Orange County Branch Newsletter
May is the Time to Think New Grads!
By Cindy Miller, P.E.
With summer just around the corner, I am again looking forward to getting to know and work with some of the new civil engineering graduates who have recently, or soon will be, entering our ranks here in Orange County. Until recently, our challenging economic climate weighed heavily on many firms’ hiring abilities, but the tide seems to be shifting this year, with clients and colleagues reporting a marked increase in new graduate hires for 2013. Let’s hope this trend continues, for it goes without saying that these graduates are literally our industry’s future! Here in Orange County, we can be proud of the high caliber of civil engineering graduates coming from our local universities. There are three universities within our Branch’s geographic area that have civil engineering programs: University of California, Irvine, California State University, Long Beach, and California State University, Fullerton. A good number of these graduates no doubt will wish to remain in the Orange County area to start their civil engineering careers, and I’m sure we are all looking within our organizations to provide those opportunities whenever possible. But the commitment to our new graduates only begins when we hire them. It’s our ongoing commitment and follow-through to foster their professional growth that can make all the difference to their long-term success.
Remember back when you started your first civil engineering job? I sure do! Entering the work force in what can be described as one’s first “real” job can be intimidating and stressful. It’s a time of uncertainty, having spent the last four years or so going to class, studying textbooks, performing laboratory experiments, and solving well defined problems. Now, you’re being asked to solve problems not so neatly defined, and you’re not quite sure how to go about it. My transition from civil engineering student to civil engineer was, I’m sure, a pretty typical experience. I remember sitting in my new cubicle with butterflies in my stomach, wondering what my first assignment would be and hoping it would be something I’d know how to do. Fortunately for me, one of the senior engineers in my department, who I wasn’t even working for, took the time to introduce himself and ask me if I needed any help. It was the start of a great mentoring experience. He became my go-to person, the person I could ask any technical question to and he’d not only have the answer, but would spend the time teaching me how he arrived at the answer and why. Looking back, I am forever grateful to him for deciding to invest time in my future. He was 'Paying it Forward' long before the movie made that term popular.
With this in mind, when you see that new young graduate walking around your office, maybe looking a little lost or uncertain, don’t be hesitant about introducing yourself and asking if he or she needs any help. You’d be surprised how just that small gesture can have such a profound impact on that young person’s future.