I Have Been Working as an Engineer For More Than a Year and Here is What I Learned
I graduated from Washington State University (WSU) in May 2019 with a B.S in Chemical Engineering. I really put all the efforts into my classes and there were semesters that I really struggled and there were easier ones.
Studying Chemical Engineering wasn’t easy, but I did enjoy every moment of it. In university, we took classes that are all based on theory, few labs to see things in action, and then implement them in the final design project. That’s it, we then graduated.
I started working in July 2019 as a Process Engineer trainee, so I have completed more than a year (1 year and 3 months by the time I am writing this), but I have learned many things that I didn’t even think they are important for an engineer.
Here are the things that I have really learned.
1- Communication is very important
I am not really good at communication and I am not a fan of that. At university, I always do my work via emails. Whenever I needed help from a professor or TA (Teaching Assistant), I email them the questions rather than going to their office hours. For some reason, I always hated face-to-face interaction. I always have something in my brain telling me that I will forget to ask something, so it is better to email them. However, I have noticed that I might have that kind of introvert personality.
At work, I have noticed that emails are okay, but not many of them prefer that, so it is crucial to communicate face-to-face. Some people may not be able to explain everything via email so, in both ways, I must communicate with them to get my things done. Therefore, communication as an engineer is very important to perform well at work.
When it comes to communication, presentations are also important to share your messages and results to the people working with you, which is expected. However, I honestly didn’t expect that an engineer should be good at presentation because I didn’t think that presentation would be important like it was in university days. This shocked me a bit because I hate presentations as they make me panic a lot. Yet, I gladly almost overcame this panic. To sum up, communication is very important for an engineer, so if you are a student and you think you are bad at communication, try to build up this skill now.
2- Asking questions is the key to success
We used to ask tons of questions at school, but did I expect that I will do it at work too? Not really! Yes, when you start a new job you will surely ask many questions to handle your tasks. However, what I have noticed from working as an engineer, asking questions continuously will help in terms of solving the problem. This is because there are many disciplines in such an organization and each has its own inputs. Therefore, most of the time it's like a puzzle. All you have to do is to collect the pieces you need by asking questions and compile them up.
Therefore, when it comes to working as an engineer, I have learned that without asking questions, the problem could take time to solve. Also, as mentioned above, communication is important and you will need communication skills to ask questions effectively to really succeed. While studying, I didn’t think that asking questions would be important because I have never been told about that. Engineers should be able to answer the questions that are asked, so it is important in both ways, to ask, and to answer.
3- Learning never stops
When the day of graduation comes, most of the people are happy because they have finished school and maybe they think that is no more learning; however, that is not the case for an engineer. I am sure many or most majors are still learning in their workplaces because there are a lot of things to learn there. As an engineer, I have learned that you get to learn literally everything from zero. Yes, you are not learning math or the subject itself, but you are learning the practical methods. You are learning how things are working and why are they working in that way.
When you have to solve problems, you will learn everything about that specific problem by doing your own research, asking questions, and more. Therefore, LEARNING NEVER STOPS. There are a lot who hate learning because it exhausts them, but I personally think that whenever you fall into a job that will expand your knowledge, you have to be happy because it is a good opportunity.
Therefore, I have after working for more than a year, I have learned while working that learning never stops and I am going to learn way more than what I currently know. Personally, I love learning, so I am grateful for this, yet I didn’t expect that, but I am loving it.
Working as an engineer is not like studying as an engineer. Some people might find studying is more difficult than working and some might find it the opposite. However, they at the workplace and school both require critical thinking to do well. Yet, it is important to remember that earning an engineering major degree doesn’t mean you know everything unless you start doing them practically. Also, learning never stops even if you are working for more than 30 years, you will still learn new things.
I am grateful for my job and hoping that I will expand my mind by continuously learning new things.