When you think of a “nerdy” profession, engineering definitely fits in that category. You need to have an above average level of math and science skills. But I feel like the incredible demand for the intangible skills engineering requires gets very overlooked. Watching our professional engineers use teamwork, communication, problem solving and critical thinking to successfully complete jobs reminds me of the intangible skills I use when I am in competition. It is not enough to just have your calculations, line weight, bubbles right, etc. Communication and coordination with the firms you are teaming up with are key as well.
I am a professional arena football player and a professional marketer. While it is true that there are athletic skills that are required in arena football that are not required in my marketing job, the need for the intangible skills remains the same in both jobs. I use what I learned on the football field and apply it to the office. In my sports profession, players get cut and signed weekly; meaning that I have new teammates weekly. Communicating with them in a clear manner is imperative so they can run the play correctly. I also must do my research on the team we are playing so I can be prepared. Because of my research and preparation, I can usually narrow upcoming plays down to three possible plays that the opposition wilt run. This helps me slow the game down and focus on communicating with my teammates.
I want to be successful in my office job, so I read and do research on the A/E/C industry just like I hit the gym and the film room for my football job. Reading about what new marketers are doing will help me understand the needs in this industry. Also, I am a firm believer in responding to other firms’ emails in a timely manner. When another firm asks for our quals, resumes, etc., I try to make sure they are easily accessible. I know I appreciate when we get our responses in a timely manner. Therefore, I try to do the same right back. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t organized. I also remind our team about RFP, RFI, and other deadlines we need to meet. Communication and accountability are just as important as knowing how to do j„calcs and proposals.
In conclusion, I wrote this blog to serve as a reminder to pay attention to the intangible skills that make you valuable to your firm. What you really need is the willingness to learn and be great. In this past year, I have come across many engineers from many backgrounds. Some were “nerds” (for lack of a better word), and others were D-1 athletes such as myself. The things that all the successful engineers have in common with successful athletes is dedication, accountability, willingness to learn, organization and communication. These are all intangible necessities that go hand in hand with success. If you feel your firm or you personally lack the intangible necessities to be a great professional, now is the time to improve on them and reach new heights!