Posts filed under ‘Fun Stuff’

How to Make the “Age Issue” a “Non-Issue” When Searching for a New Civil Engineering Job

George Burns

Age to me means nothing. I can’t get old; I’m working. I was old when I was twenty-one and out of work. As long as you’re working, you stay young. When I’m in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age.” – George Burns

So last week I authored a blog titled, “From Civil Engineer to…,” which discussed some of the different careers civil engineering professionals have transitioned into as a result of being laid off in the midst of this recession.  We posted this blog on dozens of LinkedIn discussion boards that generated some lively conversation and we learned of a number of folks who are now doing something new.  For those that have been able to find an opportunity again within the profession, we uncovered that many of them are making less than they were prior to being laid off.  But a reoccurring theme within those discussions came from those engineers with 35+ years of experience; they are frustrated with what they see as age discrimination, and as a result are not being hired…or even considered for hire.  I am not here to fight the age discrimination battle as I have no desire to, nor do I have the credentials.  But I would like to use this opportunity to challenge those who are 55+ (and those who are on their way)  to help them become more marketable so that any thought of age discrimination is thrown out the window.   Here is a sampling of some of the comments that I extracted from the elder statesmen of the civil engineering community on the discussion boards:

“It seems like such a waste that the industry has tossed so many engineers and lost a generation of knowledge and mentoring. On a more personal level, I am frustrated, feeling that two educations are not being used and that I have lost some prime earning years. “We” have always been told get a science degree or two and it will be OK, you will always be employed and live the dream. Well, that isn’t true.”

“I haven’t gone anywhere…..I am still here, water and wastewater consulting experience of 30+ years. Trying to sell my services as a sole proprietor to prospective clients, or as an experienced client manager to professional services firms is about as rewarding as selling refrigerators to Eskimos”

“However, as is obtained nowadays employers are increasingly bypassing more experienced civil engineers for younger just out of school candidates and expecting them to do senior /experienced engineer work only because they fear they can’t pay more highly experienced engineers. However they should not fear experience;”

“I am presently working with a group of seasoned professionals that can handle just about any problem with little direction. What a difference in the caliber of design product! The client knows and appreciates that quality and I am confident they will continue to use our service. Managers should be aware of the value of that quality and the little comparative cost difference as a percentage of the entire project, it represents. “

“Companies were happy to have me a few years ago, but the work seems to have dried up now I have turned 60”

“Maybe its time to start a consultancy employing only over 60s…and show the kids we’ve still got it!”

As most of you know, I have made a career out of recruiting civil engineering professionals, and these same frustrations are often conveyed to me by those professionals in the 55+ crowd.  That said, I have also been successful in placing professionals who merely based upon their graduation dates or the gray hair on their head may be considered to be “over the hill.”    Here are some of the single traits that I have found that makes these “silver-haired” experts look “platinum” :

PLATINUM:  They take good care of themselves physically and still find time exercise on a regular basis.  When they arrive for meetings they still wear a suit…with a tie.
SILVER:  They have “let themselves go” and believe that their breadth of experience is all that matters.
POINT BEING:  Looks and presentation do  matter, and first impressions are often, well, first impressions.

PLATINUM:  They have somehow found a way to keep that “fire” burning in their belly.  They continue to search for creative solutions and opportunities to differentiate themselves, and their companies, from the competition.
SILVER:  They are stuck in their old ways and believe if something worked just fine a decade ago it will work fine today.  They are looking to ride slowly off into the sunset.
POINT BEING:  Companies and clients want innovation; they want someone who is continuously looking for ways to make things even better. They want people who enjoy taking on challenges and have the continued desire to learn and grow.

PLATINUM:  They are very active in their local and national associations.  That is, they seek out opportunities to present to their professional community, and when given those opportunities they are engaging and memorable.  They keep up with their network and with networking…in good times and in bad.
SILVER:  They limit their professional interaction to those that surround them in the office and at client meetings.
POINT BEING:  You’ve heard of old adage, “location, location, location,” right?  Same concept.

PLATINUM:  They are flexible.  That is, they are open to relocation, travel, or TDY.
SILVER:  9-5, no longer than a 30 minute commute, not willing to travel.
POINT BEING:  The more flexible you are, the more opportunities exist.

