Learning To Run: Engineer’s First Job

It is fun to meet first time marathon runners, they all have a distinct perspective on the right way to finish the race.  My favorite first time personality is the person who knows the ins and outs of marathon training.  They have read the books, determined when they will fuel up during the race, what pace they will run at all times, and when they’re going to start their kick.  I remember talking to one of these eager beavers on his first trail race.  He had never run trails or high elevation, but he studied what he needed to do.  He was on my heels for the first few miles and I suggested that he slow down because we were about to ascend.  He stayed with me for as long as possible but had to stop running since he used all his energy.  I congratulated him on his success finishing the race when I saw make the finish line a few hours after me.  He gave the race his best effort but set his goals too high for a first race.

I have been the new employee several times in my career, trying to determine what path would be the correct one to take and have experienced that new employee feeling.  As a manager, I now get to observe the new engineer who was just hired coming through the door.  So what are you expecting in those first few days of your new career?

First thing I’d like to suggest to the new engineers, acclimate yourself to the work culture in the company.  Identify a person that may be a go to person or someone who can show you the ins and outs of the business.

When you receive your first assignment, do not expect it to be the most awesome project in the world.  Trust me, it will be the grunt work and most likely boring.  This does not matter though.  The most important thing is to absorb everything you can so you obtain the experiences you will need.  Ask people why processes are done certain ways, learn techniques and get all the training you can.  All of these things will help you in your engineering career.

The first project you receive may be a giant mess.  Do your best to resolve it.  In my department I assign new engineers a project that has not been resolved in 25 years.  I do not expect a straight out of college engineer to find the solution to the project.  I use the project to determine the new engineer’s work methods.  This project allows me to see if they are willing to communicate with others or try to find a solution on their own.  I can observe what method of problem solving they use, or see if they jump to conclusions.  This assists me with my evaluation of the new engineer and helps determine where I should focus their training.

Please remember your manners in the office environment.  Other members of your team have been with the company and have their work to perform.  When you interact with them be respectful of their time by using brief and clear communication and make accurate statements.  Your team members know you want to learn, but they do have deadlines to meet.

The articles image is from one of my favorite comic writers, The Oatmeal. Please visit his site to see the complete comic, The DOs and DO NOTs of Running your First Marathon.

Author: Natalie Grace Keyser

I am a dedicated Quality/Technology Manager, driven Metallurgical Engineer, Supporter of Future Professional. My professional personality shows in my running, where I will not back down from a challenge or slow down before the finish line is reached.

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