Broadening Your Business Education as an Engineer

Throughout your university years, you probably devoted most of your time and attention to core engineering and STEM classes. To engineers, everything else is an elective, something to add breadth to your college experience, but not necessarily coursework that lent depth to your education as an engineer. For most real-world engineering jobs, though, a background in business can be almost as useful as your industry education. Being more effective in corporate settings is essential for engineers who hope to run their own businesses someday, but it’s also a good idea for those who are just starting on the career ladder.

Why You Need Business Basics

It’s exceedingly rare for engineers to work in a vacuum. Generally, your work borders on at least one or two other territories in the continent that is your company. IT for analytics, the finance department for your budget, the HR office to help hire new candidates and the executive branch to give your work direction are just a few of the disciplines that directly affect what you do. You can only communicate effectively with these departments if you understand about how they operate and what they handle.

Think of your knowledge as T-shaped: deep in one area but broad across its surface. By developing some understanding laterally with multiple departments while deepening your subject knowledge, you become vastly more valuable to employers, too. An engineer who can communicate a concept effectively with other departments is also one who’s more effective at giving projects more direction.

Bringing Intellectual Rigor to the Table

Your company also needs you to bring your precision, analytical thought processes and organization to your communication with other departments. While you’re learning how the marketing department finds new prospects and convinces people to buy, the CMO benefits from deeper data analysis and new ways to quantify information. This symbiotic relationship enhances every department and maximizes your value within your organization.

Engineers often excel as business leaders when they venture into the field because of their unique skill-set, yet professional managers now occupy most C-level executive positions. A leader needs certain traits, many of which engineers have in spades; a goal-oriented mindset, an ability to align disparate systems and an openness to letting data drive decisions are just a few. Other skills such as managing people, finding top talent and inspiring trust come with experience or can get a boost from key personnel.

Simulating Business Skill

Engineers are intimately familiar with running realistic, detailed models and simulations of real-world experiences. One way to hone your business acumen is through coursework that puts you in a virtual office environment. Internet-based simulations that give you a firm foundation in business fundamentals accustom you to financial reporting, large-scale project management, business plans, supply chains, marketing, inter-departmental communication and other essentials. By viewing business as an integrated part of what you do via courses that let you experience it for yourself; business classes for engineers are a wise investment of your time.

Becoming a Better Value

Sometimes the thing that separates you from the thousands of other engineering graduates competing for the same small group of plum jobs is who you are. You’re always going to be up against others who do your work as well as you can do it – or possibly does it better. Business classes that integrate your engineering experience with real-world office acumen give you a distinct advantage over graduates who just viewed their elective coursework as something to fill in around their core curricula.

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