Professional Development through Engineering Gatherings and why you should plan to attend

Many engineering organisations, at this moment, will be bubbling with excitement as fliers and adverts are rolled out in preparation for the later part of the year when they will be holding their national, international conferences. A lot of engineers will be planning to attend at least one of them; while some are undecided and wonder why they should. But there is more to just putting money down and planning to attend a conference. In this piece, Isqil Najim explores the benefits of attending conferences and professional gatherings.

At every engineering conference/gathering, among the thousands expected at the event will be those who are probably attending for the first time. Either as new members or as fresh graduates. There are also those who have been regular participants and are looking forward to another fruitful outing. To this later group, every new gathering is a new experience.

Many newbies often wonder why people attend such gatherings. What is there to learn after you have already registered and qualified as a professional engineer? Or you have already bagged postgraduate degrees in addition to acquiring many certifications. It is not just among young professionals that this thought pattern is common but also among the practising professionals who barely create time to mingle with their colleagues outside their work environment.

Why should you attend professional Conferences/Gatherings?

  1. Attending will enhance one’s knowledge of upcoming and ongoing research projects submitted by experts in the industry.
  2. Engineering and Technologies change in application and, attending conferences help to broaden your perspective on those changes and those who are involved in the new projects.
  3. Engineers love to solve problems and present a solution to them. To give solutions, one needs ideas and you can sometimes gain ideas by attending conferences. You can gain knowledge and get to know new ways and new methods to process a problem.
  4. According to Engr. Margaret Oguntala, “In an age where collaborations and partnership are integral to success, Engineers need networking”. As the saying goes, like-minded people mingle with each other easily as they have similar interests and also get similar like-minded outlooks and results which can be very beneficial for their projects. Conferences provide such opportunities for those who are prepared for them. You must however be intentional in your action before reaping this benefit.
  5. Attending Conference can also add value to the resume and makes you stand out among other applicants. It shows you as someone who values knowledge and engages in continuing professional development.
  6. Sometimes, getting a break from regular work or routine gives way to refreshed minds and new, creative ideas. It helps you think calmly and freshly and get new motivation. Conferences attendance offers such an opportunity, especially when hosted in another city or country.
  7. Even if you are a professor, you will still experience your teachable moment. One such moment will come through interactions and feedback about your works, speech or comments if you are open enough to network among the right people and listen to them. Nothing helps a professional gain a broader perspective of their works, projects, or idea than honest feedback.
  8. Diversity is another reason to attend a conference. Many of us are familiar with the people around us. Over familiarity breeds contempt. When we leave our comfort zone and talk to strangers who do not share the same attributes, tribes, religion, or geography with us, we gain valuable social skills that enhance our emotional intelligence, tolerance and ability to break new ground in unfamiliar territory.

In addition, I recommend that people should also look out for professionals who are physically challenged. This set of people has a rare insight into human nature. there is always something amazing to learn from their endurance, motivation and conquering spirits. You learn to be appreciative of others, show gratitude and respect your team.

Since the 1970s, I’ve been a big fan of attending conferences as a great way to learn, network, socialize and enjoy a new environment. It’s always refreshing to get out and see a whole new world.—Mark Skousen

Benefits of attending Engineering Conference to Young engineers

  1. Conferences can help you meet their role models since many experts, professionals attend these Conferences. You might as well stumble on that famous engineer you have often read about in the news and have a chance for interaction. Some of these chance encounters can be life-changing. I am a living witness to the effectiveness of this.
  2. Conferences are also mostly informal and friendly affairs rather than those typical formal or dull meetings. So, a new person or a fresher feels comfortable with the environment.
  3. A teachable moment that stirs humility. You are sitting next to this old man wearing simple attire and listening to the next speaker. You picked up a conversation. Both of you responded like buddies. At the end of the speech, you approach the man to ask about his details. Phew, he is the MD of a company you have always wanted to work with. Surprised, you wonder how easy it is to converse with such a person. In truth, there are so many such moments at professional gatherings if you are polite and raise intelligent and valid conversation. You never know that man (young or old) in simple cloth maybe your life-changing moment of learning about humility and opening new opportunities.
  4. Conferences will benefit all those attending it since everyone present there can show their projects or researches and could know the pros and cons of it at an early stage and rectify if needed with the help of professionals or experts present there.
  5. Interns and freshers do get a golden opportunity to understand the ways and techniques the professionals pursue and use the same ways in their projects/research works. Also, these Conferences help in knowing about the latest findings before even it is published.

And the biggest of all, a young professional may strike gold at a professional gathering if he plays his cards well. Here is how: using a real-life example. One of our young engineers at EngiCOM attended a public lecture organised by one of the professional bodies. I specifically invited him, but I did not have much time to attend to him as I was busy as part of the organizing committee members. At that event, he sat next to a gentleman who has also came for the same event. The two struck conversation innocently. Starting with his offer to help hold a pen. It was the pen that led to the conversation that followed. In the process, the gentleman found that the young man is quite brilliant and he loved his analysis even though they did not quite agree with everything.

After the event, they exchanged contacts. The gentleman looked him up on Linkedin and assessed his skills. A few weeks later, the young man got a job interview invitation. No application and nothing. He called to ask if I gave someone his contact as he didn’t apply for the job. Upon further investigation, we found that the job offer came from the same man he met at the event. the man has recommended him to their HR.

One of the greatest advantages of attending professional gatherings is Networking and it matters a lot because through networking you come to know the other people in your field and get their advice and support. If I attend a professional gathering and I did not make at least, a new network, I see my participation as missing a target. He or she doesn’t have to be a big man.

Sometimes, the network will come through a young and inexperienced person. Trust me, many young and inexperienced professionals can also bring fresh insight into dialogue and push you to think, and reevaluate your ideals. Sometimes, they come with unusually raw ideas that needed expert intervention.

Local and International Conference will also help one to improve personality grooming skills. Soft skills which play a major role in career development can be learned from various people by attending professional gatherings. You learn to hone and develop your communication skills and build your confidence.

Exhibitions are another reason to attend. Many companies buy stands to showcase their products and services at conference venues, Among these products are those that are not in your domain. You will have the chance and opportunity to meet the manufacturers or their representatives or those behind the ideas goods or services. This will create a direct opportunity to explore prospects, partnerships and patronage.

Conferences can be fun and at the same time very useful for the persons who pursue to gain knowledge from every hook and corner. So what next? Plan your next conference! But before then, what should you do to ensure that you are ready to maximize all the opposites Watch out for my next posts on the subject. Oh, You don’t have money to attend? Watch out for my next article on how to raise funds to attend any conference.

My name is isqil Najim, a Mechanical Engineer. I can be reached at Follow me on Twitter @ isqilnajim


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