Think about it. In general, we are pretty idealistic as undergraduates. And indecisive. And perhaps even naïve and self-focused, feeling that our interests should become the top priority of everyone we know.
After all, shouldn’t an academic advisor simply hand us a four-year “recipe” for the exact courses we should take at the exact time in order to achieve the exact type of degree they feel we should earn? And then, once we graduate, of course there should be the perfect job and career path automatically awaiting us.
As though our education occurs in a vacuum. As though we merely play a part in everyone else’s melodrama.
Regardless of whether we went to college in the midst of recession, inflation or whatever else, how realistic is this “ultimate” pathway that we visualized? You know, the COMPLETE NO-BRAINER. Just plug yourself in and “go”?
And that’s the problem.
By our very collective natures, we are not “no-brainer” folks. We are thinkers and sometimes second-guessers, to a fault. And life certainly does continue to happen at the same time we pursue our undergraduate degrees, no matter how much tunnel vision is involved on our part.
Perhaps the most important lessons we learned as undergraduates didn’t have a course number associated with them. If we are truly life long learners, this habit of ours started when we were children. We carried our pursuit of learning into our college years and, hopefully, beyond.
What life lessons did you learn? What people were around throughout your life and, especially, during your undergraduate years? If you could assign course titles to these lessons and these folks, what would they be called? Eating 405, Concert Attendance 1201 (!), Fraternity 709, and so forth. Think about the net impact of the “people” factors in what you taught yourself in engineering school – or any other discipline for that matter.
And, depending on your generation, these people and your education were undertaken in the midst of history and social causes that impacted our perception of self and decision making.
Whatever the recipe is that we either followed or abandoned, how much of our personal and professional choices involve stewardship? Yes, stewardship.
What did you learn about stewardship in engineering school? In any undergraduate pursuit? What did you teach yourself – and learn from your friends and perhaps a little history – in engineering school? What an interesting factor to add to our personal equation….even if stewardship was partially or completely absent as an undergraduate.
The question remains: how can we currently use who we are and what we have learned in order to foster our own education in stewardship on behalf of others?
Believe it or not, a lot of what “they” didn’t teach you in engineering school amounts to everything you, yourself, taught yourself as an undergraduate – in any academic pursuit for that matter.
You know, we really gave ourselves a very good education. Our “life lessons” – and our professional pursuits – benefit from what we taught ourselves in school. Some of us put these lessons to use on behalf of others, as undergraduates. Some of us have discovered the value of stewardship later in our lives.
You may have been taught more than you realized in engineering school. Just not necessarily as part of your course curricula.
It may be time to put what you taught yourself into use on behalf of others.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.