Finding the Right Field

I am in school and am pursing my Associates in Architectural Engineering and have no experience in either field. I have worked in Accounting and Financial positions for the most part but would like to find a job in a related field while I finish school. Are there any entry level jobs in these fields? How would you suggest going about this? Also, although I am a very good student thus far, I am one of very few women in this field at my school, do you think this will have a major effect on my job opportunites after graduating?
Thank you,
Chrissy Cooper
posted by Chrissy, Simsonville, SC on March 29, 2012

Answer 1 by Dr. Patricia D Galloway PE

Chrissy, I think it is wonderful that you are pursuing a career in Architectural Engineering. I also think it is ideal that you have both an accounting and finance background, a combination that is rare to find with someone interested in engineering! I sincerely believe that engineers of the 21st Century should be trained with more than technical subjects including project management, leadership and public policy, among others. I would encourage you to continue to complete your education with Architectural Engineering. I also would suggest you consider looking into the areas of green design and construction and sustainability, which are already considerations every engineer should take into account in today's environment. When you are looking at potential employers, be sure to point out that you have skills that go beyond those learned in architecture and engineering and that you understand the management aspect of the work to be performed, including the financial and accounting side of things. This will be very attractive to future employers. Regarding how you should go about this really depends on what area you wish to work, both from a industry perspective as well as location, including whether you have an interest in international work. However, a good source of information is Engineering News Record which has information on most all design and construction companies in the world and the industries and areas of the world in which they work. Their website is www.ENR.com. I happen to be a weekly blog writer for ENR so I hope you will enjoy mine as well as others who share their experiences. Again, my congratulations to you for having the enthusiasm and passion for engineering. We need more young women in the profession. Pat

Answer 2 by Danielle Forget Shield P.E.

There are entry level positions in Architectural Engineering but they require a certain level of knowledge. Have you learned CADD? Starting at a firm as a CADD Designer is a good way to learn a lot about practical design techniques. Utilize the contacts your University has through it's career services. Utilize your professors and their contacts. Get involved in technical and professional organizations at your University and attend activities hosted by the professional arms of these organizations. If anything, it will have a positive impact on your pursuit of employment. There continue to be low percentages of female engineers in the workforce and it doesn't appear that a radical shift will occur anytime soon. There are advantages and disadvantages to being one of few women. Just remember that all workplaces have challenges that can be outweighed by advantages. Make sure you choose a workplace that offers advantages that make you want to go back to work every day regardless of the challenges that will come your way. The best way to ensure you have that choice is to continue to excell in school. Danielle Forget Shield, P.E.