Why is it important for an applicant to define short- and long-term goals in an engineering application?
The most basic reason is that most engineering programs require a statement of purpose. It’s extraordinarily difficult to write such a statement when you don’t have a purpose beyond obtaining a graduate degree.
Why Do You Need a Masters in Engineering Degree?
But there are far more substantive reasons that you should want to have and demonstrate clear goals in your application.
Many undergraduate engineering students decide to do further study in their field for the following reasons:
1. To develop their skills beyond the general skills developed as an undergraduate.
2. To specialize in an engineering discipline.
3. To further define career direction.
These are all valid reasons, but they really don’t go far enough. Schools have learned from experience that applicants who understand the type of work they want to do post-graduation are more focused while studying, and are better prepared for the job market upon graduation. Because applied engineering master’s programs are only one-to-two years in length, there isn’t time as in undergrad education to “find yourself.” If you enter school with a clear goal in mind, you are more likely to do well academically and be better prepared to interview with hiring organizations when studies are completed.
Aligning Your Goals with the Vision of the Program
When applying to schools, you will be accepted by the school and by the department usually with titles such as:
• Aerospace engineering
• Applied physics
• Biomedical engineering
• Chemical engineering
• Civil and environmental engineering
• Electrical engineering and computer science
• Industrial and operations engineering
• Mechanical engineering
Top engineering programs (and their departments) also have a strategic vision, with a set of values that help determine their curriculum. Often, the schools want to produce engineers who will pave the future in research, creating new products and services that are daring and innovative and serve society. Other programs are more focused on practical and immediate application or problem solving either in business, defense, healthcare, or any number of fields. You need to understand the department’s vision and strengths as well as how those qualities will help you realize your goals.
Most often, you will be required to write a statement of purpose as part of your engineering application. Included in this essay is an expectation that you will describe your short-term and long-term goals. What do you see yourself doing for 3-5 year after graduation? If you write that you want to work for a company, you need to describe if your goal is a startup, consulting firm, or large company. What industry do you want to work in, and in what job function? Do you want to be a project manager in the operations department of a large chemical Fortune 500 company? Or do you want to be a technology entrepreneur in a startup focused on machine learning educational services, eventually owning your own company?
2 Steps to Discovering Your Goals
If you are unsure of your direction, consider the following:
1. Meet with professionals in fields that hold your interest.
Make a request to your undergrad professors for referrals to their former students to have a conversation about their work. Ask a series of questions, including what projects they work on, and what they find most satisfying about their work. You will gain valuable information that could even help you write your eventual statement of purpose.
Look at the projects you have participated in, the internship positions you have held, and any relevant work experience. What kind of work is just too tedious for your liking? What kind of work do you love? What kind of environment do you thrive in?
Bottom Line: Your Goals Should Be Top of Mind
If you can describe your goals with some specificity, especially if they flow from your experience or academic education, your story, essay, and entire application will be more compelling. And, you will have a much better chance of acceptance to a school that is aligned with your goals and credentials.
Check out our Masters Application Package and work one-on-one with an expert admissions coach to help you determine your career goals, align your strengths with the strengths of your target programs, and then submit a winning application that will get you ACCEPTED! Learn more here.Want Karin to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!