10 essential tips for first-year engineering students

Engineering is one of the most prestigious and sought after degrees in the world today. Almost all of the jobs are getting automated rapidly and competition has only made things worse. We all know that but how many of you know the small tricks of the trade that we must put into practice so that our journey is a lot more different, challenging and worthwhile?

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Well, before we begin, these are coming from an engineer herself. A year back, I was at the same place, starting the first year of Engineering, and I can vouch for the fact that trying these will greatly impact your outlook towards this innovative field. So let us begin from our common entry point that is what to do right after your entrance exam is over.

  1. Selecting your branch: People around you would have advised you to pick up fields like Computer Science and Information Technology due to a lot of options in jobs and huge money. While they are not wrong, you must have a fair amount of idea of various branches and how the knowledge is applied in your day to day life. Start researching as quickly as you can and jotting down points while also taking care of your passion. 
  1. Selecting colleges rationally: The toughest part, but elimination comes handy here. Imagine you getting Metallurgical or Mining in an IIT and Computer Science or your favourite branch in an NIT. What would you choose? Tag or branch relevance. While pursuing Metallurgy in an IIT is fine if your vision is clear, many people tend to get depressed at junctures like these. This hurdle has to be handled very smartly as these people did. 
  1. Focusing on your academics: I have experienced how draining JEE preparation can be. Most students in their first year tend to divert their attention from studies and focus on all the extras. Still, you can’t deny the fact that the first year is the best for all of you to score excellent grades and propel your CGPA. Like in school your priority should be academics and if you are diligent enough, this will take you to good jobs, internships and scholarships. NEVER NEGLECT YOUR GRADES! 
  1. Skills: Gone are the days when the toppers got all the attention and prizes. Your prize after four years is a good job or higher education. So start focusing on these skills which matter instead of reading textbooks cover to cover. Go and explore the world and test your textbook concepts in internships. Have decent marks and a powerful skill set.
  1. Exploring your areas of interest: I was shocked by the sheer number of clubs and activities in colleges. The better the college, the greater the number of events taking place on your campus. If you do not step out of your comfort zone, you will never get a better chance to post your B.Tech. Get into dance clubs, acting groups, hit the gym to get into a cricket team and more. Following this point was my best achievement in my first year. Which gets me to the next important point.
  1. Friendships: You will forget your score in a paper, but you will never forget how your roommate helped you understand an important concept at midnight. The diversity in colleges is marvellous. Forget the days of JEE competition and embrace the world of help and care. Make good friends for at the end of four years, they will become a family! Choose wisely, to make you or break you. Night outs, movies, finding life partners, skipping lectures; late-night munching there is so much a good friend will help you do. 
  1. Networking: A continuation of the last point. Connect, meet and talk to as many people as possible. You may not realize it now, but in today’s date, the greater the network, the brighter your opportunities. Learn how to use LinkedIn and start reading resumes of great achievers. At the end of the day, Networking is the King! Foreign internships, company HR’s and everyone else are always on a look for talented people. Do not miss out.
  1. Coding: CODE, CODE AND CODE. Irrespective of your branch you must know basic coding. Today, it has become a basic skill. Many non-CS branches have started to rely on software for their work.
  1. Professors: They are the underrated gems. Some may not be great teachers but they are the best mentors you will meet. My advice: Do not expect your professor to teach you like a kid. They will not. Rather, accept them as your guides. They are much better at that. Respect them, speak to them. From recommendations to internships and even your grades, there is a lot that rests on your behaviour towards him/her.
  1. Health and family: Go out and stay fit. You will gain absolutely nothing by staring at a screen or reading huge fat books all day. Your mental and physical health in these four years is as important as your degree. If you are a hosteller, you have stepped out of your comfortable shell. I have many friends who have gone hundreds of kilometres far from their homes. Initially homesick, but later they often put their family behind. In that case, make a serious attempt to stay in touch with your family. 
  1. Future course of action: By the middle of your second year you must be clear of your future activities and prepare a blueprint for the same. I know it is tough to accept that, but it is a grim reality. Want a job? Need to pursue Masters? Government sector? Academia? Need to make a switch into a different career? You must have answers ready to questions like these

For better opportunities, knowledge and to be a better version of yourself. If you stop working on yourself just because you have graduated, then a disaster is waiting to happen.

Well, for those who are yet to start with engineering or already graduated, these points are worth reading for everyone.

10 essential tips for first-year engineering students
Skyfi Labs Last Updated: 2022-04-12

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