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  • Laura Musgrave

How to Succeed in Your Electrical Engineering Career: Insights from a Final Year Student

I have to admit I’m slightly in denial about being in my fourth year at uni. It feels like only yesterday I arrived at the UQ Centre for my faculty orientation day where we had to perform the daunting task of building a bridge out of popsicle sticks with a group of strangers. That first year can be so daunting: navigating a new way of learning, trying to make lifelong friends, finding balance between working and studying. It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed. But never fear, I’ve collated a few tips that I wish I had known back then to make it all seem more manageable.  

  1. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed! There were times in my first semester where I really thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out to study engineering. I was finding some of my subjects really difficult. But I kept turning up to class, asking for help and doing my best and proved to myself that I could do it. If you’re feeling some self-doubt just know that you’re not alone and there’s probably heaps of other people who feel the same. You got this! 

  1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I know this one is much easier said than done, but I would encourage you to really step out of your comfort zone and take every opportunity to meet new people. Whether that’s going to an event where you don’t really know anyone, asking the person sitting next to you in your tutorial for help, or going up to that person you’ve seen around in the library and introducing yourself. It might sound unlikely, but I’ve made some of my closest uni friends by doing these things. 

  1. If you don’t know what specialisation you want to do, don’t stress. Most universities provide a “flexible first year” where you’re able to get a taste of each specialisation before you have to make a final decision. I’ve personally known people to change specialisations after the second or even third year of uni. It might add a bit of time to your degree, but it’s always better to be studying what you’re interested in. Adding on to this one, don’t stress about graduating from your degree in four years. A lot of people do dual degrees, or might choose to reduce their study load (like myself), so you won’t feel like the odd one out. 

  1. Look into the clubs and societies that your uni has to offer. I would recommend becoming a member of an engineering society where you’re likely to be attending events with the people you study with, it’s a great way to make friends! But you can also join clubs that are tailored to your interests. For example, Debating Society, Social Runners Club, Dance, Harry Potter Appreciation Society, you name it they probably have a club for it. If you like your experience as a member, you can apply for a role on the team around the end of the year. I’ve been an exec on the UQ Skirts in Engineering Society since my second year and it has been an incredible way to meet likeminded people, and gain skills working in a team and organising events. 

My main advice for those starting out in engineering is to take every opportunity that comes your way. Whether that’s an opportunity to make a connection, to work on a project, or apply for a scholarship, you never know what might come from taking that first step. Who knows, maybe you’ll be writing this blog post in three years’ time! 

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