While many things, even entire professions are changing rapidly, some things… not so much. When it comes to professional success, interaction skills, personal ethics and enjoying your work have been important for decades.

Paul McCormick, Managing Director of AECOM, one of the world’s largest providers of professional, technical and management support services for transportation, facilities, environment, energy, water and government, shared his tips for success. McCormick urges young apprentices and trainees in civil engineering to capitalize their apprentices from day one.

Paul McCormick’s tips to achieve success

  1. Ensure you work for a company that is prepared to invest in your career by not just funding a day release program but also committing company time and energy in nurturing your career in the workplace.
  2. Work hard at your studies. Make time to perform at your studies and especially if you study while working, remember you are there for a long time as many of you will need to do 6-12 years of part-time studies to become professionally qualified. The really good employers will be there with you for this long game.
  3. Work hard at work. This should go without saying. You need to be visible in the office and be seen as a reliable, can-do, hard-working and helpful individual. It will take time to develop this “presence”, but in the first five years just try to excel at everything you do, and be the person that always helps others to meet their deadlines.
  4. Start building a good CV of projects you’ve worked on and keep this live for years to come. You will need this in 10-15 years’ time when you go for professional recognition/exams (e.g. PE/CEng/IEng status).
  5. Emulate elements of people that you admire (professionally that is) from the office or on projects you work on. From the cheerful caretaker to the grumpy but decisive boss…..there are good elements in most people that will help you develop your own unique persona.
  6. Avoid the deflators or negative people. They detract from your energy and won’t be part of your successful career. Develop yourself as a people focused positive person.
  7. Never change jobs, companies or career direction for money, only for opportunities to enhance your career. Imagine yourself in 30-40 years as the best expert in what you want to be; then step back and plan career moves to get you there. Each career move needs to be planned and part of this “life map”, but don’t panic if you fall off the “map”; just climb back on and re-plan a new route to success.
  8. Have fun. An often overlooked element of work. With a career expected to last 30-40 years you need to try ensure that you really do enjoy going to work and balancing the life by making time for family and friends. Yes there will be low days and I’ve had my share, learn to love what you do and have fun.
  9. Work for a good boss. This can be tricky at the beginning of your career, but as you gain experience you will be the one in demand. Then you can select to work for the best bosses and greatest companies aligned with your personal vision and goals.
  10. Develop yourself as a “Brand”. When you advance in your career and are not a trainee anymore, you will want people to see you with a strong profile. Use Social Media (LinkedIn or Twitter etc.) in conjunction with traditional media to improve your personal brand recognition.
  11. Develop strong personal ethics. Leaders who stand the test of time share the underlying trait of strong ethics and always do what is right for themselves, their companies and society. Never stop below your ethical, professional or safety standards……….life is too short.