Open Letter to the Engineering Class of 2014

Engineers of Tomorrow, Welcome to the rest of your life.  
As of this moment, you are no longer a student at an institute of higher education, but a co-creator of this world.  You may have noticed: it’s full of problems, full of breakdowns, full of inconsistencies and contradictions – systems that do not work the way they were supposed to, people who have been let down, things that need to be better than they are. 

That iron ring you’re placing on your finger could be many things; a symbol of your victory over academic onslaught, an entrance into an exclusive club of engineering professionals, but we believe it’s also a call to action. You are being called on to build bridges, but not the type that you can build out of concrete and steel.  
You are being called upon to bridge the gap
between the disappointments of the past and the everpresent hope for the future.  

You are being called upon to imagine the world that your heart wants to live in, that your sense of right and wrong says there should be, and then to find yourself a way to help change that idea into a reality.  You are being called upon to use your skills for good; not just for your own enjoyment or profit but also to benefit and take care of others.  
You are being called upon to contribute to something you believe in
– as a member of this professional community and as thinking, feeling citizen of the world.  

How will you choose?  However will you accomplish this lofty and vaguely-defined goal?  How will you know what to do with no one to tell you? Where will you start?  The same way you would walk a journey of 10,000 miles –
one step at a time.  
You’ll need your creativity and imagination every bit as much as your mad math skills.  You’ll need your intuition and empathy as much as your analytical prowess, and your heart as much as your head.  
Up until this moment you were a consumer of knowledge, a navigator of systems, a follower of orders, a passer of really tough examinations.  Your parents and professors seemed to knew more than you; always seemed to have the upper hand.  It may be a while before you assume positions of formal power and influence, but make no mistake:   
you are now one hundred percept in charge of you.  
You will never stop learning and growing but using your curiosity, you will keep creating your own education.  You may not have infinite job offers in your hand, but your inner wisdom will always bring you to the opportunities that are perfect for you.  You may have no idea where you fit in, but your courage to speak up and take action will guarantee you will never be alone.

Take that job you’re not quite sure you can handle.  It’s character-building to fail.  
Try that volunteer opportunity that has you work with people who think nothing like you do.  Learning to honour differences rather than hating them is one of the toughest and most useful skills you’ll ever learn.  
Making diversity into fuel for innovation and revelation is really the only alchemy you will ever need.  
It’s the perpetual motion machine of this world.  
Do that thing you’re scared to do that gives you goosebumps just thinking about.  Try.  Risk telling your truth.  Open your ears when others do the same.  
Dig deep to make a difference, however you can, whenever you can.  

What do you want to do?   The future, in so many ways, depends on you. 
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Welcome to Engineer Your Life

Hello newly graduated engineer!

I have been where you are.  I stood outside my convocation, degree in hand, heaviness in my heart.  I wasn’t 100% sure I had even made the right decision in choosing engineering to begin with.   I was even less sure I wanted to try to work as an engineer.   But today I have work I love in which fits my life like a glove, in which I can wholly be myself, that fully enables the life I want to lead.  And it didn’t involve ‘starting over’.  I am an engineer through and through and I use my skills everyday.

But back to that moment at the end of university…

Some were set to become big-shot consultants, some were going to travel around the world, some were going to grad school.  Many had 5-year plans.

I knew that I didn’t want to do any of that, but I didn’t know what I did want to do.  I wondered about going back to school to study something else, but couldn’t wait to get into the ‘real world’.  Also, it was time to start earning money!  So I found my first job and hoped for the best.

You might have heard that the best years of your life are behind you.  This is not my experience.  Life just keeps getting better.

So how did I do it?  I designed my life, much as I would any system.  I asked myself big, hard questions and made big, hard decisions to bring the answers to life.  It wasn’t easy.  There was nothing ready-made for me.  I had to find my own path.  But it has completely been worth it.  I believe you can do it too, with the right tools and the right information.  Life is too short not to love what you’re doing!

Coming out of university, I was utterly unprepared for the design challenge that lay ahead of me.   It took me 12 years to figure all this out by myself!  But that’s why I would like to help you.  I would like to share my stories, teach you some tools, give you ideas.  I would like to help you ask yourself those questions and guide you toward making your answers – and the life and career of your dreams – a reality.

I’d like to invite you to follow me on twitter at @engineeryrlife, visit the facebook page, throw me a like and join the conversation.  Or email me at erica@engineeryourlife.net and let me know what you’re thinking about.

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