What is the best advice you would give a young engineering student?

By: Doug - Afton, Iowa (United States) on Wed Nov, 14 2012

I will be graduating soon and I want to make sure that I make all the right choices in life and especially in my career. I have heard the first few years after college are some of the most important in your engineering career. 
I would like to hear from those who have already passed through the road that I am now about to embark on.
Doug.

1.

Study hard and be the best of the best in your class. Do not waste time doing unproductive activities. You will regret the binge drinking and the spring breaks. One thing you will not regret was working on a worthwhile project while your friends were out drinking. In this day of the internet, there is a lot you can do. Start blogging about college life, create a website for people to buy products. Basically, never let a moment pass that you are not doing something productive and will benefit you in the future.

2.

I remember when I was graduating our professors organized a dinner party for all the departing seniors. The night was okay with the usual cliched speeches you would expect from college professors. However, there was another guest speaker who inspired us by providing a narrative of this early engineering career and the choices he has made early one. I do not remember most of what he spoke about but I do recall that the theme of his messages was to Follow Your Heart and Always do the Right Thing. This two guiding principles have always guiding me in not just my professional life but also my personal life. Another wonderful inspiring source for student is Steve Job's now-famous 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech.

3.

Your first job out of college is the key, because it will probably define your future career. With Engineering, it is important for you to develop a specialty. If you start with an internship, go for something that is niche oriented. Work hard at it, and maybe they will offer you a full time position when you graduate. That was the case for me. I was very fortunate because my first job out of school was at a company called GKN Technology, which at the time (late 70s) was at the forefront of developing modern Fatigue Theory. I worked for Dr. Peter Watson, who was very famous for his work in this field. I am now a world renowned expert in my field, and I have had my own consulting company for 23 years.

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Your first job out of college is the key, because it will probably define your future career. With Engineering, it is important for you to develop a specialty. If you…

Nigel LindenWhat is the best advice you would give a young engineering student?