I started off my career working at one of the best mechanical engineering companies out there.
Now, and for the last decade plus, I have been working alongside some of the most talented individuals working at these same mechanical engineering companies.
Individuals who every day are pushing the limits of innovation.
But I bet you’d be surprised about one thing.
Whether it has been in the field or off, I continue to be nothing short of blown away when I see that:
The struggles of preparing for the FE Exam are universal across the board.
While on paper, these individuals would seem to be at the top of their game, they…
Many battle a strong fear of failure.
While most (as we all do) are battling the need for anything that resembles *free time*.
Everyone who comes in to our program at Prepineer comes with some form of baggage…
And I was no different when I started my journey.
Despite the mental garbage, those who find success on the FE Exam (and beyond) share one important trait:
They know how to *show up* every day despite how they are feeling.
Successful engineers know that through action they will eventually figure it out.
These are the engineers that jump out of bed every morning, looking forward to getting to work…whether that’s on themselves or in the work place.
Some would say that these people just got lucky (and you will see why below).
That is far from reality.
Over the years I have observed some nuances that successful engineers dodge, lean in to, or operate around…lets expand.
1) Working At One of the Best Mechanical Engineering Companies...Doesn't Matter
When we graduate from the university, many of us start blasting our resumes anywhere and everywhere in hopes that something will land.
Some of us will land a job at one of the mechanical engineering companies we dream of working at, while most of us will…
Land something the is less than ideal.
This is damaging to many students psyche…but it shouldn’t be.
I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t matter if you work at Tesla or Bob’s Mechanical…at the end of the day, you are just as capable of an engineer as the next.
I work with many students who come in scarred from an experience like this and they allow it to continue to pummel them deeper and deeper in to the depths of despair.
It doesn’t matter where you work.
If you have an engineering degree (and even if you don’t), you are more than capable of passing the FE Exam right now.
With the right approach, you can shortcut your way to becoming an Engineering Intern.
From there you can get back to blasting that resume to those mechanical engineering companies (or electrical, or civil, or whatever) around because…
They need you.
2) Being Realistic Isn't Being Realistic At All
Is reality even reality?
I know, a little deep, but really, think about it.
We are all raised in a certain environment with certain influences and we end up being a certain way because of that.
Why is it that one student raised in an urban setting can be completely different from one raised in a rural setting, yet only be miles apart?
Our reality is based on our perceptions.
And our perceptions are a function of what we’ve been exposed to over the years.
So if our perceptions are a function of what we are exposed to, I would like to suggest then that:
You can alter your reality by exposing yourself to different experiences.
Many students coming in to Prepineer think it’s unrealistic to pass the FE Exam because they haven’t seen anyone do it.
But that is just their perception…because they aren’t seeing anyone do it.
It’s human nature to fear what is unknown.
It’s human nature to shy away from activities that we don’t see anyone else doing.
And if you don’t know any successful Professional Engineers, succeeding in becoming registered is completely uncharted territory.
If you don’t really believe it’s ever going to happen, then why would you get going in the first place?
The dream is just unrealistic for you.
It can’t be reality.
But I am telling you, your reality can be flipped and it’ll take you places that you couldn’t even imagine.
So start to dream bigger.
Lose yourself in books.
Lose yourself in podcasts.
Consume as much information as you can from the people you admire.
The David Goggins and Jacko Willinks of the world.
Surround yourself with the people, and stories, you want to be like.
You’ll eventually start to think like them.
And eventually, their reality will be your reality.
Which brings me back to how I opened this section…
Reality really isn’t reality until you accept that it is reality.
That’s a lot of reality.
3) Being Unsexy is Sexy
If you are fresh out of the university, chances are, you are competing to see if you can impress other people faster than your peers.
Maybe that’s by driving the baddest rig.
Or working at one of the best mechanical engineering companies that everyone has heard of…making good money.
We all do it, or did it, at one point in time.
The *slow game* isn’t as sexy as posturing that you got it all figured out right now.
I get it, that’s just real talk.
It’s tougher to get people to respect you based on the trajectory that you’re on.
It’s even tougher to accept that focusing on trajectory over instant gratification will in fact get you further ahead in all areas of life.
And it will bring you more contentment.
Life is long.
Punting 3-4 months to prepare for the FE Exam and become an engineering intern isn’t going to matter much in ten years.
So establish perspective and focus on the long game.
Your future self will thank you.
4) Inspiration Rots
We all have aspirations.
They are immortal.
Since we can remember, we all had something inside that drove us towards obtaining that which we wanted.
I wanted to be a top college football recruit.
I wanted to work at one of the top mechanical engineering companies.
Whether it be sports or education, we grew up inspired and acted on it.
We wouldn’t be where we are if we hadn’t.
But inspiration perishes.
