Career Advice from an Engineering Student
and Part-Time Employee
Silas McClure, NC State Engineering Student, Gives Insight into Professional Work
How has the transition been from college classes to part-time work at a professional firm?
The transition has been good because I structured my schedule in a way that allows me to devote a lot of time to both school and work. Having certain days dedicated to classes and others dedicated to work allows me to easily switch my thinking to focus on one topic at a time. Since I don’t have to go from class to work back to class and can simply be in class all day or work all day, it works out nicely. McGill has also made the transition easy, being flexible with my schedule.
What advice would you give to students who will be graduating and beginning work?
I would encourage students to be present in school so that you can enter the workplace with confidence and a focused mind. It has been a good experience for me to work at a professional firm, while in college, because it has made me more aware of the business world. In college, you learn perseverance and skills for the workplace, and then in the workplace, you put those skills into action.
How have McGill employees helped you through that adjustment period?
The people I’ve worked with at McGill have been very receptive to me, especially with knowing that I don’t know everything about engineering. It’s reassuring to know that you don’t have to figure everything out on your own and that you can go to people with questions and to talk through things that might be minute to them but are new ideas to me. Employees have been willing to help teach me the ins and outs, which I’ve appreciated.
What has been your experience with mentorship at McGill?
I’m thankful that there are multiple people in the office who have allowed me the opportunity to learn and to teach me the business side of things. I’ve specifically enjoyed learning about how a task I’m completing plays into the larger picture. It is nice to know that I’m making a difference for the greater good through even a small role in a project. Everyone has been patient, and it seems like they’ve enjoyed teaching me.
How do you compare learning in the classroom verses learning in the workplace?
College is the ultimate test of adaptability. There is a clear distinction between learning in the classroom and learning in the workplace. At college, you have homework, tests, and deadlines in each of your classes, which can result in a high-strung environment. In the workplace, there is more engagement with people and a more of a laid-back atmosphere. In school, you are working independently a lot of the time, but at work, there is a lot of collaboration on projects.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy working with people the most. With engineering, there’s a misconception that you’ll be working alone on a computer each day. Though that is sometimes the case, there’s a lot more to the people side of it than people may think. I really enjoy working with my team at McGill.