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Guest post: Zubin Ajmera
I accept it. I acknowledge it. It’s tough for anyone to decide what to major in. What are the career prospects out there? Will the degree be worth it, and will it eventually help you get a good job?
For me, I might have made the most common and costly mistake: following the herd.
I started my bachelor’s in electrical engineering and by the time I was in my second year, I knew this wasn’t the right fit for me. Too late. I felt I’d wasted my degree and the golden years which I could have spent somewhere else.
I knew I couldn’t afford to make such a mistake for my master’s degree, so I carefully researched every single option available, and I came across industrial engineering (IE).
Today, I want to show you some of the advantages of studying industrial engineering. Many people have little or no idea of what IE is, and the types of work industrial engineers do on a daily basis.
Ultimately, I hope this will help you to determine if industrial engineering is the right major for you.
1. Industrial engineers work in every sector
You will be hearing this a lot. IEs are in virtually every industry vertical today. Manufacturing, technology, hardware, retail, healthcare – you name it and there is a high possibility of industrial engineering jobs.
After working with eight companies, doing internships, projects and full-time jobs, I feel I can confirm that industrial engineering-related work can be found in every company. If you don’t believe it, try this technique I came up with to test the theory. And check out this recent study naming industrial engineering jobs among the most in-demand for 2016.
2. Combine technical skills with business acumen
Many universities offer business classes parallel to IE coursework, in areas such as logistics, supply chain management and analytics. By taking these classes, you get a good grasp of the business side of a company too. Sure, you can take these with any other major, but IE and business complement each other perfectly. This also makes an industrial engineering degree an ideal starting point for an MBA specializing in supply chain management, marketing or finance, which complement the technical aspects of IE.
3. Understand ‘big data’
We all know how important the field of big data is getting. Every company today wants to make better business decisions with their increasing and complex chunks of data.
While working for Mu Sigma, I realized how much data analysis and science can impact a business. Industrial engineering gives you the foundation for work in this domain. Take extra courses and certifications, and you could eventually become a data scientist.
4. Focus on processes
Being in this industry for so long, I know that IE is a relatively less technical field than other engineering majors. What I mean is that industrial engineering is more focused on processes and finding ways to improve processes.
Don’t get me wrong. This by no way means you won’t or cannot work on software, or won’t be involved in coding. However, there is less of the heavy-lifting coding and the focus is more towards process improvement and ways to bring change through strategies such as cost reduction, savings and reducing timings.
5. Customize IE to match your interests
As an industrial engineer, you will always have options to explore and work in different job roles. Want to sit at a computer doing deep data analysis? There are industrial engineering jobs in data analysis and business analysis.
Want to work on a production floor doing manufacturing work? There are jobs in logistics engineering, manufacturing engineering, production, forecasting, among many others.
Want to travel while you work? Consider industrial engineering jobs in consulting and client-facing roles. There are plenty of other options – these are just a few examples.
Still not sure? Ask these three questions to see if industrial engineering is for you.
Zubin has a master’s in industrial engineering and is currently working full time with CEVA Logistics. He has worked with multiple companies in the past, including Revlon, Caterpillar, Mu Sigma and a couple of start-ups. He provides advice for aspiring IE students and professionals at Industrial Inside.