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Posted by Noah Singer

Six Actions to Take When Starting a New Technical Role

April 19, 2024

During my eight years in the engineering workforce, I have had three jobs. Because of my moving around, I have spent a fair amount of time as “the new engineer on the team”. Through my time spent as the new engineer, I have found several strategies for coming up to speed as quickly as possible. Below are six recommended actions to take when starting a new technical role.

Spread Questions to Various Team Members

At the start of a new job, there is going to be an endless list of questions. Some of them can only be answered by your boss. However, many of them can be answered by anyone who has spent more time working at the company. As much as is practical, spread your questions across your team and beyond. Spreading your questions gives your boss a break and gives you a chance to interact with your new coworkers. Interacting with coworkers is paramount. Learning about your coworkers knowledge and experience will allow you to more effectively ask questions in the future because you’ll know who knows what.

Don’t Forget Your Previous Experience

Despite being new to the job, you were hired because of your knowledge and experience. Keep previous work you’ve done at the top of your mind so you can compare new problems to problems that you’ve solved. Even if this is your first job out of school, knowledge gained completing undergraduate problem sets, at internships or in a senior design project can be invaluable in solving new problems. Chances are, when tackling a new challenge, you’ve surmounted a portion of that challenge on a previous project.

Review Completed Jobs

While learning how to do the tasks associated with a new job, it can be helpful to see what a finished project should look like. Ask your boss and your coworkers for examples of completed work that is similar to what you’ll be working on. Reviewing previously completed work will provide insight into what your final deliverable should look like. At an engineering company, deliverable consistency is key to our brand. Understanding deliverable expectations by reviewing finished work will allow you to come up to speed faster and produce high quality work sooner.8 steps for plc5 to controllogix conversion

Do General Research

As a person who is new to a job, there can be periods of downtime while your workload is ramping up. Resist the temptation to stare into space! Use some of this time to read relevant articles, research products you might specify and watch some educational YouTube videos. Having a wide breadth of related knowledge helps us deliver more comprehensive engineering solutions to our clients.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Basic Questions

It is common for an experienced engineer to use colloquial engineering terminology which might not be known to someone new on the job. Early in my engineering career, spool piece, PLC and SIS were terms I didn’t understand or promptly ask about. Had I asked and understood sooner, I would have been able to add value to discussions containing these terms. Experienced engineers are thrilled to answer any question, basic or complex.

Approach Trade Shows with a Partner of a Similar Experience Level and Communicate that Experience Level to the Vendors

Trade shows are loud, packed with experts and overwhelming. These conditions can be particularly taxing on someone new to the engineering industry. Two keys for success at a trade show are communicating your level of knowledge and approaching the event with a partner. When approaching a trade show vendor, they may assume you have a substantial level of knowledge about their product category. They may launch into their rehearsed shpiel about their products. It is best to inform them of your level of understanding and ask for an introductory level explanation. Everybody wins in this scenario. They are able to provide information you’ll understand, and you’ll be able to do some substantial learning because the information is presented at your level. In addition to communicating your knowledge level, having a partner to walk around with is helpful. It is less intimidating to approach a vendor as a team, your partner’s questions may evoke your own questions, and it is generally more fun to have this new experience with someone else.

These are six items I’ve found helpful through my various new jobs. I hope they will be helpful to anyone starting a new technical role.


About the Author

Noah Singer is a process engineer at Hallam-ICS with experience in utility scale liquified natural gas and large-scale petrochemical processing. He has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from SUNY Binghamton, an M.S. in engineering management from Tufts University and holds professional engineering licenses in MA, RI and PA. Outside of work, Noah can be found mountain biking in New England, skiing in Utah and strolling around nature preserves near Boston.

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About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.

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Topics: Process Control and Plant Automation

Noah Singer

By Noah Singer

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April 19, 2024

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