Engineering school graduates may hold a great variety of positions. They share one common denominator: a capacity to solve complex technical problems thanks to scientific skills. Behavioural skills are also essential to complete projects. What skills are needed to become a successful engineer?
In a international and ever-evolving world, society and individuals expect new skills from engineers. They used to be mainly scientific and technological but they have gradually turned into competences linked to finance, business, management or law to name but a few.
Behavioural skills or soft skills have become more important as well. Being able to reason with intellectual rigour remains essential, however, it is no longer enough!
Rigour and organisation
Rigour, organisation, precise reasoning and methodology are must-have skills for an engineer, for they guarantee coming up with reliable solutions in the respect of deadlines and rules. Any error could be highly prejudicial to a project, this is why it is essential to respect processes and keep detail-oriented so as to keep all scenarios in mind.
A good organisation is compulsory in order to finish a task successfully within a due date, especially since engineers often are in charge of projects from A to Z.
Dedication is another essential quality, as an engineer must be able to adapt to all situations.
Team spirit and communication
Engineers often work in teams. As a consequence, they must show team spirit and they must be able to convey their ideas orally or in writing. They must be able to stand up for their ideas and present their results efficiently.
The ability to transcribe technical jargon into something everyone may understand also is decisive.
Engineers must be able to bring their coworkers’ ideas towards one goal.
With this in mind, engineers must be able to listen as much as express their opinions. They must be tactful, patient and show negotiation skills with colleagues and clients.
Engineers must be genuinely interested in management (whether for projects, budgets or teams…) and foreign languages including English. Indeed, participating in world-scale projects often implies working with teams from various professional and cultural backgrounds or with suppliers, service providers or clients from foreign countries.
Curiosity and open-mindedness
Engineers work in evolving environments, adaptability to other cultures is then essential. Their tasks are diverse: team management, analysis, problem solving, result transmission, etc. Reactivity and curiosity are useful skills to reach these goals.
For all engineers, one objective: innovate to improve, whatever the domain. They must consequently keep themselves informed of all technological evolutions. They must have both a logical and a creative mind. Moreover, they must not be afraid of taking risks when facing an unexpected situation.
Engineers must have an excellent vision of their domains and be capable of evolving. Changing specialty or cultural and technical environment, getting promoted or work in another organisation should not be a problem.
If you do not own these skills, rest assured: you may learn and reinforce them in engineering school, in the classroom and during group projects, work placements and academic exchanges abroad. Also, getting involved in a student association is an occasion to manage a budget, a team, etc. Many qualities that will enrich your resume and have you stand out. Learning new skills is an everyday challenge for engineers!
Learn more about the educational project of ESILV, engineering school in Paris.