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CivilTom (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
29 Nov 12 16:44
This question is geared more toward senior engineers or people within management in engineering departments. How does a new grad give off a great first impression during thier first day or week at work? What would make you think "wow this candidate was a great choice I'm very happy with him"
Helpful Member!(4)  KENAT (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 17:06
Only needing to tell them things once. (Hint, get a note pad and write everything remotely pertinent down).

Extrapolating what I tell them on one thing to apply another thing, and then checking with me if that makes sense if appropriate rather than just asking first off.

Rather than always asking questions instead proposing your idea and asking if that seems right.

Asking good questions when you do ask them.


Confidence without any hint of arrogance.

No sense of entitlement.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

Helpful Member!(2)  MadMango (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 17:07
1. When given a task, attack it thoroughly and pay attention to detail.

2. Don't be afraid to ask questions to get a better understanding of your task or reasons behind it.

3. Don't just sit at your desk waiting for work to come to you. Go to your supervisor and ask for work, if none can be found there, ask the person in the chair next to you. Repeat until you find work to do, and notify your supervisor that you found it on your own (ie I'm assisting Jim-Bob because I finished my last task).

4. Don't talk about your nightly conquests at the bar or party activities over the weekend. Chances are everyone is older than you, and has "been there, done that." Gentlemen never tell, and you might remind others of what they might be missing out on.

5. Pay attention to personal hygiene and wear conservative clothing.

You can adjust all the above behavior after you've been there for a few months and have figured out the company's culture.

"Art without engineering is dreaming; Engineering without art is calculating."

Have you read FAQ731-376: Forum Policies: Forum Policies to make the best use of these Forums?

TheTick (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 17:09
As the late, great Frank Zappa might say, "Shut up and play yer guitar." Mouth shut, eyes and ears open, hands set to the master's work.
CivilTom (Civil/Environmental) (OP)
29 Nov 12 17:41
As far as behavior and appearence, I am not worried. I am well groomed and show respect to others, especially to higher engineers/managers. The main concern I have is not catching on quickly or asking a dumb quesiton (YES there is such a thing as dumb questions).
Helpful Member!  GregLocock (Automotive)
29 Nov 12 17:53
"show respect to others, especially to higher engineers/managers." Mind you brown nosing will get you less far than you might think. I can see no reason why you should treat anyone at work with exceptional respect.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Forum Policies

KENAT (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 18:26
Just making sure you only ask each dumb question once is a step up from some folk!

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

Helpful Member!  djm883 (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 19:40
Try not to finish tasks as fast as you can to move on to your next task. Make sure all tasks given are done correctly before saying you are complete. I was told early on in my career that being correct is more important than being quick in completing tasks. Even if it is mundane work like data entry, check to make sure everything is correct. Now that I am beginning to supervise other engineers, I can't stand when simple tasks aren't being done correctly.

Kenat also mentioned in his first post to write down all pertinent things in a notebook when someone gives you a task. We had a junior engineer start and he wrote down each task in his notepad during our conversations to make sure he knew what was asked of him. This gave me a good impression of his organizational skills.
berkshire (Aeronautics)
29 Nov 12 22:39
Do not start coasting after you have been there a few weeks. This will be noticed, There is an old saying That " A new broom sweeps clean.", and senior staff are well aware of it.

The good engineer does not need to memorize every formula; he just needs to know where he can find them when he needs them. Old professor

SNORGY (Mechanical)
29 Nov 12 22:46
Remember the question, "What can I do to help?". If you ask that, and then do whatever it is that the person says will help, the rest falls into place.

But I have been spoiled rotten by the new people in my charge. My goodness, but they have been great young people.

Attitude is everything.
ctopher (Mechanical)
30 Nov 12 0:12
I will also creative.

SolidWorks 11
ctopher's home
SolidWorks Legion

IRstuff (Aerospace)
30 Nov 12 0:49
I wouldn't get too hung up about asking questions; better that they know where your knowledge holes are than to surprise them with a serious faux pas because you were afraid to ask the question that would have prevented the mishap.

No one can be expected to know everything; I've found that being honest with your customers, which includes your management, tends to engender more trust, because they know you'll give them the straight scoop, regardless.

FAQ731-376: Forum Policies

Helpful Member!(2)  SomptingGuy (Automotive)
30 Nov 12 5:46
Have the confidence to realise that you might just be right, regardless of experience.

- Steve

Helpful Member!(3)  Jboggs (Mechanical)
30 Nov 12 7:54
If you are working in an office that has a lot of old drawings around, take the time to study them in detail. Note the small things that make one drawing give a better first impression than another drawing. Things like proper lineweights, organization, clarity, neatness. None of that has anything to do with the content, but it gives the observer an immediate impression that the drawing's author knew what he was doing. Take the same care with anything else of a visual nature that your produce. Take that little extra time just to make it look nice. Make it pop. To be blunt, do something that frankly this new generation is not known for - take personal pride in your work.

