Being an engineer kicks ass.

Any company that hires engineers is developing something that does not exist yet. You will design or analyze or test something that will become a product that people use. If people do actually end up using your thing, then that’s because your thing is better than any other thing like it, whether it’s because your thing is cheaper, more reliable, more available, faster, stronger, more efficient, cooler-looking, or easier to use. Your thing will be the best in the world! (Otherwise you would not be paid to work on it).

You will be surrounded by people who have been immersed in your field for decades. They will have intuition about what works and what doesn’t work. At first that intuition will seem like magic, but as you work more products and hear more stories, you’ll find yourself being able to make these seemingly psychic predictions like your coworkers can: “Yeah, that’s not gonna work”. As soon as you start your new job, you’ll be faced with an absolutely real problem, and an experienced engineer will sit down next to you and show you how to deal with it. (Kinda like classes in college, but simpler and more immediately useful and probably not as mathematically rigorous). You will watch your skills grow and be increasingly proud of your work.

You may get to play with cool toys. You may have a lab where you push things to the brink of failure, and (if you’re lucky) then some. You will watch the predictions of your models come to life in the real world, you will see things use the amount of energy you said they would, deliver the force you said they would at the time when you said they would, and break at the point you said they would. All while surrounded by extremely expensive computers and sensors, powerful generators and actuators, screens full of numbers, maybe a high-speed camera.

You may go out into the field. An airplane, or a bridge, or a car, or a power station, may be doing something unexpected, and it might be because of your product. As soon as you see your product’s physical environment, the understanding will hit you like a bolt of lightning: My models never took into account the fact that my product is exposed to this material, loaded this way, heated and cooled so quickly, or slammed into by this other thing. Ok, NOW what do you do?

Most importantly: You will go out into the world, be it as part of your job or just as a normal person who travels and sees interesting sights, and appreciate so much more about everything. It’ll be like Neo seeing code in the Matrix. You will look up at the truss that supports the roof of your sports stadium, see the flaps deploy as your airplane comes in to land, watch a piece of software spit out an error, hear a funny noise in your car, take a ride in a boat or train, even just look at how your computer case is put together… and you’ll go: “Oh. That’s interesting. I can see what they were thinking”.

So hang in there. It’ll be worth it.

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