PLATINUM: They have become experts in niche services (i.e. rail/transit, tunneling, process engineering, long-span bridge, ITS, green infrastructure, etc) that are subsets of a broader industry focus.  They have mastered the art of Project Execution Delivery / Program Management / Operations / Business Development.
SILVER:  They continue to hold Project Manager roles on bread-and-butter projects.
POINT BEING:  Do you know how many Land Development Project Managers there are?

PLATINUM:  They are mentors; and memorable and effective ones at that.
SILVER:  Focuses purely on themselves.
POINT BEING:   People you mentor will remember you when opportunities arise.  Business owners will hire you to mentor their younger staff so they can more on driving sales.  Companies will hire you to fill the gap between the existing aging leadership and the next generation of leaders. Catch my drift?

PLATINUM:  They have found / earned their way into larger and higher profile projects which increase their industry exposure…and they have experienced success.
SILVER:  They are constantly content and show no desire to grow or be challenged.
POINT BEING:  Are you a tortoise running a marathon, or are you a rabbit looking for the next sprinting race? And if you are the tortoise in the marathon, are you willing to turn on the after-burners from time-to-time?

It’s no secret that there are plenty of companies out there who shy away from hiring those professionals with “too much experience (wink, wink).”  And for or many companies, there are valid reasons why they are not willing to hire someone with 35+ years of experience.   No matter what the perception or reality may or may not be on this topic, my desire is to share some of my insight that comes from nearly 16 years of experience in recruiting AEC professionals.  With all the “platinum” and “silver” in this blog, my hope is that I have provided you with a little nugget of GOLD that may make a difference for you or someone you know.

And in line with  the quote at the beginning of this blog, may vitality sweep over YOU and may potential employers forget about YOUR age.

Comments and lively discussion  always welcome.

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 5, 2012 at 10:43 am 7 comments

From Civil Engineer to…

With the recent recession beginning to fade further  in the rear view mirror, many civil engineering firms are struggling to find available talent.  As the economy improves and we are beginning to conduct searches in regions or specialty areas (i.e. land development) that we have distanced ourself from over the past few years, we have found that many of the civil engineering professionals we used to network with on a  regular basis have disappeared into thin air.  Not really.  But they have left the civil engineering consulting industry in order to make ends meet after being laid off.   Rather than scouring the country for available opportunities only to compete with dozens of other candidates who share their same story, they chose to do something different.  So without further ado, here are some great examples that we have unearthed from our national network of civil engineering professionals…

…they have gone from civil engineer to:

  • Middle School Science Teacher
  • Pastor
  • Youth Minister
  • Attorney
  • Leather Apparel / Accessory Manufacturer and Retailer
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Home Remodeling Contractor / Business Owner
  • Microbrewery Owner
  • Equipment Manufacturing Sales Rep
  • Civil Engineering Software Sales Rep
  • Corporate Real Estate Development

Most, if not all of these people were FORCED out of the industry and had no other options. But as a result, they uncovered new skills and a new passion for something completely different that provides food for the family, and for some, food for the soul!

I would not wish the unemployment line on anyone,
as I know it can be an extremely difficult life challenge.

Maybe they had one foot out the door anyway regarding
their level of interest in their civil engineering career, but none-the-less,
these people made lemonade out of lemons.

Please share with our readership any career transitions that you or your civil engineering peers have made as a result of being laid off. Was it worth it? Or was that transition just a stop gap until such a time that a suitable opportunity presents itself back in civil engineering? Please let us know, we would love to hear from you!

Authored by:

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm 13 comments

Engineering the Olympic Park in London

Aerial view of London Olympic Village

Earlier this year I posted a blog regarding the infrastructure boom in Brazil with the anticipation of the World Cup for Soccer and for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.  The amount of infrastructure engineering and construction required to satisfy the masses is an amazing feat to me.

As you know, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games recently concluded and The Institute of Civil Engineers  has produced a video titled, “Engineering the Olympic Park.”

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, I would highly recommend taking a look at this video;  if it does not give you a sense of pride as an engineer, or if you are a future engineer and it does not inspire you, I am not sure what will.

