Where human resources are concerned, employers expect efficiency, productivity, and value—just about the same things, in fact, that they would expect from any other resource in which they invest. While assessing an employee’s value isn’t nearly as straightforward as, say, determining the value of a piece of equipment, there are a few traits that can serve as hallmarks of a good hire. For an engineer, these will include a solid educational background, technical aptitude, inventiveness, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail. These are, however, not the be-all and end-all of a successful career in engineering.
One attribute that is fast growing in value among employers is an entrepreneurial mindset, the ability to recognize and grab hold of business opportunities. This, among other things, was what Lawrence Technological University senior Ashley Meade had to offer and what proved to be a key asset during her internship at Central Conveyor Company.
Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network’s new publication KEEN’zine covered Meade’s story in their debut issue. The feature, titled “Identifying Business Opportunities as an Intern” described how Meade, when tasked to put together a basic report on equipment health, went above and beyond the call of duty and created a brand new reporting process—a tool that the company now hopes to include as a standard feature in future assessments.
In business, value-added service translates to better client relationships. It takes a different type of thought process to come up with innovative answers to needs that are as yet un-felt. In Meade’s case, her unorthodox approach to the project was doubly advantageous, as it resulted in a valuable service which none of Central Conveyor’s competitors provided.
Meade believes that LTU’s early emphasis on entrepreneurial engineering was critical in developing her ability to see the big picture. During the course of her internship, she worked on projects not only for Central Conveyor’s engineering department, but also with vendors, other engineering firms, and the people in charge of project management, fabrication, purchasing, and estimating. Her seeing the big picture meant that she took these individual projects as opportunities to be mentored and to collaborate with coworkers.
Meade is fortunate in having been exposed to the entrepreneurial school of thought early in her undergraduate engineering education, but this doesn’t mean that other students or professionals cannot acquire the same competitive edge for themselves. Online engineering degree programs are a useful tool for new graduates and full-time working professionals hoping to find increasing relevance in real-world industries.
LTU offers several online master’s of engineering degree programs. These programs were designed to develop technical proficiency as well as business acumen and leadership skills among students. They emphasize the kind of multi-faceted expertise Meade demonstrated at Central Conveyor.
At the end of the day, it is the worker with a willingness to commit to ongoing education who will walk away with a guarantee of becoming a future industry leader.