The first step to keeping yourself viable in the engineering market is to make connections as early as possible. When you are an undergrad in college, form a social network of professors and fellow students, and keep these relationships up. These people are your professional community, and you will need them in order to learn more about the industry and find work. Many times, finding a job and being successful in a given industry requires you to have contacts. Even if you go to school for something “profitable” like engineering, you are not doing yourself any good if you don’t start to make contacts as early as possible.
If you are in high school, it is wise to look into various clubs, organizations and social circles that have to do with engineering.
As you attend school and build up your network, be sure to involve yourself in plenty of extra-curricular activities where people in your field are. Join clubs and study groups that appeal to people in your particular field. If there are any volunteer opportunities, you should do those, too.
Another way to keep yourself viable in the field is to constantly gain experience. Constantly involve yourself in activities related to engineering so that you have something to put on paper. If there are any academic societies related to your field, join them. If there are any professional organizations related to your field, join them! Take on any jobs so that you can gain extra work experience.
You should also be choosy about the type of engineering fields that you want to go into. For example, government jobs tend to be more stable than startup jobs.
Create your portfolio, and constantly update it. You must be able to show that you are able to do the type of work that you say you can do. It is also important to update your portfolio because if too much time passes, your portfolio might start to look out of date. The question of, “Hey, why don’t you have any recent projects to show your current knowledge,” as well as the question of, “Hey, what have you been doing all of this time,” might come up in the mind of the interviewer.
Constantly educate yourself. Be on top of new developments in the engineering industry. The industry is constantly changing and evolving and, as an engineering professional, it is your responsibility to know about them. You can educate yourself by going back to school and attending workshops. You can also read various books and articles about the subject that you need to know about. If you need books, the internet is a great place to look for them. You can find countless books on Amazon about engineering.
Another important part of keeping yourself viable in the field is staying attuned to various social aspects. For example, stay attuned to how you can come off as personable in interviews. Stay attuned to what the culture of certain companies and fields might be. It is important to be personable because it shows that you get along well with other people and are able to work as a team with others. Be very polite, actively listen, ask questions and do not cut people off when they talk.
You should have the attitude that you should “never stop learning.” If you do not have this attitude, you should foster it within yourself! Try to grow an appreciation and hunger for learning new things. Make this mindset a way of life. It is absolutely crucial to grow a hunger for learning because such a mindset is crucial for staying afloat in the engineering industry.