Imagine trying to deliver a project the magnitude of an Olympic Village in a major city with all its day-to-day operations, and imagine delivering the project where pushing back the final deadline is absolutely not an option.  On top of it the Olympic Village was built mainly on a post-industrial brownfield site which presents many challenges in-and-of itself.  The team that delivered this project did so safely, on time and on budget.

To give you a sense of the magnitude of this project, Howard Shiplee, Director of Construction for the Olympic Delivery Authority says this in the video:

“In order to successfully deliver the Olympics you have to mobilize your nation as if you were going to war.”

Take a look at this video that showcases to the world what engineers are capable of!

Authored by:

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

August 22, 2012 at 9:11 am 2 comments

Civil Engineers – Enjoy the One Project at a Time Lifestyle as Long as You Can

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

This is a guest blog post by Anthony Fasano, P.E.  Anthony is a civil engineer, engineering career coach, bestselling author and founder of Powerful Purpose Associates.

Anthony is giving away a special webinar for readers on his Powerful Purpose Associates website.  Read until the end of the post to find out how to get it.

WARNING:  You most likely will have to work on more than one project at a time in your civil engineering career, except for maybe the first few years.

I remember when I first graduated from school, I started doing structural engineering because it seemed cool to me at the time and I didn’t even know what site engineering was yet, which would eventually be my chosen discipline.  I was designing the footings and abutments for a bridge.  The design lasted for months (it felt like years) and I couldn’t wait for the next project.  If I had to sketch out one more rebar layout, I was going to jump off a bridge (no pun intended).

Fast-forward about 10 years, I was now an associate partner at a reputable engineering firm, heading up their private/site development engineering department.  The department wasn’t too big, maybe 10 people or so, however I found myself managing 15 to 20 projects at one time.  15 to 20 projects meant 15 to 20 clients, 15 to 20 budgets, 15 to 20 bills to be done, 15 to 20 bills that haven’t been paid, oh yeah and my favorite, 15 to 20 Town Planning Board Meetings!  I loved what I did and I was good at it, but it was very stressful and took a toll on both my health and my personal life.

A few years ago, I made a bold decision, and left my design-engineering career behind to become an engineering career coach.  Since that time I have coached and helped hundreds of engineers to get clear on their goals, increase productivity and improve work-family balance.  I have also given seminars to thousands of engineers on the same topics.  Through all of this work, I have found that there is 1 HUGE OBSTACLE that engineers face in their efforts to achieve career success (which means something different to everyone).

First let me give you the biggest make-believe obstacle that everyone uses as an excuse – TIME MANAGEMENT.  Time management isn’t really the obstacle that most engineers face.  The obstacle leads to poor time management, but it is not related to time management.  The #1 obstacle that engineers face in their career is LACK OF FOCUS.  That’s right LACK OF FOCUS.  Sound familiar?  Are you able to read through an entire e-mail without getting a phone call?  Are you able to finish a design task or report on one project before a client calls with a fire that you have to put out?

The answer to those questions is probably “NO!” How many of you would love to go back in time, just for a day, to when you started your engineering career so that you could work on just one task all day long without interruption?  Go ahead and raise your hand – I have mine raised!

So what can we do to try to improve our focus?  Here are a few recommendations based on my work with engineers and my study of this topic:

1.    Establish some of your most important tasks for the day and do them before you do ANYTHING else.  When deciding on these tasks, assume that you would only be able to get those tasks done that day – if that was the case would the day be a success?

2.    Try to do less things.  I know what you are thinking, if my job is to manage 15 projects, how can I do less.  Make a list of everything you do and wherever possible start delegating tasks.

3.    Space meetings and phone conferences out.  Engineers try to be as efficient as possible and schedule phone calls and meetings one after the other to avoid dead space in their day.  Unfortunately this approach often leads to rushed meetings or missed conference calls and keeps you in that “I have to hurry because I have something right after this” mentality.

4.    Don’t let other people manage your time (as much as possible).  Check e-mail and phone messages periodically (even if it’s every 30 minutes) but not as they come in!  This one habit alone can change your life.  I know because I made the change.

