What is a Well-Rounded Engineering Student?

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Post #45 Why It Matters, What you Should Know

You have probably been told that employers like to hire well-rounded engineering students.  What does that even mean and how does it apply to you?  Read on so you can find out and decide how to get started.

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What It Means

A well-rounded engineering student has a whole lot more to offer than just their technical knowledge.  You hard core engineers may be wondering, “What else is there?”  For starters, any expert in a given field is useless without the means to communicate.  You may have the best technical skills and the most knowledge of anyone around you.  But how you convey this information to others will help determine your success.  Next, I wrote about soft skills in Post #26.  These are the skills all engineers need in order to accomplish their non-technical duties…such as living life!  Soft skills are necessary to work alongside a variety of people.  Also, let’s mention leadership skills.  Employers like candidates who display evidence of taking initiative as opposed to waiting for instructions (see Post #11).  Last, are you resilient?  Are you able to fail, pick yourself up, fail again and keep trying until you reach your goal?  In other words, employers like to see that you are able to learn from your mistakes.

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned a few ways that you can interpret what it means to be a well-rounded engineering student.  While the list is not all-inclusive, I hope you get the idea.  It is easy to focus on the technical skills as an engineering student.  However, that is only one piece of the whole puzzle.  A well-rounded candidate is always learning how to relate to people, how to accomplish tasks and understands that life is one giant learning process.

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What You Can Do

Firstly, do not hibernate in your room or in the library.  Put yourself in a position to purposely meet non-engineering students.  This could be in the form of extracurriculars or volunteering or taking lessons, etc.  Be sure to somehow expose yourself to the non-engineering world.  Secondly, do what you can to earn good grades.  Sooner or later, you will have to explain your transcripts.  Good grades are a springboard to mentioning other great attributes about yourself in an interview.  This kind of conversation can lead to focusing on your strengths.  You are skilled in other areas besides engineering.  How can you use those other skills (or hobbies) to transform either your own life or someone else’s life?  Employers will love to hear stories about transformation.  Next, do something to purposely get yourself out of your comfort zone.  Try something daring, something new or something that’s not you.  Being uncomfortable is an indication that you are growing and evolving as a person.  Trying a new endeavor despite your fears can be an excellent conversational topic during an interview.  And this is perfect evidence of the leader inside you!

In conclusion, a well-rounded engineering student can offer several skills and abilities other than technical knowledge.  You don’t have to be good at every little thing; rather, be great at the skills you recognize within.

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