Like the gallon of milk for my baby girl in the fridge right now, it has an expiration date…and it will get tossed.
If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now.
You want to move to another state for an opportunity?
Act on it.
You want to travel to Europe before you start a new position?
Act on it.
You want to become a Professional Engineer?
Act on it.
You can’t shelf these inspirational moments when they are firing in your heart, otherwise, you will never get back to them.
You know this.
I know this.
Saying you will *do this later* just ends up with whatever it is rotting on the shelf.
I know you have many examples of when *later* became something that you weren’t too pumped on when *later* arrived.
For the FE Exam, *later* becomes more years away from the books.
*Later* becomes less confidence in your fundamental engineering abilities.
*Later* becomes more stress.
It becomes more responsibilities and less time.
That’s just how it is.
If you are inspired in the moment, act on it.
When you are high on inspiration, you can get done in a few weeks what it would have taken you months to do before.
Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity drug…a motivator.
But it doesn’t wait for you to act on it *later*.
It’s a now thing.
When it peaks it’s head…jump on and let it ride.
5) Clean Up That Thought: Those Four Letter Words
It kills me to hear the four letter words that come out unfiltered from the mouths of students entering Prepineer.
This language does nothing but tarnish and hurt the individual.
But for so many, it’s just accepted lingo used to justify where they are currently in their lives both personally and professionally.
I am not talking about F@!K and S#!T…though I don’t personally use that language.
What I am talking about are the words need, must, can’t, easy, if just only and fast.
These words point us back to our section on reality, and more so…being caught up in a *reality* we don’t like.
These words keep us stuck.
They are just flat out unhealthy.
Using such words riddle the mind with doubt, red flags and destroys any hope for inspiration to manifest itself.
The truth is, when you use these words, you create a binary situation…but life is rarely so binary to a *this or that*.
So you get upset with yourself.
Maybe not outwardly, but you know what’s brewing deep down inside.
A personal and professional stalemate.
You are frustrated.
Here’s what I’ve got to say about these words:
Very few things *need* to be in place before you commit to pursuing the FE Exam.
Do you want to be the best engineer you can be?
Great, you’ve got what you *need*…move.
One of my favorite quotes that I’ve shared with my daughters since they were born is this:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right” – Henry Ford
Can’t is such a subjective word, yet we adopt it as objective.
Ya, you weren’t able to climb a tree the first day you tried…but you eventually did, right?
Rather than telling yourself you *can’t*…add a little *yet* to the mix…you *can’t yet*.
Now you can keep moving.
IF JUST ONLY:
Alright, so this isn’t a four letter word, but you get the point.
If just only you had more time.
If just only you were smarter.
I could riddle off a page of *if just only*isms.
How about this…
If just only you would get started on something you would eventually make it happen.
I hear new students often say that other people made passing the FE Exam look easy.
They want to know how I can make the path more easy for them.
Truth is, we as individuals are so quick to tag other people’s journey as *easy*.
That whatever they *have* we don’t, and that benefits them.
We don’t ever pin our pursuits as easy, because that’s so dramatic.
We like drama.
With all the *highlight reels* being displayed on the social interwebs today, it’s very easy to fall in to the false belief that progress towards a certain goal is linear.
That’s just what we see, an event (FE Exam success, a rad business, etc) but not the process (the struggles and effort it took to get there).
We’ve got to stop pulling back against anything that looks difficult, because reality is, nothing worth having comes easy.
It’s about the grind.
It’s about the ups and downs.
About the failures.
It’s all about the process of getting to where you need to be.
That’s just the *easy* way…and it never looks easy.
These four letter words are constantly disguising themselves at legitimate.
Maybe we have the fortitude to push them off at first, but the fact is…
They are holding so many talented engineers back from making an impact both personally and professionally.
Think about it, if you wake up every day telling yourself you can’t, or you must, or you need, then I am telling you one thing…
You are finding more ways in mere minutes of waking to cut up and murder your fate.
That just needs to stop.
These thoughts pin you in a corner, in a cage, and subconsciously, you are throwing out the key.
You go seeking and searching, but you come up short.
Little did you know, the key was always there…flip the script on the self talk and the cage opens up.
So What's This All Mean?
Whether you are working at one of the top mechanical engineering companies or Joe Blow’s Mechanical…
It doesn’t matter.
When it comes to continuing your pursuit towards the best you, there are only a few things that really make a difference.
And it has nothing to do with where you work.
I see students from all walks of life finding success on the FE Exam, and you can do the same.
So stop doubting yourself.
Get real with what really is *real*…it’s all perspective.
Embrace your *unsexy* and act when the kitchen is hot.
Rid your mind of the worthless self talk and know that you got everything you need right now, in this moment.
And most importantly, lean in.
Find yourself some solid FE Exam resources and…