That leads me to an important word – HABIT.  Implementing changes like these listed above would mean creating new habits in your career and life.  Easier said than done.  Through my studies and work with engineers I have discovered some ways that you can implement powerful new habits like these into your life.  There isn’t enough time in this post to explain them, however I have recorded a special brief webinar for readers where I review the key steps to take to implement these or any career and life changing habits.  You can download this webinar right now on my Powerful Purpose Associates website.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 19, 2012 at 9:45 am 3 comments

Are You Capable of Becoming a Civil “Lin”gineer?

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

Whether you are a New York Knicks fan, a basketball fan, a sports fan in general, or not a sports fan at all, I trust you have at least heard the name “Jeremy Lin” over the past couple of weeks.

Jeremy Lin grew up in the United States and led his Palo Alto High School basketball team to the California Division II High School hoops title.  There are over 300 Division 1 colleges in the United States and do you know how many basketball scholarships he was offered? Zero. Zilch. Nada.  He ended up playing ball at Harvard where he averaged  16.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.4 steals his senior season.  A star in the Ivy League, he entered the NBA Draft and do you know how many phone calls he got? Zero. Zilch. Nada.  He did enter the NBA as an undrafted free agent and prior to his joining the New York Knicks earlier this year he was cut two times in 15 days.  Imagine getting hired, getting fired, being lucky enough to find another job quickly, and then being fired again…all within 15 days!  The Knicks eventually picked him up, and due to injuries of two of their star players, Lin left the confines of the last seat at the end of the bench with the obscure view and finally got his chance.  He came off the bench and scored 25 points, leading his team to victory.  Two nights later he got his first career start and  tallied 28 points.  And then, in his first start on the road he scored a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists.  There is so much more to this story, but it’s a great story and he has been the Knicks star player ever since he had the opportunity to get in that first game.

This is a story about opportunity that we can all learn from.  Maybe you’ve been hired and fired or laid off by a couple of civil engineering firms; maybe you are being pigeonholed into a task or technical skill set that forces you to maintain a low profile; maybe you are in a corporate culture that is not your cup-of-tea; or maybe there are too many layers or too many other more experienced co-workers insulating you from advancement…maybe you are sitting at the end of the bench at your company.  You know your potential, you have great ideas as to how to achieve great success, you know how to make other people successful, you are just waiting in the wings to seize that opportunity.  Your opportunity will come – you just have to find it.  And if that opportunity does not come to you – then you need to go to IT.   Maybe your supervisor is promoted or moves on to another company – use that opportunity for a little self promotion and request that opportunity to take his or her place.  Maybe you are contacted by a recruiter for an opportunity that may better position yourself for that next step in your career taking you one step closer to your full potential – return that call!  My point is – don’t ever lose site of your goals – keep working hard and doing good work and treating people right; but don’t work so hard with your nose so close to the grindstone that you never look up to see that opportunity.  Hone your craft technically; find a mentor; engage in networking events; give presentations.  This way, when a path is cleared for you, no matter how tight it may be, you are able to take advantage of it and do great things, just like Jeremy Lin has.

And this is how you can become a Civil “Lin”gineer.  Hmmm, I wonder if I can trademark that?

Now, when this does happen, don’t expect to amass over half-a-million Twitter followers in less than two weeks like Jeremy Lin (chances are you are probably not even on twitter).  And don’t expect your first set of plans you stamped to sell on eBay for $21 G’s (as did Jeremy Lin’s rookie basketball card).  And don’t expect to make the cover of ENR two weeks in row (Jeremy’s face recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated for two consecutive weeks)…though one day, that just may happen!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

February 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm 3 comments

Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo Winner Announced

The Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo contest was spawned a few years back when the aggressive onset of social media and when the concept of corporate branding was at the top of every business owner or marketing executive’s “to do” list.  No longer are logo’s seen on just business cards, brochures, and corporate stationary, but they are now subject to the scrutiny of electronic media – be it email signatures, corporate websites, corporate social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, corporate recruiting sites, job boards, etc.  With the amount of exposure companies get these days, the importance of a firm’s logo and how it is incorporated into the cumbersome electronic world for all to see, we felt that a Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo contest was warranted.

