Despite my love of all things technical, I had never heard of “engineering” as a profession until I was in high school. My family is full of doctors, lawyers, and teachers—and so, it was only natural that I should lean toward one of these careers. But it would be another thing entirely that would lead me to consider engineering as an option: the Season 1 finale episode of MacGyver. In all seriousness though, by the time I graduated high school with a physics degree – which also included courses in computer programming – I was hooked on engineering and knew that it would be my future career path. Since then, having worked for several companies across industries both big and small (including some Fortune 500), I have come to realize that there are certain skills that engineers need to succeed:

 1. Ask questions. A lot of them.

One of the most important skills you can develop as an engineer is asking questions. Asking questions not only helps you learn but also helps you understand the context of the problem and find a solution that works well for everyone involved. Asking questions also build trust with your team members, which will make them more comfortable working with you on future projects.

To make sure that people feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems (and thus provide opportunities for learning), it’s important that engineers ask lots of open-ended questions (i.e., ones without yes/no answers). These include:

  • What’s going on here?
  • How did this happen?
  • Why?

2. Understand and have patience for the business side of things.

An engineering graduate needs to understand the business side of things. They also need to have a good grasp of how their profession fits into the larger context of corporate and government organizations. Engineering is about creating solutions for problems, but in order for those solutions to be implemented effectively, there needs to be an understanding between engineers and their clients about what each side expects from the other.

Engineers must therefore understand not just how their skills can help solve problems, but also when other kinds of expertise and knowledge might be needed in order for them to do so (for example a company may have expertise in marketing or finance that could be useful in developing new products). In turn, businesses need engineers who are able to apply engineering principles toward solving business problems while still being open-minded enough on occasion when working with non-engineers (say if they’re dealing with a client who may seem naïve at first glance).

3. Document work done in a clear and concise manner.

When you’re an engineer, the work can get pretty complicated. When you’re working on designs or projects, it’s important to document what you do in a clear and concise way. That way, when someone else wants to see how you did something or needs to look back at something they’ve done in the past, they’ll be able to understand it easily. This is also useful if another engineer needs to pick up where someone else left off—they will be able to see what was done previously so they won’t have to spend as much time figuring out where everyone else went wrong (or right).

4. Provide the best possible solution to meet the customer’s needs – not just the best technical solution.

As a software engineer, you’re going to be solving complex problems. But not every problem has to be solved with the most technical solution. Often, a more business-oriented approach will get you better results.

In fact, one of the main reasons that engineers leave their jobs is because they’re not getting enough opportunity to use their skills in business problem solving (as opposed to technical problem solving).

So what does it mean? It means that when you work with your managers and customers, you should think about how they want their business problems solved—not necessarily how they want all their tech problems solved. This can be challenging because we’re all trained as engineers to think about engineering first and foremost!

5. Be able to see where you fit into the big picture, and be able to follow instructions on what needs to be done while being able to apply your own expertise when needed.

As a graduate, you will have the opportunity to work in all kinds of organizations. Some will be small, some large, and some publically traded. Whatever size your company may be, it is crucial that you can see where your expertise fits into the big picture at any given time. You’ll also need to be able to follow instructions on what needs to be done while being able to apply your own expertise when needed. When working in teams with other engineers, you must recognize when it is appropriate for others on the team to take over certain tasks so that everyone can contribute their skills and expertise towards achieving a common goal or objective (this does not mean taking over whole projects).

By being able to think outside of “the box” and come up with new solutions for problems as well as collaborating effectively with other engineering professionals within an organization are key skills that engineering graduates should possess even before starting their first job after graduating from college or university; however these are also important traits which can help them throughout their professional careers.”

6. Be willing to make mistakes, then learn from them.

Mistakes are a part of the learning process, and we can all agree that not making mistakes is not an option for engineers.

As engineers, we’re taught to be precise and methodical in our work—to think things through carefully before putting ideas into action. But this mindset can make it difficult to accept failure when it inevitably happens; after all, if you think something should work perfectly the first time around and don’t expect any problems, then how do you learn from your mistakes?

The truth is that everyone makes mistakes—even successful people who have had very little experience with failure at one point or another in their lives. In fact, many of us would go so far as to say that some of their greatest successes came out of overcoming their biggest failures!

7. Engineers need more than engineering skills to succeed in the real world.

In addition to technical skills, engineers also need to develop certain soft skills. Soft skills are non-technical skills that have nothing to do with engineering. These include interpersonal communication, written communication, and presentation skills.

Engineers should be able to communicate effectively and listen well because they will need to explain their ideas clearly in meetings or proposals. They should also be able to write clearly for reports or presentations so that others can understand what they mean without asking for clarification too often (which wastes time). Finally, engineers need good presentation skills as well because many jobs require giving presentations or explaining designs orally before getting approval from management or clients/customers


The skills listed above are not just great for engineers to have, but for anyone who wants to be successful in their career. It can take some time and effort to learn these skills, but the investment is well worth it! The best part about them all is that they aren’t difficult at all: anyone can do them with a little practice and dedication. Whether you’re looking for a new job, trying to advance your current one, or simply interested in improving yourself as an individual, these skills will make life easier—and better!