If you’re not sure, ask!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Author: Zach Turek

When I started my internship with Olsson Associates, I wondered about many things. I wondered if I’d fit in, if I was ready, or had learned enough at school. I wondered if I’d paid enough attention in differential equations or fluid mechanics. I wondered if it would matter? And what did my supervisor expect from me? I also wondered if I would be embarrassed asking questions about these things I didn’t know.

Asking questions. It’s, so far, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned during my internship. I wanted to share that with anyone else who is in the same nervous position I was in just over a year ago.

I quickly realized that no one expects you to know everything. You can’t, and you never will. What you do need to know is how to research, network, and try your hardest to find the answers. If you can’t find the answer, swallow your pride and ask. I hear licensed professional engineers ask each other questions all the time. They were not born with their knowledge or license, they learned through experience. Engineers will tell you they learned the most after college by asking questions. Yet, it’s natural to feel embarrassed or nervous to ask.

College is incredibly important, and we should pay attention and learn as much as possible. However, what you’re learning there is how to learn – how to ask questions. It is an invaluable life skill that you will certainly need in any career, especially, in engineering.

To summarize, the people who you work with want to help you. It’s one of the fundamental canons of engineering to help those under you grow and learn, and for good reason. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification. Chances are, your supervisors will get worried if you don’t! So, get out there, ask questions, and learn!