Sole Education Week 8: Expectations vs. Reality

In life, our expectations are often different than reality. This week, we asked Mikayla to talk about her educational expectations within her program, versus the reality she encountered.

My Experience

During my first internship at a plastic injection molding company, I expected to be given a series of busywork that wouldn’t be very beneficial to my engineering education. I also expected to be seen as a lesser person because I was both a female and an intern in a professional engineering setting.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that none of that would be the

This is a picture of me and my sisters after my older sister’s college graduation. She graduated with her bachelor’s in Illustration. She did amazing in school and is a fantastic artist however, she struggles with finding a job in her field because she did not apply for internships or make professional contacts while at school. I have learned that it is more about who you know rather than what you know.

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When I arrived on the first day of my plastics internship, I was told that I would be able to learn about engineering from the ground up by the end of the summer. They started me in the quality department in order to learn about the quality analysis process for new and old parts.

Next, they placed me in the tool room where I got to work with machinery, clean molds for the machines, and work closely with skilled machinists to accomplish important tasks.

Lastly, they placed me in engineering where I could use the information I learned from the past 2 departments in my design work.

The Expectation

An expectation that I had when first entering the engineering industry was that I would need to complete an engineering degree and be at the top of my class in order to be successful. While yes, that can be true, it is not necessary for any engineering job.

The Reality

Most of the engineers at Volvo Trucks only have bachelor’s degrees or associate’s degrees in applied science, and do very well for themselves. I realized that in order to get a quality engineering job, it is more about who you know, and the experience that you have.

If you were to graduate at the top of your class, but not have made any professional contacts or worked in any internships in your field, your degree will practically mean nothing. I realized that if I wanted to take a semester off from school to be a co-op at an engineering company, that would be more beneficial than going to school.

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