In judging the dozens of entries that we received, we looked at a number of different criteria:

A.    Immediate impact
B.    Is it memorable (in a positive way)?
C.    Is it appealing to the eye?
D.    Accuracy in depicting the services of the company
E.    Effectiveness  in depicting the corporate and employment branding initiatives of the company

Taking all the criteria into consideration, without further ado, this year’s winner of’s Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo is:

With dozens of entries to choose from, there were a few front-runners, but Woolpert ended on top.  This is Woolpert’s first time entering our contest, and with their recent re-design they scored very high on all the criteria. 

“Woolpert is very proud to be the recipient of Civil Engineering Central’s Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo. As we wrapped up our 100th year in business, it is rewarding to see that rigorous efforts to update our logo are being recognized in the industry.” – Jocelyn Hodson,  Woolpert

We would like to thank all of those firms who entered our 3rd Annual “Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo” Contest and we look forward to the next contest at the end of this year!  CONGRATULATIONS WOOLPERT!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm Leave a comment

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 from

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

For the 2nd consecutive year the blog has amassed over 51,000 visitors…not too shabby considering that in 2008, the blog’s first year of existence, we had just over 16,000 visitors!

Thanks to all of our readers for reading, sharing, contributing and commenting.  The goal of this blog is to discuss a wide array of topics specifically as they relate to the civil engineering community.  Typical topics include project management,  civil engineering job search, hiring, civil engineering projects, education, marketing, civil engineering career paths, career advancement, client development, social networking for civil engineers, civil engineering infrastructure, licensure and certification, training and development, etc.   

Beyond the home page of the blog which receives the most visitors, below is the list of the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011:

1.      Hiring and Job Interviews Gone WILD!  A Few True Tales from the Civil Engineering Job Search Archives

2.      Are You Having as Much Fun as This Guy?

3.      The Civil Engineering Boss Who “Knows it All”

4.      Top 9 Most Recent “C’mon Man” Moments in Civil Engineering Recruiting

5.      Civil Engineering “Dream” Projects

6.      Conversation With a Civil Engineer

7.      Civil Engineers:  Laid Off? Now What?

8.      Is Your Civil Engineering Firm Getting Squeezed?

9.      Negotiating the Non-Sense in Your Non-Compete

10.   Civil Engineers:  It’s Time to Get Organized from A-to-Z

From the bottom of our hearts here at, we truly thank you for the time you take to visit our blog.  May you and yours have a safe and joyous Holiday Season and an amazingly prosperous 2012!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

December 27, 2011 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

3rd Annual “Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo” Contest



logo contest logo - CEC


  1. All nominated logos (tag lines should be included if you have one) must be from civil engineering firms who operate within the United States.
  2. If the logo has a story behind it, we would like to know about it.
  3. Logo nominations can be submitted via:

LINKEDIN: By responding directly to our announcements you see on any LinkedIn groups


Logos will be judged on a sliding scale based on the following criteria:

  1. Does the logo make an immediate impact by grabbing one’s attention right off the bat?
  2. Is the logo memorable? Is it uniquely applicable to what the firm does – enough so that it will positively embed itself in the memory of clients, employees, peers, etc?
  3. Is the logo appealing to the eye?
  4. Does the logo accurately represent the company and its services?
  5. Does the nominated logo accurately represent the firm’s corporate and employment branding initiatives?


  1. Ron Worth
    Chief Executive Officer
    Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS)
  2. Dusty Burchnall
    2 Fish
  3. Matt Barcus
    Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  4. Carol Metzner
    Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of


Contest winner will be notified by during the week of October 30th, 2011. Winner will receive:

  1. Corporate logo prominently displayed on CivilEngineeringCentral.coms December 2011 e-Newsletter (13,000+ distribution).
  2. One month as sponsor on ourLinkedIn Groupe-update, “The LinkedIngineer.” This e-update goes out twice a month to all 5,300 (and growing!) members of the Civil Engineering Central Group on LinkedIn.
  3. 10 free job postings on + Featured Employer upgrade.
  4. Bragging rights until next year 🙂


All entries must be received by October 31,  2011


Gist, Criteria, Judges, Prizes & Deadline are subject to change without notice as determined by A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

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September 7, 2011 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

Civil Engineers: It’s Time to Get Organized from A to Z

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

I read a book not too long ago entitled Getting Things Done by David Allan.  The book provides strategies and an overall process for getting organized and becoming more productive.  One strategy that I’ve been able to take from this book and not only use myself, but also help engineers to implement through coaching is David’s A to Z filing system.

