By Thien Van Tran

Where the grub at?

The college life of an engineer is very similar to that of a caterpillar. We enjoy a relatively stress-free life consisting of stuffing our faces exclusively with whatever we want and unadulterated amounts of doing absolutely nothing, prior to college. Upon entering college, we are content with temporarily giving up all that previous nonsensical frolicking in order to focus on becoming engineers. However, while a caterpillar spends approximately two weeks inside the cocoon, we spend four years.

Nowhere is it written that you can only have a single passion in life. Now unless you’re Squidward, there’s a good chance that you don’t completely hate having fun. So why don’t we actually devote some time to these things that make us happy? I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, “But I am involved!” Well the only thing I have to say to that is, Cool story bro “Keep up the good work!” Anyway, here are the top three reasons.
3. “My Major is Too Difficult”

We’ve all heard this one before. Engineers seem to think their major is the toughest, and that they can’t be as active as everyone else since they need to devote more time to studying. For the most part this is, without a doubt, absolutely false. Difficulty is relative, and something that one individual may find difficult may in fact seem very simple to another individual. Sure some of our classes may require a bit more work, but it is definitely possible to make time for activities outside of school. You just need to manage your time wisely. Some helpful tips regarding time management can be found in a previous Toppel blog post, imaginatively titled, Time Management by Oleg Ignatenko.
2. “I’m an Engineer, so People Expect Me to be Anti-Social”

Engineers are known to be weird, quirky, photogenic, awkward, and often difficult to connect with on any sort of level. Trying to talk to an engineer can be a socially unpleasant experience, like walking over hot coals or any type of butt surgery. Listening to someone use big and possibly made-up words like “derivative” and “zirconium” is like trying to understand someone with a thick southern accent layer of peanut butter stuck to the roof of his/her mouth. It’s an entirely different language. I’M TALKIN’ STRAIGHT UP JAPANESE HERE FOLKS. But it’s okay, since all engineers are expected to act this way, right? Well first of all, it’s okay to be peculiar, but one should still be able to communicate effectively. Second of all, no.

Networking is the best way to land a job. There is a statistic somewhere from a highly trusted source (read: the internet) that says most candidates are hired through networking rather than online job postings. And in order to network, you need to have the soft skills that are not taught in the classrooms. Recently, companies are moving towards more behavioral-based interviews. These operate on the premise that an individual’s past performance indicates future performance. Therefore, having good social and interpersonal skills are necessary to communicate your experiences to your interviewer, or potential employers.
1. “I Should Focus All My Attention on Academics, Since That’s All Employers Care About”

Yes academics and grades are important, but so are the things you are passionate about. Employers will consider your academic performance, but what really sets you apart from the pack is your involvement. It doesn’t matter if the clubs or sports you participate in are unrelated to your desired career field. There are specific qualities that are transferable to almost any situation, like teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.

So if you’ve read this and decided to make an effort to becoming more involved, what’s next? Well, if you happen to be an engineer, then I would suggest you start with the multitude of engineering organizations on campus, such as Society of Women Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, etc. These organizations attend annual conferences where you can meet and network with professional engineers and companies, as well as fellow students across the country. In addition to these professional groups, make an effort to try a new club or sport, like wakeboarding, beach volleyball, or fencing. You never know where it may take you.