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Something as important as a job change or career shift should not be taken lightly.

You don’t want to miss out on great opportunities because you’re too busy or too scared to even consider making a move. Then again you certainly don’t want to job-hop every time you have a frustrating day at work.

What to do then? How do you know when it’s time for a change?

An ongoing ASCE Collaborate discussion might provide some guidance.

Here are some highlights (and be sure to log in and contribute your own experience/advice):

James Williams, P.E., M.ASCE

Yorktown, Virginia

Having a professional development plan associated with one's company provides a path on which to focus.

However, I’ve always asked myself the following questions:

1-Am I learning or growing professionally?

2-Am I helping or contributing?

If the answer was "no" to both questions, I looked to move on. If the answer was "yes" to No. 1 only, I looked to stay conditionally. If the answer was "yes" to No. 2 only, I looked to stay conditionally based solely on a professional development plan – either the company's or my own.

At the least (bare minimum), I have to be learning or growing professionally. For me, a relationship with a company should be mutually beneficial and go beyond simply a paycheck. For others, the check may provide all that one needs and that is OK, too.

Tsee Lee, A.M.ASCE

New York City

Seek new opportunities with your current employer. If you find yourself still restless, start looking – even if you end up staying. Then you may have fewer questions about what-ifs.

Keep your resume current. It'll remind you of your victories and what you enjoy.

Stu Walesh, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE (Ret.), Dist.M.ASCE

Valparaiso, Indiana

My early-in-my-career “big picture” story –

During the late 1960s I was struggling to decide if I should continue engineering graduate studies. I was troubled by a conversation I had with my grandmother when I was 27 years old and still in school. She and I had a great relationship, beginning in my childhood. She was a hard-working, kind, and classy lady whose formal education ended with the fifth grade.

During a visit with her, she asked me what I was doing, and I said I was at the university studying engineering. Her abrupt response, clearly remembered 50 years later: “Stuart, you are 27 years old and don't have a job. What a shame.”

That hurt. Was I studying to avoid work or to prepare for it?

At that time, by a great coincidence, I stumbled across engineering professor Hardy Cross’ 1952 book Engineers and Ivory Towers. I read many insightful thoughts such as, paraphrased, “an engineer cannot know a little about everything until he/she first learns much about one thing” and “thoroughly explore a topic, find out what has been done, what should be done, what can be done.”

Cross' book helped me realize that I enjoyed being a student, in the broad sense of the word. I wanted to be a perpetual student, which meant I better find employment situations in which I could be a “student.” And I did – in academia, government, and business. Cross put me on a student-for-life-track, and I never got off.


Join the conversation on ASCE Collaborate.