Every year I try to write a blog post or a Facebook publication that is destined essentially for new Esprit students. And even though my experience is mainly from within Esprit itself, engineering students from all over might use these tips as well.
These pieces of advice are mainly for new students, but they are also very relevant for the others.
This year is quite different for me, as I’m leaving Esprit to continue my education elsewhere, and this gives a lot of perspective. So what I will try to do this time is to recap the posts from the other years, update them and add the few things I’ve learned.
I will also be rehashing a number of things pointed out in Matt Might’s blog. His articles have been a great inspiration, you really should read some of them.
This post is the result of a small experience of 4 years in engineering school, and everything written in here is subjective at best.
With my recently acquired interest in research, this post will be different from the previous ones as I will be juggling back and forth from engineering to academia.
So, here are what I think the top 11 tips to start a great year at Esprit (or any other engineering school):
1- You’re In A New School, Act Like It!
You should get comfortable with this fact. If you’re enrolling in Esprit after having three years of studies elsewhere you might tend to find people that came from that same environment and you start making little clans, isolating yourself from the full experience and contacts the school can offer you.
Open-up, make new friends, and fill your contact list. The students of today are the great minds of tomorrow. It does not hurt to have a big address-book when you graduate.
You’ll recall this advice when you’re looking for an internship.
2- Learning Is Hard Work
The material you learn in class matters, but you should consider it as the bare minimum. You have access to an unbelievable amount of online resources, make a good use of them.
Learn on your own and don’t expect to be pushed to.
Activities and clubs might seem time consuming, but if you’re in your first years at the school you should consider joining a community.
Working within a community to solve a problem is a great learning experience that would unlock for you a unique skillset a class won’t be able to offer you, this is why you learning experience shouldn’t be limited to the curriculum.
Joining a community is usually intimidating if uninvited. But you just need to knock on the door and say something like “Hi, I wanted to know more about what you do!”, it is that simple.
3- Attend A Talk, Volunteer For A Talk
Esprit and almost every other school in the area will be holding a number of extra-curricular training sessions along the year. Attend a session about a technology you know nothing about, it might inspire you. Or attend one about a technology you master, and volunteer for a talk there. This will dramatically enhance your public communication skills.
A talk could be about a subject you’re working on, a technology you’re reading about or even an inspirational one. You just need to get in front of crowd.
4- Write As Much As You Can
As an engineer you must be able to put clearly on a piece of paper any idea that you need to pass through, and it should be clear, coherent and with no room for interpretations. Writing is a critical task that you should try to master.
Start a blog and try to post once a month. Post about technical challenges you faced, or a technology that inspires you. Post about your research in a certain area of a project you’re working on.
You don’t always need to publish, sometimes you write for yourself, because it betters you as an academic.
5- Learn LaTeX
This has been on my TODO-list for the past 3 years. Finally I did it, and it is truly game changing.
This will allow you to write better papers and reports. With just a few weeks experience you can start to see how fast and consistent your writing has become. This takes care of almost all your layout, your references and your tables of content. You don’t need to worry about the looks of your papers anymore.
You should also know that experienced professors and researches all use LaTeX and know a LaTeX document when they see one. This is a major advantage your paper can have over the others when it comes to first impressions.
6- Update Your CV And Website As Much As You Can
If I Google your name and the first result I get is your Facebook profile with a picture of you on the beach, you’re probably doing it wrong.
At least once a year update your CV and upload it.
If you don’t have your own personal domain, go buy one now.
7- Map Out The Upcoming Year
I wish I learned this sooner. Every now and then, you should have a moment to map out what the next few months will look like. Have a calendar with major deadlines to guide you. If you find an interesting technology, or subject you want to know more about, put it on the calendar. Map out the conferences you want to attend and internships you want to apply for. This will give you a much needed perspective.
8- Network As Much As You Can
Sooner or later you will need people to write recommendation letters.
Don’t hesitate to maintain your network by emailing people with technical questions, collaboration proposals or events invitations.
9- Automate Your Backups
Nobody wants backup, everybody wants restore. To restore, you need a backup. I learned this the hard way.
In order to recover you data you’ll need to make frequent backups to all your important files and projects. In this case the Cloud is your friend, pick a service that fits best your needs and platform.
Try to automate the backups because you will not remember to do it yourself.
10- Continuously Adapt
What worked for you before might not work for you in the future.
No one gets it right the first time, and that’s ok.
Your work-life balance should be dynamic, so keep people around that would give you honest feedback and don’t hesitate to make changes in routine.
11- Ditch the TV
TV is one of the greatest distraction you want gone from your daily routine. Whether you have a favourite show or you just turn it on for background noise, TV will undoubtedly take your productivity down. Remove TV from your routine for a semester, and you’ll instinctively realise that you don’t need it any-more.
These were some pieces of advice for your upcoming year. Just remember that on the grand scheme of things three or five years is not that long of a period, so make good use of this time.
Again if you’re a new comer to Esprit, heads-up, it will not be perfect. It is up to you alone to step-up your game.
Are you a new student at Esprit? Tell us why you have chosen Esprit? And how you feel about your first year here?
Are you an old student? Do you have more pieces of advice to share with new students? How would you describe your experience so far?
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