What Do Engineers Do?


Post #51 The Mystery of Engineering Duties

You try to diligently read job descriptions word for word only to be left feeling confused.  Job postings can be so vague that they leave you with more questions than answers.  “Lead team through processes and collaborate as necessary.  Accountable for customer satisfaction.  Manage project budget and schedule.”  These are all vague and common examples.  But, what does that actually mean?  What do engineers do?


Ambiguous Job Descriptions

Sometimes job descriptions are sneaky.  It is almost as if they are written in a code language that is so ambiguous it could mean anything.  If you are looking for a specialized engineering position (i.e. structural analyst), this won’t apply nearly as much.  But, for those of you open to multiple engineering positions, job descriptions can be confusing.  Do not let this stop you from applying.  And do not allow this to hinder your interviewing preparations (see Post #10).  The best advice I can offer is that you won’t know how well a job fits you until you try it.


Day-to-Day Tasks

So, what do engineers do?  The technical work you perform will vary, of course, depending upon the actual job.  I cannot get into the specifics of technical work since it varies so much between job title and employer.  However, I can give you a partial list of necessary administrative duties that are common in engineering jobs.  This is not an all-inclusive list.  Much of your daily/weekly engineering career could be spent:

  • Learning what your job requires
  • Searching for resources to answer your questions
  • Attending, facilitating and contributing to meetings
  • Investigating historical records
  • Learning new software
  • Logging in to various programs
  • Communicating with customers, management, coworkers, IT
  • Memorizing company policies and procedures
  • Writing/editing reports, memos, plans, guides, recommendations
  • Submitting reports for approval
  • Responding to emails and questions
  • Creating slides to summarize status and results
  • Presenting your work to management
  • Arranging business travel and lodging
  • Submitting official requests for IT or software assistance

In conclusion, you won’t really know what your job looks like until you experience it.  If you decide it’s not for you, that’s perfectly okay.  There are plenty of other jobs waiting on you.

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