From Skule to the Workplace: Lessons from Alumni

In the summer, ILead’s FIELD summer students visited the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and heard from a panel of U of T Engineering Alumni.

The panelists discussed the importance of self-care and mental health in the context of both student life and in a professional setting. Martin Par, one of the panelists, put it most succinctly, “Recognize when you deserve a break.” Students were reminded that while making deadlines and putting in those few extra hours on a project may seem like the most important thing in the world, knowing your body and understanding when it needs to rest should always come first.

When asked if he had any advice for undergraduate students trying to figure out what they want to do after graduating, Jose Zariffa responded that students should try to get exposure to as many different things as possible. While entry level jobs are laborious, they shouldn’t discourage you from any field. “Don’t just look at what you’re doing, look at what people around you are doing” he says. Your decisions shouldn’t only be informed by your experiences, but also by those of others who have already progressed in it.

Part of Jessica Li’s professional duties include interviewing budding engineers. Along these lines she offered advice to recent and future grads entering the workplace for the first time. “Go in, be ready to learn, but don’t be intimidated.” Li explains that the professional world of engineering is vastly different to the academic environment and that nobody expects new engineers to know everything right off the bat. Simply be adaptable and ready to learn on the job.