I’m 31 years old. That’s young in a numerical sense, but the creaks and groans I make getting out of bed tell a drastically different story.
Still, at my “young” age, taking over as editor of pme is a daunting challenge. It’s a test I’ve enjoyed during the first six weeks on the job and one I look forward to six months from now and onward.
It’s a job I never would have been prepared to tackle if it weren’t for the steady stream of mentors I’ve had since college began way back in the fall of 2000. By no means is mentoring a new idea. In fact, it’s one of the world’s oldest ideas. As a society we learn from one another or we don’t advance. And that’s why I believe mentoring is more important than ever in our industry today.
As high school and college students start the journey to deciding on a career path, the plumbing field I'm guessing doesn’t rate high on the list. And I don’t believe I’m out of turn when I say some fellow members of my generation aren’t willing to embrace certain aspects of life and work. There always will be some of the under-35 crowd searching for the “glamorous” life.
But, MEP engineering and design is critically important and has a wide array of aspects that can be embraced. The drive to save water and energy is not going to stop. Guiding the next generation, giving the tools and the talent to continue to help shape the world we work and live in is crucial.
It’s great to see associations such as ASPE and ASHRAE making sure young engineers have a place within each group. ASPE has its Young Professionals division, while ASHRAE has its Young Engineers in ASHRAE group to give the future leaders a place to grow.
Daniel Gurley, ASHRAE’s manager of marketing, reports each of the group’s 175 chapters have YEA members and activities. Recently, the group, which comprises more than 4,000 out of the 54,000 total ASHRAE members, did an internal survey and found that 60% of chapter leadership comes from YEA members (anyone under 35).
At YEA, pairing up mentor and protégé is done through a survey that asks questions of young professionals and what they desire to get out of the relationship. From there it’s up to the duo to make it flourish.
“It’s organic after we help them find the relationship. From there we leave it to grow on its own,” Gurley says. “If you try and force mentoring, it never really works. To this day some of our veteran society members still reference mentors they had when they were younger.”
Everyone has pride. Asking for help, or even just recognizing you need help, can feel embarrassing. No matter how hard you might fight it, you’re going to have to seek out answers and guidance at some point during your career.
Why not start early?
Why not make a connection with someone who has the knowledge?
Trust me, it’ll lead you places you never thought were possible.