While we're at it, you can also make sure you don't fall prey to another ALL TOO COMMON habit of the younger generation. They seem to think that all written communication is the same as texting. Many of them pay no attention at all to grammar, spelling, punctuation, paragraphs, syntax, etc. How did these folks ever get a degree? That tells me a lot about our schools.

I have numerous examples in my inbox. A graduate engineer recently sent me a request for information. His message was three sentences. It had one capitalized letter, five misspelled words, and one period. This young man is a competent engineer, but you would never know it by his communication. He is hobbling his own progress.

Oh, and one last thing - the fact that you are asking the question is very a good indication!
Maui (Materials)
30 Nov 12 11:10
Learn from the mistakes of others who have been working there a while. You won't live ling enough to make them all yourself.


Helpful Member!  MiketheEngineer (Structural)
30 Nov 12 11:55
Remember - dumb questions prevent dumb mistakes. I beat that into my new engineers all the time!!
MrHershey (Structural)
30 Nov 12 12:57
Be a sponge. Soak up anything and everything you can. While asking questions is good, be aware that other people have work to do too, so try and consolidate questions if you can. We have one guy who when he's doing something for me will ask questions a couple times an hour that last several minutes each. It's okay, but makes it difficult for me to get my work done. And some questions are better to do some research on your own first before answering. Example with this young engineer is usually on the order of 'how do I do this _________?' in whatever analysis package he's looking at. Play around, read the manuals, it's the best way to learn. Maybe you'll pick up some tricks that nobody else knows in the process.

And when you're slow ask people if they have anything for you to do. If the answer is no, then do something constructive. Don't just twiddle your thumbs or surf the Internet or leave early. Read journal articles or trade magazines. Find a textbook for something you're not good at or didn't cover in school and go through the basics and then some basic examples (for structural engineers, common examples of stuff we have to do ALL.THE.TIME that are not covered at all in school: slabs-on-grade under heavy loading, retaining walls, slender wall design, steel joists (specifying, detailing, reinforcing)). Go through tutorials for an analysis package you're not totally familiar with to make sure you know it when the time comes that you need it. There's tons all of us can learn and would love to learn, but just don't have the time. Take advantage of the down-time, you'll wish you had when you're swamped.
pittguy12 (Structural)
30 Nov 12 13:18
You are new so it's a given you will ask some "dumb" questions. Don't worry. We have all done it and anyone you are working for will expect you to do the same. Don't think of them as being 'dumb' are just green and it's OK to not know something. I would rather have 100 obvious questions asked to me than 1 that wasn't asked.

It's better to ask than to assume.

Great advice here already. Be a professional but don't be worried if you aren't 'catching on' right away. It's all about experience and, unfortunately, the only way to get experience is to put the time in. You will be overwhelmed but that's OK!

You will find it will take about 4-6 months before you are comfortable and probably 50 years beyond that to 'figure it all out'.

Good luck.
JRESE (Structural)
30 Nov 12 15:27
Find out which professional societies / organizations the senior people participate in. Ask about helping with committee work. Get involved in a committee that you care about. Support and advance your profession.
ScottyUK (Electrical)
30 Nov 12 15:33
Ask if you can spend some time with the shop floor workers, the front line guys actually doing the work. Choose your moment to ask questions - halfway through a complex task is rarely a good time to distract someone! Never be afraid to get involved and get your hands dirty, but always check it is safe for you to do so before diving in. There are a lot of hazards in an industrial environment which school doesn't teach you much about - some are obvious but many are more subtle and you should learn to recognise them when they are pointed out to you. Things like unions, for example... wink
ukengineer58 (Civil/Environmental)
30 Nov 12 16:15
Don't be afraid to ask the dumb question you talk About. Experience will teach you no matter how many years you have under your belt you'll still have loads of questions. I have ten years experience and I am forever researching problems asking others etc. a lot of the time questions I would probably have considered dumb when starting out. Only tip is if you have a problem to solve research how to go About it then ask if it is the appropriate way. Don't just ask how to do it without researching first
Helpful Member!  SnTMan (Mechanical)
30 Nov 12 17:38
Take the time to understand the wheel before re-inventing it.


IRstuff (Aerospace)
1 Dec 12 13:35
While steeped in ancient tradition and the barb of jokes, one's handshaking ability and quality is often CRUCIAL to a first impression. A soft, linp handshake can immediately create corresponding mental impressions of the shaker. Likewise, an overly strong handshake can impact feelings of attempted intimidation and lack of concern for others. A damp one is obviously bad.

