The road to becoming an engineer is unique for everyone. For some, part of that journey is enrolling as an engineer-in-training (EIT) – programs offered by the engineering regulators that provide guidance and assistance to engineering graduates as they navigate the process to becoming a fully qualified engineer. In some regions, regulators use other terms such as “engineering interns” or “members-in-training” to refer to individuals who have graduated from an undergraduate engineering program and who are in the process of qualifying for their professional licence.
Prior to applying for their professional engineering licence, engineering graduates are required to obtain several years of relevant work experience over a given period. As such, some graduates set out to acquire this experience as an EIT, an advantage that can open doors faster for licensure and future opportunities.
While registering as an EIT is not mandatory in most provinces, EIT programs are designed to help aspiring engineers streamline the path to licensure and offer valuable resources between post-secondary education and professional licensure.
“I became an EIT because I wanted to learn more about the industry and ensure that I was using the resources that were available to me,” said Jenan Abderrahman, EIT.“ I also felt like it would hold merit at the company I was working for. I felt like it would help me keep my P.Eng. in line of sight. I am the type of person who requires reminders of my goals and being an EIT reminded me that my goal was to get my P.Eng.”
As an EIT, engineering graduates can assume roles and responsibilities directly related to their area of specialization. EITs work at building the necessary competencies for P.Eng. licensure, and gain real-world experience. Those working under the supervision of a professional engineer also receive individual support from an experienced practitioner in their field.
“I’ve been very fortunate to find myself in jobs/roles where I had a team around me that didn’t treat me as though my experiences and views were ’less’ because I don’t have my designation yet,” explained Kristin Lorio, EIT. “For example, in my current position as Particle Lab Coordinator, I am the go-to person for concerns about air quality and emissions. My manager will often defer to me and back up my judgment.”
Though a rewarding experience, the pathway to pursuing an engineering licence can prove challenging for some engineering graduates. Similar to building a résumé of relevant work experience, building a network in the industry proves just as valuable post-graduation. Forming professional connections with peers and professionals can help an individual expand their skillset, find prospective mentors, and foster information sharing. As engineering graduates emerge in the industry, making these connections doesn’t always come easy.
“What I’ve struggled with most is having a much smaller network than some of my classmates.” said Kristin Lorio, EIT. “As the first person in my family to go the engineering route as well as the first person to attend graduate school, I didn’t have anyone to tell me how important it was to focus on making connections in order to find work, research projects, volunteer opportunities, etc.”
Recognizing that EITs may struggle to find a mentor, a number of regulators offer mentorship opportunities. Through these programs, EITs are able to connect with industry professionals who can share their knowledge and skills, help guide them through their work experience and answer any questions about the licensure process.
For other EITs, guidance and insight from a professional engineer and annual reviews of their experience as they work towards the required work experience for licensure is another of the many benefits of the EIT program. Although, managing feedback in a fast-paced work environment as a new professional can be an adjustment.
“Learning how to structure receiving input/guidance from senior engineers and supervisors on my projects into an efficient schedule has been a challenge for me,” says Kear Porttris, EIT. “I know I don’t have all the answers, as my experience is limited, and I just want to close the loop on some project issues as quickly as possible, but the industry is busy and people at all levels are busy, but scheduling regular time with supervisors for feedback on your work is important.”
Through the lens of an EIT, the pathway to a professional engineering licence is a journey filled with valuable learning experiences and career development opportunities. To the engineers of the future considering becoming an EIT, here are some things current EITs want you to know:
- “You are among the engineers of tomorrow and you have the power to shape the profession. Engineering is in need of greater diversity and inclusion, notably at the intersections of BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, and persons with disabilities. If you know young individuals at these intersections, please encourage them to pursue the prerequisite high school courses for engineering so that when the time comes, they have the option to apply to [accredited] engineering programs.” - Michelle Liu (she/her), EIT, MASc, LEED-GA, JD Candidate, Common Law
- “I think it’s important for other EITs to remember that your experience is growing all the time. You may not feel as though you’re the best at what you’re doing yet, but you’re always learning so much. Also, take advantage of all the opportunities that you can to meet other people in engineering, even the ones very far outside of your field. Engineering is the application of science and math to real-world problems in creative ways and having an outside perspective on your work can be incredibly helpful.” - Kirstin Lorio, EIT
- “Learn as much as you can and find good mentors. You don't need to attend networking events to find a great mentor, find someone who understands you and is willing to take the time to help you work through professional obstacles/advancements. My mentor is my supervisor and I rely heavily on him for advice and understanding. We are similar in demeanor and so we get along really well.” - Jenan Abderrahman, EIT
- “Get a mentor. Getting to be a P.Eng. requires oversight but mentorship allows for a more holistic approach that will allow you to learn more than technical skills and knowledge.” - Kear Porttris, EIT
- “Don’t hesitate when presented with opportunities that would result in a lot of change. Be your boldest self when you can and continue to engage with your community of supporters when you take those new steps. Whether it's a new task in your current role that invokes imposter syndrome, a new job in a different industry, or taking on a new direction in the field of engineering that has not been explored before, we need more Future Engineers making these strides.” - Jonique Gardien, EIT
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