Stantec offers tips for ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’

Tina Grady Barbaccia

February 18, 2011

Anita Shanker
Anita Shanker

As a leader in her company, Stantec’s Phoenix Engineer Anita Shanker knows first-hand that engineering can be a successful career path for women. In light of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” — slated for Feb. 24 as an international observance dedicated to educating women about careers in her field — Shanker has compiled the following list of successful career tips for current and aspiring female engineers.

Build your hard and soft skills Women interested in engineering should not only work on their technical foundation, but also develop their soft skills. The importance of being a good written and verbal communicator is invaluable in this profession.

• Know your goals, gain respect — Focus on your own career goals, then exceed them. There was a time when fewer women entered the engineering field — it was often a challenge to be accepted as an equal, but accomplishments speak for themselves.

• Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer — Volunteering your time will put you in the driver’s seat of your engineering career. Whether with industry or community organizations, volunteering will give you early credibility as a hard working, passionate practitioner while providing relationships and learning experiences that are priceless.

• Work/life balance is possible, believe it — Having a successful career as an engineer is a matter of balance. Significant others, family, and friends are what give your life passion, and passion with perseverance makes anything possible. Whatever your personal interests and passions are, there is a field of engineering where you can apply all of your skills!

Know your teachers, be a consummate student — Determine who the key mentors, coaches, teachers, leaders, and peers are in your professional life — these people will arm you with insight to deal with challenges ahead and those challenges will make you stronger. Constantly observe, absorb, understand, and apply — learn from everything around you, understand and remember the basics behind it, and try to apply the facts in similar situations

Act the part, be the part — To make a good impression and be taken seriously, look people in the eye when you speak to them, speak clearly and confidently, and be direct. There is always a human aspect to any kind of engineering project — communicate that element and stay mindful that the technical component of a project is only one small component.

Question everything — Sometimes status quo exists because nobody questioned the process or took the initiative to change it. This is true for engineering designs or even day-to-day office culture. Always look for a better way to accomplish a project.

Remember that attitude with integrity is everything — Remember that attitude with integrity is everything. You will accomplish what you believe you can accomplish. Young engineers — males and females alike — may be given simple tasks, but each is an opportunity to problem solve, be responsible, and analyze everything in front of you (and be a better professional for it).

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