NACE competency: Digital Technology — Jessica’s Career Tip of the Week

Career readiness is such an important concept in the field of career development, and by applying the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 7 core competencies, you will grow as a future professional, and increase your career readiness levels. Last week, I illustrated the concept of teamwork/collaboration skills. At the present time, I am going to illustrate an integral competency that engineers utilize in their daily lives — Digital Technology. Next, I will define, highlight, and provide examples of this competency.

 According to NACE (2020), digital technology is the ability to “Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.”

Engineers must continue to update and learn new languages as they progress in their professional careers. You may find that you are required to consistently update your knowledge and skillset as you embark on your career path. As programming languages become “outdated”, you will want to continue to learn and enhance your knowledge base.

Every engineer will have their own software or digital technology of choice that assists them to solve problems — whether in the classroom or employment setting. The best part of the modern world that we live in is the multitude of resources out there to guide you as well as the surplus of opportunities to learn new technologies. For example, one of my peer career coaches is studying mechanical engineering, and Matlab is taught here at ASU. She stated that Matlab has many capabilities, and there is an open source platform that can do everything Matlab can do and more. Currently, we have observed that more and more employers are looking for experience in Python, and less are looking for Matlab experience. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to learn Python. Python is also an open source and there are currently free online courses. Another one of my peer coaches, who is studying biomedical engineering stated that she also has to stay updated with different languages. An example that she provided was that in her freshman year curriculum, she learned C++. In several of her courses, she utilized Matlab. Also, in both her summer internships, she will have used Python since engineers are supposed to learn whatever language is relevant and needed for that project.

I will also provide an example of a software engineer who happens to be the father of one my peer career coaches. She mentioned that he works from home and the bookshelves in his office are stacked with books on the different programming languages. If a new project requires for him to learn a new language, then he enrolls in online courses and thoroughly studies them to be able to work on a project. He follows the same protocol when a new language comes out with a new version. Even as a seasoned engineer, he needs to continue to stay relevant in his field in order to be an effective engineer.

My advice to you is to pay close attention to what employers want and what their needs are in the job description. It may be in your best interest to navigate sample job descriptions now so that you have something to work towards while you are a student. Also, make sure to conduct information interviews with employers to assist with gathering information regarding what technology skills you will want to learn and acquire.

The examples provided continues to reinforce that engineers must be lifelong learners and continue to develop and change as we continue to evolve in our daily professional lives. At this time, I would like for you to think about how you can continue to update your technology skills, and also think about how these skills will allow you to solve problems more effectively in the work that you do.

Reference Cited: 

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2020). Retrieved from

**Peer Career Coaches Kira Tijerino and Aarya Mecwan assisted with providing examples for the blog.