So You’re an Engineering Student? What About After School?

I’ve migrated between professions in my adult life to finally come to a place that I consider comfortable. This entry is sort of a helping hand to other people who are entering the technology fields (I’m a biomedical technician, so things will be heavily leaning in that direction, but should be fairly cross discipline)

Join professional societies. Big secret? Hardly anyone likes “mixers”, but networking is an important aspect of the science community and an excellent way to put yourself ahead of the competition. There will be competition; don’t delude yourself to think that there won’t be. Some of these cost and some are “geared” to certain professions, but that doesn’t stop you from becoming a member.

Also follow the news and blogs. Technologies are fast paced and difficult to keep abreast of when out of school. It’s important that you remain current, I can’t stress that enough. There’s no better way to wow someone during your interview than to be progressive in your knowledge.

1) IEEE
IEEE stands for “Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers” and so you may be confused as to why I am a member. IEEE sets standards for electrical components in all equipment. It’s important to keep abreast of new tech and what is coming out so that you will be current with trends. As a professional, even if you’re not “that sort of engineer” you will find a lot here that is relevant to your interests.

IEEE also has clout. It’s the single largest professional association for engineers in the world. As such its members enjoy discounts, special training courses, and a job board that is available to members only.

Due to its size, IEEE is not free. It costs. However the student memberships are decently priced.

2) GMI
Global Medical Imaging is a biomedical group that provides a variety of support and services to its members. It also sports a blog by Patrick K. Lynch, a long standing member of most of the professional organizations in the United States.

The blog is helpful to people who are new to the biomedical world and want to get an understanding of what’s going on. They also host small conferences that are good places for free refresher courses and meeting people who are in your industry.

3) Your region’s Engineering Association.
I’m a member of OCEA (Central Ohio Clinical Engineering Association). Being a member gives me news letters and focus groups, including the ability to go to conferences. While the topics can be dry, it’s always useful information and a good chance to meet people with experience. The best way to find one would be to google your “[My Area][My Major] Association”.

4) Biomedtalk
This is a forum that’s full of professionals who discuss a wide variety of topics. The forum looks a bit cluttered, and is not as pretty as many of the younger generation would be used to, but don’t sell it short. It’s a good place to get knowledge, ask questions, and acclimate yourself to a variety of people. Despite the sense that as technologists we don’t people very well, it’s important to discuss and be able to work with a wide range of people.

5) Technation
This is a favorite place of mine to poke at. There are a TON of articles, writers, professors (My own Purdue has a spotlight right now), and help. You can listen to Tech Nation on NPR as well, but I would suggest poking around the site and soaking up what it has to offer. I’ve found a lot of good reading on here, and a lot of things to research on my own.

6) ECRI institute
ECRI is an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care. Patient handling and care is paramount in the biomedical world and it’s a good place to probe around. Again they have incentives for being a member, and a ton of information. Their newsletters are free and usually very up to date.

The most important thing to remember about being in technology is that we don’t get to stop learning. The information that we need is always updating and changing and it’s important to continue to update yourself so that you remain valuable to your industry and competative.

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