It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day.  Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office.  Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we’ll take a whole day and clean out our office which usually consists of throwing most of these items out.  Does this sound familiar?

David’s A to Z system is a great process that will help you to get and STAY organized.  Here is how it works.  Start by designating one large filing drawer or an entire filing cabinet for you’re A to Z system.  Fill the cabinet with 26 hanging folders and label them A through Z.  Next, start making a list of all of the items that you might file away (i.e. example, specifications, estimates, manufacturers information, stormwater guidelines, etc.).  Then create a file folder for each one of these items and be sure to label them clearly.  Then the fun part begins.  Starting with your desk begin to file away items into the proper folders.  You may have to create new folders along the way or slightly modify the system over the first few weeks.  For example, you might have to decide on whether you want to use the word ‘drainage’ or ‘stormwater’ which will determine whether that folder ends up in ‘D’ or ‘S.’

After a few weeks of implementing this system, your office will be clean!  Then you just have to work on keeping it clean, which is pretty easy with this system.  As items come across your desk simply file them into the proper folder or create a new one, when necessary.

You may think that this system is extremely simplistic and actually it is.  I have successfully implemented this system both in my office and in my home and I never have a problem finding something.  I hope this tip is helpful for you can bring more balance to both your career and your life.

Please share any organizational strategies that you are currently using!

August 23, 2011 at 11:08 am 14 comments


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn


As a Search Consultant specializing in the civil engineering profession,  I speak to dozens of civil engineers on a daily basis discussing with them their careers, their employers, their projects, what motivates them, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes about their job, their career goals, etc.  When discussing their motivation for exploring new opportunities one thing I hear from time-to-time is how they would like to find an opportunity that is “fun.”    I am sure I just got a few chuckles there as the concept of having fun in one’s career is buried by deadlines, stress, non-stop meetings, overbearing bosses, needy employees, critical clients who are never satisfied, and pressure from outside shareholders who barely know what a civil engineer is…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!   Everyone’s perception of fun is different, but is there REALLY a way to have fun as a civil engineering consultant?

Well, according to civil engineer and professional career coach Anthony Fasano, PE, civil engineers CAN have fun, and they SHOULD have fun.  Here is what Anthony had to say to me on this very topic:

” It’s amazing when I coach engineers on career growth and development, how many of them think fun and work can’t go together.  My question to them is, why would you want to do something for 40 plus hours a week if it’s not enjoyable?

Many professionals ask, how can I make my career more fun?  First of all, if you are passionate about what you do, you will have a lot of fun.  Another tip I always give engineers is to get out there and network.  Build relationships in your industry through professional societies and other networking groups.  Do it with the goal of building lasting relationships and you will find that your days are much more enjoyable.  Building personal relationships in your industry can greatly increase your level of enjoyment.  Don’t just join these organizations, get involved!

You only get one career, why shouldn’t it be fun?”

So as you ponder your career and some different ways that you can inject some fun into it, take a look at Chris Stone’s Summary below.  Chris is the President of Clark Nexsen, a 90+ year old AE firm based out of Norfolk, VA.    I uncovered Chris’ profile on LinkedIn, and his profile was the inspiration for this blog…check it out:

 LinkedIn Summary
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel public schools on my lunch breaks, making them more energy efficient. I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I am the subject of numerous documentaries.

When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. After work, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

Bottom line, I enjoy life and do not take myself too seriously.

Chris’ summary is taken from one of the most quotable texts found on the internet,  Hugh Gallagher’s famous College Application Essay.  Now I’ve never spoken to Chris, but after reading his profile summary on LinkedIn, if he truly looks through his lens on life with that perspective,  I would bet that his career success can been partially attributed to his ability to have fun.  So the question remains,

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May 17, 2011 at 9:01 am 2 comments

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