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Grad School vs. Experiences

  1. Dec 22, 2013 #1
    Hi all,

    I am a newbie in this website. I have found this website a great source of help for me in every possible ways. Currently I am at a crossroad in my career path where I need to make a sound decision in order to move forward.

    I am a civil engineer in training (EIT) with more than 2 years of experience in the trasportation engineering field specilizing mainly in roadway/highway design. In my team, there are three other more senior level engineers who have masters and at least 6 years of experience. Working with them, sometime I feel I am so far behind them in terms of knowledge and software skills no matter how hard I try. I have never been shy away from asking questions and learning things on my own to improve my knowledge. However I still feel like they are still too far ahead for me to catch up. Plus, I always get assigned to do same tasks over and over again. So far I have not got many chances to do the designs under their supervision. Every time there is a design project coming in regardless of its complexity, they would do it and assign me small tasks in the design instead of letting me try to do the design myself under their supervision. I am just worried that if this keeps going on, then I will not be able to move forward in my career path. Is this normal for you guys when you first started working in the engineering field? I am considering of quitting my job and going back to school to get a master degree in transportation engineering. Would the master degree help me? Would experience weight more than a master? Please advice. Thank you very much for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2013 #2
    Two years may seem like a long time to you but your coworkers probably feel like you just got there. Be available to help out with anything. If your stuff gets slow ask what else you can do to help. If you're working in an office environment don't be the first to leave at the end of the day. Stick around and see who's working late, see if they need help. Sometimes the old guys think its quicker to do something themselves, rather than explain what needs to be done. But almost everyone appreciates it when the new guy is there to help, especially after hours. I did a lot of crappy stuff when I was new. Who else remembers "keypunch"? Haha. Don't worry, it gets better.
  4. Dec 22, 2013 #3


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    gmax has a good point - two years isn't very long. But I think you're right, it's enough time to start considering your options.

    At your next performance evaluation, you should definitely discuss this topic with your boss. Let him/her know you are ready for more challenge. Hopefully, you will get constructive guidance that will help you decide on pursuing further education.

    Do you have annual performance evaluations?
  5. Dec 22, 2013 #4


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    This is truly excellent advice. I am now one of the "old guys" and it is often true that doing something myself is faster than explaining it to a new hire and going through the iterations with them. But if it is clear that someone is really dedicated and investing their time and trying to be helpful, then it is certainly worth training them to help. Plus working hard and offering to help generates a lot of good will, and people are more likely to give an opportunity to that kind of employee.

  6. Dec 22, 2013 #5
    Thanks for your advice. I do have annual performance evaluations. I brought this issue up with my boss during my mid-year performance review. He advised me to be patient and keep up my good works. I have always shown my willingess to learn and help others at work. Plus I am usually one of the last people who leave the office. Did you experience this before when you first started working? Do you think going to a grad school for a master's degree would help me fare better in my field? In other words, it would make me qualified to be given more responsiblities at work?
  7. Dec 22, 2013 #6


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    The only thing that makes you qualified to be given more responsibilities at work is your demonstrated competence in successfully completing your current responsibilities. A focused master's degree could be very helpful for developing skills. I think of my graduate school program as "concentrated experience" because I had to do a lot of tasks myself that typically take years to work up to in industry.

    You're showing a lot of initiative and eagerness to learn. I think you're probably doing just fine.
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