Turn Our Hindsight into Your Foresight


In CEP's May YPOV column ("A Recent Graduate's Lessons Learned"), Samantha Schmidt reflects on the first year of her chemical engineering career. Among those lessons: technical knowledge isn't everything; network, network, network; be smart with your money; and take time for yourself. In that issue's editorial, a few of AIChE's young professionals offered some advice to the Class of 2014. If you haven't seen the article yet, check it out. Space limitations in the print issue kept me from including all of their remarks. Here's some more of what they said.

Actively seek jobs. After graduating, it feels like you have finally reached the goal you had been working toward, but this is only the beginning. The real effort needs to be put into actively searching for a job. Do not be complacent. Put equivalent or greater effort into seeking a job as you put into earning your degree. (Liz Pavone)

Do not use graduate school as a last resort. Finding a job post-graduation is not easy, but seeking further education to compensate for a difficult job market should not be the answer. (Liz Pavone) Take advantage of any professional development available to you -- for example, project management and other skills you don't learn in engineering school. (Lauren Deitch)

Learn how to communicate. You don't learn this is school, and you need to be good at this to communicate your ideas. Practice, take classes, videotape yourself. (Kristine Chin)

Be humble. You can learn a lot from your peers, your boss, plant personnel, coworkers in other areas of your organization. Ask questions. Don't expect to learn everything in the first few months -- it takes a year and a half to two years to fully grasp your job. (Michelle Marsnick)

Stay hungry for knowledge, development, and opportunities. Do what you can to keep yourself motivated to always go that extra step. Abandon your fear of hard work or new frontiers. To paraphrase a line from the movie Waking Life, "What are the barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be found in another question and that's this: Which is the most universal human characteristic: fear, or laziness?" (Jason Lewis)

Speak up for yourself. Be your own biggest champion. Talk about your accomplishments and aspirations. You can't expect others to read your mind or know what you've done if you don't tell them. Humility is important, but so is getting recognition when you deserve it. (Lauren Deitch)

Networking isn't a euphemism for schmoozing. Make a real and meaningful connection with the people you network with, and realize it works best when it's a two-way street. Try to connect on things that matter, and if you are looking for a job, don't let that dominate the tone of your conversations. Realize that most people you talk to can offer you something more and equally as meaningful. (Jason Lewis)

You can also check out an earlier, related editorial from CEP.

If you have advice for new grads, please add it in the comment section below.

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