Engineering is one of the most rewarding careers because it is so highly customizable. You can focus on the type of build and production you personally enjoy and find most rewarding. You can also progress your career in a way that suits you best. Some prefer to work in research, others as specialist designers, and others still as managers or even business owners.
Of course, there will come a time when everyone should at least consider looking into management or leadership as a way forward. There is only so much you can do on your own. Even working as a specialist and in a freelance capacity will reach its breaking point. In order to go further, you’ll need to start delegating and knowing how to manage a team and a business.
There are so many exciting ways that you can take your career forward, but for many engineers, the skills and knowledge necessary to bridge that gap don’t yet exist for them. That is where management degrees come into play. One of the most popular is the business administration degree. Still, for engineers, there are more specific management degrees available that cover several key topics with a focus on engineering specifically.
Benefits of an Online Education for Engineers
In the past, the only real option for those looking to advance their career this way was to take time off to attend their master’s full time or find a local option nearby where they could attend night school. Neither option is ideal when you have worked your way up to an important role and have others depending on you. Taking time off work can be detrimental to your career and business aspirations, and settling for the night school options near you isn’t ideal, either.
The good news is that online education has received massive new investments. No longer is it a clunky, difficult degree approach. Today it is not only massively improved from its early years, but it is also quickly becoming the go-to option for those who want to further their qualifications and experience while continuing to work.
Even if you do want to tackle your degree full-time, you can still find benefits in choosing an online option instead of going to campus. For one, you can continue to live where you are. This often means a lower cost of living and the ability to care for loved ones if you are in that situation. Most of all, however, it means being able to apply to the best program for you, often regardless of where it is located.
Full Time or Part Time: Which is the Best Approach for You
Online is quickly becoming the go-to approach for many professionals looking to further their skillset in one way or another. The main reason why is because online degrees are often flexible. They are designed for working professionals and come with several start dates and intakes.
Whether a part-time degree is right for you is really easy to determine. If you intend to continue to work, then find a flexible online degree fit for purpose. If you want to tackle the degree as fast as you can, then full-time is your go-to option.
Suppose you are looking for a full-time option. In that case, you may want to look into on-campus education, just as it typically provides you with a more stable environment and better networking opportunities. Only consider this option if moving is advantageous to you or your top location is also close by.
However, for most, an online, flexible degree designed for working professionals is just what you need.
What Should Your Engineering Management Degree Include?
There are multiple reasons why a Masters of Engineering Management can and will help you with your career. Understanding what your goals are can help you make the best decision not only in terms of what degree to enroll in but also what concentrations to focus on.
There are a few basics, however, that you will want your degree to offer:
- Budgeting and Financial Management
- Project Management
- People Management and Leadership
- Data and Analytic-Driven Problem Solving
- Product Innovation Management
- Operations Management
These are just a few of the essentials. It would be best if you also had an option of concentrations. For example, you can choose to concentrate on data analytics, product innovation management, or operations management. Which option suits you depends entirely on what you want out of your career and which skills you need most. If you already have a long history of working in operations management in your career, for example, you will get more out of another concentration like data analytics.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Degree
If you want to get the most value out of your degree, you need to use these top tips:
Put What You Learn to Use
One of the best ways to simultaneously learn better and also make your degree work towards your future even before you graduate is to put what you learn to use – from the very first day. The concepts you learn don’t need you to wait to graduate before you can use them. You can start to use your new knowledge and skills at work from day one. If you want to start a company, then start planning on the first day and use what you learn to create a robust and working strategy.
Take Advantage of the Services Available
From your department to the careers services, every university comes with more tools and opportunities than you think. In order to get the most value out of your program, you owe it to yourself to look through and learn just what tools and services are available to you and will continue to be available to you. Some programs offer ongoing alumni access to industry journals, for example.
Make it a habit to check in with your student advisor or success coach, and be vocal about your needs. Your university wants to help you, and knowing what you need is the first step to making it happen.
