By Kevin Howell

Being a leader has less to do with age and more to do with ability, insight, and innovation. In today’s tech-driven world, young professionals are starting successful companies and taking on key leadership roles.

With the influx of Millennials in the workplace and older engineers nearing retirement age, the industry is getting younger, which presents more leadership opportunities for young engineers like you.

But will you take advantage of these opportunities? And how can you prepare to be a leader?

Here five tips to develop as a leader, even as a young engineer.


If you’re still a student, now is the perfect time to gain leadership experience. There are numerous clubs and organizations where you can take on a leadership position to hone your skills. Likewise, there are projects and competitions for young engineers where you can lead a team of peers and gain recognition by winning an award.

For even more hands-on experience, you can work on an engineer-based community service project through EPICS in IEEE. Students from the IEEE chapter of the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico are using an EPICS grant to design and implement a renewable energy and sustainable development laboratory for high school students and participants in the island’s institute of robotics.


If you’re already in the workforce and looking to distinguish yourself, bringing a new perspective is a great way to establish yourself as a leader and impress your supervisors.

As a young engineer, you have fresh education and new energy that you can use to suggest new solutions and approaches to work projects. Many companies have an established way of doing things, but if you offer methods and ideas that are more efficient and effective, you’ll be seen as a leader.


As a young engineer, you won’t be given leadership tasks, but you can volunteer for them. Any opportunity to take on a new role or join a development group at work is an opportunity to lead.

Likewise, if you join a professional organization, you can volunteer for committees which present valuable leadership and networking opportunities.


Every company has a blog and a newsletter, and writing an article about the latest project or technology is a great way to show your grasp of the work and stand out as an expert.


If you’re going to be a leader, you have to lead people, not just projects. And people will only follow you if they trust you.

Gain trust of coworkers by building personal relationships, offering assistance, and listening to their suggestions and complaints. The better you know people, the better you can lead them.

Companies are always looking for strong leaders. If you prepare now, you can step into a leadership role with ease later. The above tips will help you get started on the path to successful leadership.

One of the best ways to develop as a leader is with hands-on experience. EPICS in IEEE empowers young engineers by helping them apply technical knowledge to solve community challenges. Find out how EPICS can assist you.