As the school year is about to commence, students around the globe are about to get a first taste at engineering. It is no secret, engineering is difficult. It requires hard work, dedication, and perhaps most importantly, passion. Throughout your years studying your specific discipline of engineering, there are some critical things to keep in mind to become more successful as an engineer.
While it may seem obvious, and it likely is, it is imperative to work hard at your studies. However, it goes beyond the books of mindless studying. While memorizing may have worked in high school, and perhaps even in first year, it will not work forever. Engineering requires more than memorizing a book. It requires critical thinking and analyzing to develop a solution using multiple methods, things that extend far beyond the reaches of any textbook. Understanding the material enables you to inspect and explore new options that could lead to an entirely new solution, making you successful as an engineer.
While working hard is a great starting point, spending countless hours without learning anything wastes your precious time. Ideally, while you may find another method that works, the solution I found to be most efficient is to dedicate a set amount of time each day to tackle the week's work. First, attempt the problems. If you come across an issue, take a look at the examples and try and understand how it works. Should that fail, resort to your notebook to find more information. At the end, if all else fails, talk to a classmate or your prof- make sure to ask specific questions! No one likes to guess what you don't know- find out a specific area to ask about. Using this method, you will use as little time as possible, saving you time, and keeping you happy.
Manage Your Time
By now, it should be obvious that studying is crucial to your success. With that, you should ensure each day you have a time-slot to do your work efficiently. Figure out what times work best for you, and which times you are most effective. Book that time off each day- at least one hour of hard work a day. Perhaps one day you will do more, maybe some will be less. While you study, have all the materials you need nearby, and a snack and drink as well. Eat the snack after time intervals, every 15 minutes or so. Your body will automatically build up a reward signal and make your studying much easier. After a couple days, it will become habitual.
Set Time Aside For Fun
Engineering is important, but your life is more important. While during the week you may be too busy, try and go out on Friday or Saturday to have some fun. Sign up for a club you enjoy, or study in a group! Participating will make your experience a lot more enjoyable, helping you along your way through your engineering journey.
Meet New People/Contacts
In a competitive environment, it is absolutely imperative that you meet contacts in your area of interest. Make absolutely certain you attend all events at your university in which the company(ies) you wish to work for is/are attending. Particularly at job fairs, companies will often send the same people year after year, sometimes multiple times to reach out to students. Talking with them increases your chances of getting a job. Inquire about opportunities, and what you can do to increase your chances at obtaining a job. Perhaps there are co-op placements available, or maybe there is an internship open- ask these questions directly to the representative, even if you know the answer. In this way, you will demonstrate your ambition and interest- both desirables for employers.
Dress For Success
While every student has experienced the lazy days in which you wear nothing but your pajamas, only staying awake from the grossly oversized coffee you had, you should still always have professional clothes on hand. Specifically, at any job fair or other convention, make sure to dress professionally. The little details matter, cut fingernails, and especially clean, polished shoes. People's first impressions are generally derived from first glances at the hands and shoes so it is critical to present them in a formal way. Not only will it impress potential employers, dressing proper places you in a mindset in which you feel successful- believing you can or are successful is half the battle.
Do Not Give Up!
As mentioned time and time again, it will be a hard, long journey. Some students may have been 90%ers in high school, however, that does not translate into success at engineering. Engineering requires thinking in new, ingenuitive ways, seeking for solutions or improvements in new areas never achieved before. It is those that discover new ways to think and learn that will become successful. On that journey to discovery, however, you may fail, perhaps even for the first time. That may be disheartening- but don't give up! Keep in mind thousands of engineers did it before you, and thousands will do it after. Try, and try again. It is only a failure if you did not learn from it.
While it may be a hard, arduous journey, nothing will feel more gratifying than receiving your diploma. Engineering is one of the most rewarding degrees you can achieve. Following these few tips may help you on your journey to not only becoming an engineer, but becoming a successful one.
Written by Maverick Baker