project at University of Sarajevo

  • Smart home project, recently launched, for which our SB was awarded funding from the IEEE and our Federal Ministry of Science and Education.

We plan for several PA trainings for YP members related to project management and writing project proposals.

BiH went through a terrible war in the early to mid 1990’s which left the country devastated.  Can you tell us a little about how an organization such as the IEEE can help rebuild relationships amongst ethnic groups and provide a platform for the betterment of youth?

The role of an organization such as the IEEE is very important to help us recognize our abilities, capacity for development and building connections with our peers worldwide. This is especially significant for our students and young professionals to have possibility to build their skills and competences.   The difficulties that these young people are facing during their education and in their careers are linked to devastation of industry and economy, lack of the resources,  and these difficulties are the same, all around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Young Professionals and Students Celebrate IEEE day in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Young Professionals and Students Celebrate IEEE day in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

With activities in our Section we try to facilitate our members in joint actions to bridge these gaps and overcome these difficulties. It is very important when these efforts are recognized and awarded, especially by Societies through their Chapters, as focal points of technical activities.

Anything else you would like to add?

We are very proud of achievements of our students and young professional members, but there are so many projects and ideas ahead of us. We would like with these activities to attract our young professionals to stay with us, with the IEEE , and to be able to offer to them support through the different stages of their career.

About Dusanka

Dušanka Bošković completed her tertiary education at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she is currently an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. Before joining the University, Dušanka was working on software development for embedded systems for Energoinvest – Institute for Computer and Information Systems (IRIS).  Currently, she is teaching human computer interaction and biomedical engineering, and was the founding President for the Bosnia and Herzegovina National Association for Biomedical Engineering. In addition to teaching and research, Dušanka has been engaged in several projects promoting accreditation activities to improve quality of engineering education in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dusanka Boskovic at CERN

Dusanka Boskovic at CERN