About a month ago, I spoke to the Student Chapter at the American University in Dubai. I asked the students, “Was there a time that you thought you might not want to be a civil engineer?” A number of hands went up, including my own. For young adults who must now face the daunting uncertainty of the future, committing to a career may not be an easy decision. When I was a student, I remember talking with my faculty adviser about my plans to leave civil engineering and pursue music instead. However, he convinced me to continue my studies in civil engineering. What great advice that was. I’ve had a great career that has been both fulfilling and meaningful. Civil engineers do more than any other profession to keep people safe and healthy by providing clean drinking water, proper waste disposal and treatment, and safe transportation systems. We prevent problems while other professions treat problems after people experience them. It is a wonderful people-serving profession.
After my talk, a student who was considering changing her major approached me and said that I’d convinced her to continue her studies in civil engineering because she now realized how much good civil engineers do. How gratifying it was to hear that I made a difference in one of her life decisions.
You too can make a difference. Get involved with your Institute, Technical Groups, Region, Section or Branch and see what kind of programs they offer for student and younger members. Are you an experienced speaker? Offer to speak at a student chapter meeting or lead a half-day workshop on communication skills at one of ASCE’s leadership conferences. You can engage with Student Members at the National Concrete Canoe Competition and National Steel Bridge Competition and enhance their knowledge of civil engineering. As an experienced professional, join our mentoring program and share your expertise with younger members. Our mentoring program is invaluable because it gives young professionals the support they need when they begin their career, so they don’t have to make difficult career decisions alone.