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15 Things Only Engineers Would Understand

15 Things Only Engineers Would Understand

After years of crazy studying hours, insane exams, and wild expectations, you have made it! You’re an engineer! Whether mechanical, electrical, aeronautical, environmental, computer, civil, industrial (you get the idea…), you can proudly tell people that you are an engineer.

If only you could make them stop asking you to fix their fridge, or explain to them, in layman’s terms, what it is exactly that you do.

Here are 15 things that only an engineer would understand.

1. You were practically in a relationship with your caffeinated beverage of choice.  

The code doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. You need a week to understand the mathematical equations before you can even crack the engineering portion of it. The circuit board doesn’t work because of a burnt-out component. If there was something that could go wrong, it did. There weren’t enough hours in the day, but that’s OK. You don’t need sleep. You have Red Bull!

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    2. You took apart a radio or the back of the television just to see what was inside.

    Your mom was furious, but you’ve done it countless times again since then. I think you owe your mom a radio.

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      3. Your class size was always cut in half by the end of drop week.  

      You walk in on the first day of class. All the seats are taken. By the end of that drop week, half of those students are gone. And by the first assignment, you kind of wish you had left too.

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        4.  Everyone who knows you’re an engineer thinks you can fix their household appliances.

        OK, so maybe there are times you can fix it. But that’s not what you went to school for. You’ve worked on intricate projects. You’ve come up with revolutionary theories and technology. You’ve sat in one spot and coded for nights on end. You did not go to school to fix someone’s fridge or a Keurig machine that’s on the fritz!

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          5.  Contrary to #4, you have modified a household appliance that was working perfectly just to make it better.

          It’s not enough if something only works flawlessly.  It should work to your personally-desired needs.  Case in point: I know a NASA engineer who programmed his Keurig machine to his cell phone.  This way, he can turn it on from bed with no effort.  Ah, the user-friendly life of an engineer!

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            6.  Girls were practically mythical beings.  

            As a female engineer, I was a unicorn in the world for years. Sometimes, there would be one other girl in the class, which was twice as much as I was used to. Fortunately for all of us, there are more women coming into the engineering world. “Who runs the world? Girls!”

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              7.  When a child asks you a simple question, you explain the most elaborate answer possible.

              A little girl ask you, “Why is it raining?” You begin to explain the water cycle in detail, the transportation of water from the atmosphere to the surface of the earth, and of course, the different forms of precipitation. The little girl says “OK” with a blank stare and then walks away.

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                8. When you speak about your work, people think you’re nuts.

                Yes, it’s not just children, but adults as well who can’t understand the things you try to explain. Usually, someone will regret asking you about your work. But it’s not your fault. Sometimes, you can’t help sounding like a martian from the sixth dimension of the universe.

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                  9. You go above and beyond on projects….your kid’s science projects.

                  Chances are you designed this child’s project in AutoCAD or SolidWorks. You probably used PSpice if you threw in some electronics. Meanwhile, you son’s classmates have some baking soda and vinegar for their volcano, or a potato for their clock.

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                    10.  The people at Radio Shack can’t answer your questions. 

                    They’re always great at helping you locate what you need. But those intricate and convoluted questions are something you have to deal with on your own.

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                      11.  You were the president of the audio-visual, robotics, mathematics, and/or coding club at your school.

                      Your love of technology and the unknown is as real as your shopping addiction at Jameco Electronics.

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                        12. People think you know everything!  

                        The truth of the matter is that if you are an engineer, you realized a long time ago that you know nothing. And that’s great! It means your mind is open to everything.

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                          13.  The things you learned as an engineering student are not the things you do as an engineer in the real world.  

                          In college, those lectures, never-ending projects, technical reports, and mathematical lunacy were all just to help you lose yourself in the “reality distortion field.” It’s a place where nothing is what it seems. You have to lose your mind as an engineering student first in order to embrace the “anything is possible” mentality all engineers must embrace.

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                            14.  You envied those non-engineering majors.  

                            They had such balance in their life. They went to class, went to the library, and then, they actually had time to go out. Don’t even get me started on their study breaks! They could actually sit down to a meal without rushing or talking about the work. They didn’t even look at their study materials while eating. How luxurious!!!

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                              15.  You spend more time behind a computer screen than anywhere else.

                              And this was before the social media takeover! You were doing it before everyone else, and you probably still are. Since you’re usually looking at your screen, you might have more friends online than in person.

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                                As an engineer, you can understand the esoteric things. You love technical things, and there’s just something about it that calms your soul. After dealing with social pressure in school, demanding professors, and no sleep (ever!), you are an engineer. You can do anything. Congratulations! You’re damn near a superhero!

                                Featured photo credit: engineers via google.com.hk

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                                15 Things Only Engineers Would Understand

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                                Last Updated on July 18, 2019

                                How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

                                How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

                                Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

                                However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

                                Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

                                Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

                                There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

                                Better Job Offers

                                Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

                                People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

                                Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

                                You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

                                Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

                                A Shot at Entrepreneurship

                                Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

                                We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

                                13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

                                1. Update Your Resume

                                You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

                                Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

                                While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

                                There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

                                2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

                                Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

                                That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

                                To hone this skill:

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                                Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

                                Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

                                This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

                                How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

                                3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

                                Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

                                Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

                                To hone this skill:

                                Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

                                4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

                                No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

                                Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

                                To hone this skill:

                                Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

                                Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

                                These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

                                The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

                                5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

                                Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

                                How to hone this skill:

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                                Practice being resourceful.

                                Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

                                Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

                                No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

                                If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

                                6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

                                6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

                                Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

                                The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

                                Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

                                Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

                                17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

                                7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

                                Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

                                What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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                                Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

                                5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

                                8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

                                Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

                                Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

                                Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

                                What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

                                9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

                                How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

                                Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

                                Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

                                The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

                                10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

                                Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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                                Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

                                What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

                                11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

                                Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

                                You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

                                How to hone this skill:

                                All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

                                How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

                                12. Build Networks and Relationships

                                You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

                                Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

                                How to hone this skill:

                                Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

                                To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

                                How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

                                Final Thoughts

                                Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

                                You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

                                Happy career switching!

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                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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