It’s also a great idea to understand what level of support they offer their alumni. Typically, you have continued access to career services and the university’s own contacts, but those don’t last forever. That being said, there are a few lifelong benefits you can likely expect, like ongoing access to journals in your field or at least access to the university’s online library. On top of that, you will be allowed and encouraged to stay in touch with your teachers and professors.
What this means is that you should have access to relevant journals and reports that would usually cost a lot of money. Though you should be able to get your job in the future to cover the cost of such relevant reports, easy access to ongoing information is always a plus, and how you can adopt lifelong learning into your professional development.
How to Juggle a Degree and Your Career
Getting the most out of your degree is how to set yourself up for success, but it doesn’t necessarily help you succeed in the here and now.
How to Improve Your Energy Levels
Feeling energized is how you get things done, and there are a lot of physiological concerns that will hold you back. To juggle your degree and your career, you’ll want to first improve your health by focussing on these key areas:
Changing up your health and everyday routine like this can take a lot of energy and focus. With this in mind, it is actually a better idea to get started on your new healthy living routine before your course starts so that you can reap the benefits without dealing with withdrawals and other issues like exhaustion after starting up a new exercise routine.
Managing Your Time
Your routine and how you manage both your work and degree is important. You’ll want to split up your degree requirements throughout the day and work out how much you need to do per day in order to keep up with your goals. Try to give yourself your weekends off so that you can commit to fun, relaxing activities.
Managing your time like this can help you be consistent without feeling overloaded. However, even during those study periods, you will still want to take breaks.
The Importance of Breaks
Breaks are one of the most important tips you can integrate into your work and study routine. We are not built like computers. We cannot easily or without hardship sit and stick with one task for long periods of time. We work better on shorter tasks and when we can walk away for a break.
If you have ever noticed that sitting and trying to puzzle out a solution or read a document feels impossible, then take a break. Do something else and take your mind off of the work. When you go back, you should feel more refreshed, and you may even have found that inspiration hits you when you stop worrying about it. This is because your brain has relaxed and recovered and is ready to help you once again.
How to Reaffirm Important Information
Reaffirming the most important information often means memorizing. From financing and analytics details to management methods, there is a lot to consider and a lot you’ll want to ingrain in your memory so well that it comes naturally to you throughout your career.
Cramming does not work. It allows you to perhaps remember a lot of information in a short-term capacity, but this isn’t useful for your career. Instead, you will need to reaffirm what you need to learn over and over in small chunks.
To do this well, you will need to create your own notes. Being able to explain the concepts you need in your own words is the best way to understand them. It’s also how you can summarize the essential information quickly for you, which will help you to remember it.
Consider creating audio notes as well as written notes. By either using the text-to-speak feature on your mobile phone or creating voice notes, you can listen to the information during your commute, while you are in a waiting room, doing chores, and so on. This way, you will subconsciously take in the information.
This takes the pressure off and allows your brain to turn those short-term memories into long-term ones.
Rely on Your Peers
Your peers are there for you. They can help you understand concepts, can be there to vent to, and can also help when it comes to taking notes and splitting up readings. You should have a list and access to those who are taking the course with you. After all, one of the biggest setbacks to the distanced degree when it was first invented was a lack of peer and educator access. Online education brings people together from around the country and the world, and you need to take advantage of that.
Check in On Your Health and Wellbeing
It is not easy when it comes to taking on a career and a degree – two things typically accomplished with full-time dedication. Add in stresses of work, home, and your degree and you can quickly become overloaded. Something as simple as a cold, or in this day and age, something as serious as COVID, can put a stop to your efforts and disrupt your ability to juggle your career and degree.
That is why it is imperative that you check in on your health and wellbeing throughout the process. Noticing when you start to feel overwhelmed and take action is how you avoid burnout or a breakdown in extreme situations.
It can be tempting to try to rush through your degree as well, but this can end very poorly. Figuring out the right pace for your degree that suits you specifically is how you will make great progress and see excellent results.