Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm Back!

Well, it's been a while.  Since the last time I posted I've turned in my thesis, finished my finals and projects, graduated, moved to a new state, signed a lease, and started a new job.  I still have a little bit of whiplash from all that, but I'm starting to get settled back into my new life.  I'm still working on getting my schedule finalized; I have longer hours during the week than I'm used to, but I have no studying, homework, research, or projects to do on the evenings and weekends, so I'm trying to figure out how to use my new found free time.  I've mostly been catching up on reading (I'm currently on my fourth book since graduating) and trying to get moving on the wedding planning.  I'm hoping to start posting regularly again now that things are settling down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Musings for the Future

I'm still buried in thesis edits, though I'm getting close to the end.  (For now anyway.)  I took a break one afternoon last week to go to a panel discussion for women in engineering about how to get ahead professionally.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I want to go with my career.  I have a variety of options.  I'll be working for a very large engineering firm when I gradate in May.  If I stay there for my whole career, it's likely that I will do engineering calculations 95% of the time for my whole career.  There's a chance of moving up higher in the company and doing something more general like project management or something more corporation oriented with a high level executive position, but I don't know how likely that would be.  I could stay there long enough to get a couple of licenses and switch over to a smaller firm where I could have a leadership role but still perform the engineering work that has gotten me into the field.  I could ultimately decide to start my own firm by myself or with a colleague or two.  If I decide I miss academia, I could go back and get a PhD so I can teach and/or do research.  At various times, all of these sound quite appealing.

There were two big ideas that I took away from the panel discussion today.  One was to keep all avenues open, because you never know which way you will decide to take your career later on.  If you pigeon-hole yourself too early you may find it very difficult to change course later.  The other idea was that your relationships matter.  I've known that for a while, but getting specific suggestions for how to get involved with the right professional organizations, how to build meaningful relationships, and how to find mentors was extremely helpful.  Since I'll be moving to a brand new area when I graduate, the professional and academic contacts I have here won't be as relevant and certainly won't be as accessible as I will want.  I need to start thinking now about how to go about making those contacts inside and outside of the company I'll be working for without the framework provided by my university.  I'm thinking I should start looking into those professional organizations now, and also finding members of my alumni association in my future home, so that I can be as prepared as possible for this transition.

There's something about hearing successful people talk and give advice that makes me feel like I can do anything if I just make the right choices along the way.  Right now I feel like the world is mine for the taking, if I can just get myself through graduation.  My posting is likely to remain sporadic until then.  I have priorities, and blogging comes after both school and career.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Drowning in a Sea of Thesis Edits

I apologize again for the lack of updates lately.  Trying to get edits done to my thesis, which is taking up all of my ability to form coherent sentences.  I'm hopeful that I'll be back to normal in a week or two.  In the meantime, check out the Yakezie blogs posted on my left side bar.  They're awesome. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Plusses and Minuses of Graduating

I've been in college for seven years.  That means, including kindergarten, I'll have had 20 consecutive years of school when I graduate this spring.  That's a long time.  Finally finishing up and moving out into the real world means a huge amount of change for me, and I've been thinking about that a lot lately.  For the most part, I'm incredibly excited and wish the semester would just hurry up and finish.  Here are my lists of my pros and cons of graduating:

Plusses of Graduating:
  • Having a real income.  I've had tastes of this on an off for years now, but I've always had to save the majority of what I made for the times when I was working at all or wasn't earning as much.  I had to make sure that tuition and living expenses were taken care of during those times.
  • No more homework.  I'll be honest.  I don't do much of my homework on evenings and weekends.  I'm generally so exhausted when I get home that I just cook some pasta for dinner and veg out.  On the weekends I'm busy with other things.  That doesn't change the fact that I'm supposed to be doing homework then.  Even if I know I have enough time to get it done any way, I feel guilty about not doing homework or studying because I really should be.  So not having homework doesn't necessarily free up a ton of time (though there are definitely weekends when I have to lock myself in the computer lab), but it will relieve a lot of stress and time pressure.
  • Paid vacations and sick time.  I never feel comfortable scheduling weekend trips or longer ones during the summer because I never know in advance what my schedule will be like.  Will I have a big test I need to be studying for?  Is that group project going to be do the following Monday?  Will I be interning somewhere and unable to get away?  Being able to take time off without that stress and guilt will be nice.
Minuses of Graduating:
  • No more reset buttons.  I love that I get a fresh start every four months with a new schedule, new classes, and new professors.  When things get frustrating I know that there's a limit to how long I'll have to deal with that particular issue.  I will definitely miss that.
  • Moving.  Since I already have a job lined up in another state, I know I'll be moving when I graduate.  It will be hard for me to leave all of my friends here.  I kind of hate meeting new people.  Knowing that I've already met most of my coworkers and get along with them helps some, but everything else will still be so new.