Meet Katie, a 2015 graduate of Colorado School of Mines. She is in her second engineering rotation in our rotational program, and is currently working out of the Charlottesville, Va. office in Tactical Projects and Technical Services.
If you’re like me, you have a rough vision of yourself in the future. Not necessarily what job you will hold, but a sort of essence of the kind of employee, perhaps manager, and overall person that you’d like to be. While it’s always good to have a vision like this to aspire to, it can also be incredibly frustrating when we don’t measure up right this minute. I see “Me of the Future” (MotF) as someone with a lot of answers, experience, and knowledge; someone who is approachable yet firm, experienced without being inflexible, and who speaks up with confidence. I wouldn’t say this is a representation of who I am today, and I tend to look back at my days and weeks disappointed, feeling I’ve missed the mark.
But what I always have to remind myself is that MotF is in the future. No one expects an engineer with just over a year’s experience to have more answers than questions, so why do I? At least weekly, I have to do some sort of reality check with myself that all of the people that I aspire to emulate started from this same place of inexperience. We have to let ourselves off the hook for not being able to act like we have 15-20 years of experience when we’ve got less than five!
The key, I’ve found, to manifesting MotF and someday making that vision a reality is to allow yourself to be where you are and set small, reasonable goals. For instance, one of my small goals is to learn everything I can about air systems at compressor stations. I want to be the one-stop knowledge base for all things air. I’ve given myself about six months to accomplish this, and have set out milestones for each month that will help me get there. I also try to do one thing a week that scares me. It could be speaking up in a meeting, or submitting work that I fear might not be perfect. I’m embracing my place of inexperience and seeing it as an opportunity to shape the future in any way that I want.
All of these very manageable steps are laying the groundwork for me to look back and wonder why I was ever worried in the first place.