Be proactive

 First and foremost, you need to be proactive if want to influence which projects you work on and effect the direction of your career path. Draw attention to yourself and your capabilities and make connections throughout the organisation. If you just wait quietly in the corner, you’ll be working on whatever project needs an extra hand.

Here in Ramboll, our young employees learn to understand colleagues in the organisation as internal clients, whom they must seek out and get to know, so that they will be headhunted for exciting projects later on. To some extent, you have to create your own business as a young employee.

Project managers prefer to have skilled and ambitious engineers on their team. So if you give off a ‘here I come’-attitude, it’s only positive.

Be open

It’s okay to have an ambition to become a project manager or department manager, because it’s something to work towards. It is in no way disqualifying to be ambitious – quite the opposite. But remember to be open about your ambitions; otherwise your manager won’t be able to help you get there.

Being open about what motivates you is a great advantage for your manager, because it makes it easier to give you the right tasks. This doesn’t mean that you’ll avoid the occasional tedious task altogether, but they will probably take up less of your time.

Build up your professional capabilities

Focus on building solid professional capabilities, already when studying. Avoid taking too many fluffy courses without content relating to engineering competences. When you begin working, drink in as much expertise as possible. As a recent graduate, it’s not all that important which projects you work on. Instead, you should make sure to get wide-ranging professional experience from many diverse projects. Sparring with experienced colleagues, courses and introductory courses are also important.

As a young engineer, you will find that there is still plenty to learn when you finish school: focus on developing your skills within collaboration and communication, or ride the wave of new technology such as BIM. If you want to become a project manager, perhaps you could start as an assistant project manager.

A ‘yes’ to something new means ‘no’ to the old

The transition from one role in the organisation to another can be very difficult to handle, because saying yes to something new ultimately means saying no the old role. You cannot do it all, without ending up taking half-measures or cracking under the strain.

A broader outlook and less details

The higher you move up the organisational ladder, the more you will have to take a helicopter view of things and leave the details to your employees. It can be rather a challenge to accept a 90-pct. solution if you normally thrive on doing things 100 pct. The trick is to always think ahead and organise projects carefully.

If your ambition is to become a project manager or department manager, you will find that collaboration and communication are increasingly important abilities, as they are prerequisites for ensuring good cooperation both internally and in relation to suppliers, business partners and contractors.