This is an installment in a series called “Industry Insights” where we hear from a current student who is working at an internship, co-op, or full-time job and learn about their experiences. Today’s writer is Rose Hall (Galley), former PSWE Blog Chair and Treasurer. She graduated from Purdue last year and currently works at Rolls-Royce.
“Hi PSWE! I’m Rose Hall and I work as a materials and failure analysis engineer at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis. I graduated from Purdue in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering. I was hired as an entry-level engineer in the materials department of Rolls-Royce with an opportunity to try different areas of the department over my first few years. My current daily job is split between working in the material laboratory running tests on development, manufacturing, or returned parts and writing reports about my findings. My projects range from running a test to make sure a certain material will survive the extreme temperatures found in a jet engine to investigating a part that broke in the field and determining how it failed. My day-to-day activities vary a lot as a result, which I really enjoy. This job has also given me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the many types of engines we manufacture in a hands-on environment.
When I’m not a work, I love going to Indiana Pacers basketball games with my husband, baking delicious goodies, and reading anything I can get my hands on. While getting up early in the morning for work isn’t fun, its nice having my evenings free for hobbies and activities without worrying about the homework and studying I’m putting off!
As I’ve only been working for about 7 months, I still feel like I’m learning a lot about being a professional engineer (and probably will be for a long, long time)! However, after some reflection, I drafted a quick list of 5 tips and tricks for success as a professional engineer (though a lot of these apply to college life as well).
1) Take every opportunity for training/learning within your job. As a new hire, you’ll spend quite a bit of time training. Don’t underestimate just how much this can help you get better at your job. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far was the opportunity to take a maintenance course on one of our helicopter engines. I spent an entire week learning how to completely disassemble and reassemble an engine. As someone with minimal experience with tools or engines, the class taught me so many new skills and really helped me understand one of our products in a whole new way. Keep an eye out for unique opportunities for training at your own company and discuss how you can develop in your job with your manager.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions (even if you ask a lot them). As a new hire, I had many, many questions about everything from how to use a certain piece of lab equipment to just what everything on my pay stub meant. This led me to worry that I was bothering people or that I was too inexperienced to contribute. Thankfully, I’ve found that my co-workers were always happy to help answer my questions. They understand that you’re still learning and growing as an engineer. Your manager is always a great resource, and sometimes they’ll even assign you a mentor or two to help you through your first few months.
3) Make the most of the knowledge of your more senior co-workers. In my department, there are several engineers who have been working as failure analysts for five years or more. Whenever I’m not quite sure where my investigation should go next, I know these co-workers will have some great insight to offer me. Use their knowledge to you advantage. And don’t forget to thank them for their help!
4) Stay organized. I’m often working on several experiments and investigations at the same time, so organization is key. Learn what works best for you to stay on top of your tasks for each work week. For me, I keep a list of daily tasks on my computer desktop and use a notebook to keep track of my laboratory notes. My Outlook calendar also keeps me on top of meetings and experiments.
5) Be curious about everything. Ask questions about the projects and goals for your position. When you get a new project, try to find out how it ties into the company or department goals. Find out what your customers are looking for, and how you can meet their needs. Try to talk to people other than your direct co-workers and learn more about what they do. See if tours of manufacturing facilities are available if you work in an office environment of a manufacturer. Attend forums, seminars, or other presentations. Check out your company’s intranet to keep up on internal news. As an engineer, staying curious not only helps you grow personally; it also helps you meet your customer’s needs and excel at your job.
I hope those few tips can help give you some confidence in your industry experiences as an intern, co-op, or full-time employee. As new engineers, we’re going to make mistakes, and there will be times when our confidence falters due to our perceived inexperience. Learn from those mistakes and keep building your knowledge as you go. Don’t give up…you’ve got this!
If you have any questions about my industry experiences, materials engineering, or anything else, feel free to contact me at rgalley27@gmail. I’d love to hear from you. Boiler up!!”