As a recruiter I hear it all the time from my clients, “We need a seller-doer, we need a seller-doer.” Not only is it a tight market for technically strong and competent civil engineers, it is even more difficult to find my other favorite classification of engineer, “The Rain Maker.” So now they ask us to uncover the perfect combination, not only someone who can make the rain, but someone who can analyze it, purify it, bottle it and get it out to the customer….ahhhhhh, yes, the SELLER-DOER!
Well, in order to make my job easier a few years down the road, I hope to reach as many civil engineering students and new graduates as possible with my thoughts here. It is imperative that you learn and understand the pure engineering and the technical side of your profession – whether you are focusing on designing tunnels for transit authorities, laying out 7000 acre master planned communities, or preparing PS&E documents for a half-a-billion dollar toll road. Learn the technology, learn the concepts, study up on the corresponding codes and ordinances and prepare yourself to sit for that PE Exam ASAP. BUT, do not fall in the trap that many young engineers so often do by getting stuck behind the computer in their 8 x 8 cubical all day; get out! Be proactive in learning the client and business and marketing side of things at an early stage in your career. You accomplish this by requesting of your manager to tag along on some client meetings from time-to-time; by requesting to attend community planning meetings; by sitting in on presentations; by contributing to the preparation of proposals; by attending the occassional industry conference; by making presentations or writing papers for conferences; by attending specific marketing and business development workshops; the list goes on-and-on, but you catch my drift. Of course you need to determine the timing of all of this as you have deadlines to meet and technical concepts to learn and understand, just don’t get bogged down in only the nuts-and-bolts for your first seven or eight years.
My point is, don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for those opportunities to come to you, go find them, and find them early on in your career. This way, by the time you’ve got ten years under your belt, you will be able to pass out business cards with your name and the title of “Seller-Doer.” Once you’ve received “Seller-Doer” status, please give me a call, I’ve got an opportunity for you…or two…or three. Next stop – “Rain Maker.”