Handshaking tends to be a bit of an art, and often requires instantaneous reaction of the appropriate kind. While the ideal approach for yourself is a firm, but not overly powerful one, if your greeter is attempting to intimdate you, you must instantly crank up the handshake strength to correspond. If your greeter submits a weak handshake, you must drive through and still present a standard handshake. Duration of the handshake is also important. You can often judge your greeter's intent by their body language and hand/arm movement toward you.

FAQ731-376: Forum Policies

arunmrao (Materials)
2 Dec 12 8:37
Good tips provide by all. This is applicable not only to newbies, but also the experienced ones. I recently, had to fire a newly joined experienced cement plant engineer. He never joined the main stream ,communicated with others and tried to cover his deficiencies by resorting to extreme religion .

"It's better to die standing than live your whole life on the knees" by Peter Mayle in his book A Good Year

fegenbush (Mechanical)
3 Dec 12 12:46
I always look to see if the person is wearing a watch. To me, a person who wears a watch understands and has an appreciation for time, which is important to me as an employer and coworker. Not wearing a watch does not imply otherwise, but is completely neutral on the subject.
IRstuff (Aerospace)
3 Dec 12 15:38
Or, he could be a stick in the mud; unwilling to look at alternatives.

Personally, I can't stand having something on my wrist. Moreover, I've got a perfectly good timepiece in the guise of a phone, so I don't need another.

FAQ731-376: Forum Policies

Helpful Member!  spongebob007 (Military)
3 Dec 12 16:02
I think what makes a good engineer is someone who enjoys learning. When I was a young engineer I would often bring textbooks home and review theory that was pertinent to my work. I was doing this on my own time. I taught myself Solidworks and Pro/Engineer. I also spent a lot of time going though tutorials for analysis software and reading the manuals. Even now as a senoir engieeer when I start a new job I want to learn as much as I can about what the company does as quickly as I can.

As far as stupid questions go, I have very little patience for basic, stupid questions. I assume people that ask basic, stupid questions are lazy and looking to have everything handed to them. I generally go out of my way not to help them much or i simply give them a short, stupid answer. I appreciate people who do their homework and ask intelligent questions. I have a job to do and I can't be bothered with a lot of inane questions. You need to balance your question asking so that you don't ask too many or don't give the impression that you want everything handed to you. Before asking someone as question, ask yourself: Should I already know the answer to this question? If so, give it some thought, go back through old textbooks or notes to see if you can refresh your memory. Is the answer to this question one I should be easily able to find. Engineers need to be able to build their resources. Might the answer to your question be found in a textbook? If it is an anginnering question of general nature, such as what does FPGA mean? can you find it on the internet? Are the other sources such as company manuals or best practices manuals that might contain the answer? If you can't easily answer the question yourself then ask a supervisor or coworker because it is better to ask than guess and be wrong.
KENAT (Mechanical)
6 Dec 12 14:15
If one of your new colleagues/supervisors is kind enough to prepare some kind of training/indoctrination or whatever you want to call it material to get you up to speed on your employers processes etc. then take advantage of it.

Imagine how annoying it is to that person if you come up asking them questions that's in that material, or if they discover you've done something wrong because you ignored that material.

My first day on my first job I spent a bunch of time going through the 'design room manual' and related procedures so I'd be vaguely aware of how things worked.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

77JQX (Civil/Environmental)
6 Dec 12 15:12
Show up in time to make the coffee.
SnTMan (Mechanical)
6 Dec 12 15:57
Moreover if you do drink coffee, make a pot now and then. If you got time to drink it, you got time to make it;)


Maui (Materials)
7 Dec 12 8:36
You will be dealing with people who work in very different areas and different capacities throughout your organization. And if they've been there for any length of time, they tend to form very strong opinions of each other, as well as opinions of the root causes of problems that have cropped up but were never resolved completely. Listen to what they have to say, but don't adopt their predjudices - remain objective. This can be more difficult than it sounds. The objective person can sort through the available data to arrive at a conclusion that can be backed up by the data. The biased person usually can't. And this difference often factors into why some problems never get resolved.


Helpful Member!  sibeen (Electrical)
8 Dec 12 4:04
Before asking a question...RTFM.
DRWeig (Electrical)
10 Dec 12 12:51
Make a list of all things you can think of that would create a bad impression. Then, don't do those.

Best to you,

Goober Dave

Haven't see the forum policies? Do so now: Forum Policies

Helpful Member!(2)  bk19702 (Mechanical)
20 Dec 12 14:58
I can't stress enough that portraying confidence without being cocky is golden in a young engineer as I see it. Most I have come across nowadays have an unbelieveable sense of entitlement and know-it-all attitude that I would never think of having when I finished school, and that was only 12 years ago.
MusicEngineer (Structural)
20 Dec 12 16:27
Show sincerity to your tasks and respect to your colleagues.
electricpete (Electrical)
23 Dec 12 23:13
In terms of whether to ask questions or portray confidence/independence instead, there certainly may be room for judgement based on the situation....

