My First Day as an Engineer

There are a lot of STEM-related topics that we can and will eventually discuss on this platform as it grows. Although I do find excitement in that, it never really occurred to me to share my personal experience as an engineer, specifically focusing on my first day on the job.

Many individuals who’ve embarked on a similar STEM journey may be wondering what it’s like when you finally achieve your desired goal, whether it’s short-term or long-term and/or what feelings may accompany it. For those of you on a STEM journey or just a journey of continued learning with clear goals set along your path, hopefully, my shared experience can resonate with you and potentially bring some comfort while clearing away possible anxiety.

A Rush of Emotions

Okay, you’re ready. You’re prepped for your first day at your new job. You’ve passed all the interview rounds, surprise test questions, and the sometimes ambiguous, ‘is this person a good fit?’ sniff test. You’ve dressed the part, researched the company again, looked at every YouTube video that talks about the company and all its products, and you’re now ready to walk through those doors, meet the team, and experience that surreal feeling of sitting at your own desk and/or workstation.

For me, all of that felt great. The feeling of accomplishing my goal felt more real in that moment than ever before. There were definitely feelings of optimism and awe, but I also felt intimidated and wondered if I truly belonged or if by some chance I just happened to finagle my way into getting the job. Impostor syndrome crept in a little bit. I do think it’s natural to feel that way when starting any new job. You don’t really know what to expect, but you do know that you will continue to learn on the job and further enhance your skills along the way. For anyone that enjoys lifelong learning, that is also an exciting feeling.

So, what really happened?

Well, for my first day, it was pretty uneventful. Sure, it was nice to meet new team members, get a tour of the facility, and see other departments in action, but new graduate employees are often eased into a professional work environment. This was my first engineering job but by no means my first job. The formula was basically the same as the other companies I had worked for previously. I was actually eased into the engineering role much slower than any other role I had worked before. I didn’t do any real engineering work until about a few weeks in. That was it. That’s the whole story. There were so many products to learn about; the first week was mainly spent watching training videos and filling out SOPs (standard operating procedures). I came in ready to tackle new projects and hit the road running, although it really didn’t pan out like that, and I do believe that was for the best in my particular scenario.

Pace is Important

The scenario that I walked into may be a familiar story to some or totally unrelated to others. It’s a big world out there with a lot of variables, and we all know one size does not usually fit all. Although I did prefer my situation, I do realize that it also may not be everyone’s preference. For an interesting read on the subject of onboarding, has an article titled “What Scientific Research Says About Employee Onboarding — 32 Statistics & Findings.

In Closing

I very much understand the feelings of being eager to get the ball rolling and hit the ground running. After putting in all the time and effort in your studies and preparing yourself for that special moment, only for it to seem a bit anticlimactic and underwhelming can be a bit scary and soul-crushing. In the end, the experience is what we make of it, and it’ll always present an opportunity to learn something new even if it turns out that the overall experience was an unpleasant one. We just continue to pace ourselves for the marathon and not the sprint when it comes to acquiring the knowledge needed to move forward onto the next goal. I’m always reminding myself that I’m growing into a new space, refining my skills, and discovering new goals. Everyone else is also doing the same thing, and it usually starts from our first day on the job.