However, I would tend to err on the side of asking lots of questions, assuming I could learn something useful from everyone more senior (unless and until proven otherwise), and generally doing my best sponge impression.

I have seen a tendency among a very few brand new engineers to want to prove how much they know during conversations with the more senior engineers. That can be counterproductive, especially if engaging your mouth interferes with engaging your ears. Not only will you miss out on learning, but you won’t impress anyone.

(2B)+(2B)' ?

DubMac (Petroleum)
23 Dec 12 23:37
Remember that every one of those old farts has both good and bad qualities. Learn from their good qualities and ditch the bad ones.
brandonbw (Civil/Environmental)
27 Dec 12 20:28
A previous project manager said my favorite line, "Anyone who thinks they know everything, knows nothing". That seemed to be right on with others who came and went on that team. Hiring people who said they knew this or that, never asked questions, and then they were let go. So ask questions and don't think you know everything. When it comes time you want to make sure you did your work right in a timely manner. Not quick and wrong. I can't believe how many time I had seen people doing grading plans completely wrong and then had to be redone from scratch. It could lead to lost weeks or even a month of time.

Another thing is that everyone makes mistakes, just try to not big those big ones. I did that not looking at every sheet in detail before a huge rush, and ended up having to replot 50+ sets of 1 sheet at 36x60!!, and have our guys go down to the city, unstaple/unfold the sets and replace each set. That was an expensive mistake I made, which I never did get yelled at for making. Lesson learned. And that is part of being new to your field, in my case about 5 years in.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer | |

berkshire (Aeronautics)
27 Dec 12 21:02
brandonbw (Civil/Environmental)
At least you did not get to the stage where somebody was cutting steel or laying concrete.bigsmile

"A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government."
-George Washington, President of the United States----

geesamand (Mechanical)
28 Dec 12 5:39
Wow, this is a big topic. Not a single item above should be ignored.

For a brand new design engineer in my department, I would suggest:
- Ask questions. Ask anyone in the department, not just the manager. First make an attempt to answer the question and ask someone to confirm that the answer is correct.
- Take notes. Make a design notebook, put things into broad categories, and start stuffing it with good stuff. I started by simply photocopying my supervisor's design notebook. Keep them somewhat organized too.
- Communicate effectively. Listen, speak/write, and take the moment to observe whether your message was received as intended. Note that some semblance of grammar and spelling is required to hold the attention of certain audiences (particularly important ones). There are plenty of smart engineers who are idiots to the rest of the world due to poor communication.
- Learn from everyone. Each company has multiple roles and passionate people in those roles. Find those individuals and get to know things from their point of view. Shop floor, field service, marketing, sales, etc all have important ideas and perspectives. Also take note which individuals are great communicators, great reasoners, great analytical solvers, and when presented with those types of problems compare their method to yours and possibly review your work with them before committing it.
- Be creative with perspective. Try new ideas while continuing to execute your work the traditional way. So for example if everyone uses one system to perform a task and you see another way, try BOTH. The existing way has some advantages, and unless you can show the new way of doing things alongside of the current way, nobody will (nor should they) take your suggestion seriously. Not much good if one person is doing things vastly different than the rest for no particularly strong reason.
- No engineering school teaches you how to be an engineer. It teaches you a foundation, without walls, roof, or furnishings. You need the whole building to succeed. Identify what skills and general knowledge are required at your company and continue to learn. Once you've learned all of the tribal knowledge about a particular subject, look outside of the organization (textbooks, magazines, etc) to refresh and expand that knowledge.
- Accept that your tasks early on will be more repetitive. Interesting and more complicated work comes with time and efficiency.
- Value others' time. So you've worked for an hour and a half and developed a couple of questions. Assume that it will never be a yes/no answer (after all, we've established that the "why" is just as important as the choice) and don't ambush people as they're walking to a meeting or in the middle of something urgent. At the very least consider when you need your answer to keep on schedule, and have a couple of tasks going so that you can stay productive.

That's all for now. I need to get to work now and try to deliver on these things myself.

brandonbw (Civil/Environmental)
8 Jan 13 3:15
berkshire: Yeah that's the part that scares me. I have heard the horror stories. Parking lot done wrong because it's not ADA compliant and bam rip that sucker out and start over. But I have also seen the funny side of this where they etch the construction notes into the sidewalk or stairs. Such as a circle with a number.

One of my problems is that I have a deep soft voice which sometimes people can't hear. This was made clear to me when a Landscape Architect we will be working with on a few jobs kept saying what during a lunch they took us out for. It's not as important as I am the company owner talking to other owners and we are on the same team just talking. But you always have to be critical of yourself as you present yourself to others. Something I need to work on when getting new clients.

B+W Engineering and Design
Los Angeles Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer | |

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