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Advice for Engineering Freshman

September 10, 2014

 (Written by Benjamin Brady, author of "The Husky Life and Me")

About Me

My name is Benjamin P. Brady and I’m a second year Computer Engineering major/Animation minor at Northeastern University. I come from Hamburg, New York which makes me a Bills and Sabres fan, as well as a loyal Tim Horton’s customer. I loved my first year here at NEU. Aside from learning so many new things in classes, I become very involved in the Husky Ambassadors as well as the Resident Student Association. My dream is to work as a Walt Disney Imagineer and I can’t wait for co-op to help get me there.

Advice for Engineering Freshman

Meet with your advisor! They’re completely awesome people and are very willing to help you out with anything. My advisor was Rose Hill and I can say, without a moment of hesitation, that she is part of the reason my first year was such a success.

Meet with professors! For some reason, when a professor sees a student out of class, the professor treats him/her like a celebrity. Your teachers really want to feel engaged with the class and you’ll even feel more comfortable in a class once you’ve met with the professor.

Northeastern University was recently ranked #1 in career services. Good News: First years get to go to the career services offices! (It’s actually required for GE 1000.) I went there several times to refine my résumé and gain interview skills. Their assistance helped me to get an internship this summer as well as an RA position here at Northeastern.

Engineering students typically have a lighter class-load on Tuesdays and/or Fridays. Use that time to get ahead on your work for the week.

When Rebecca’s Café is getting full, you can always take your food over to the Curry Student Center to eat.

220 Snell. They aren’t kidding, it’s super important.

Never disrespect the female engineers. In my experience, they are the ones you want to be with for any group assignment.

Remember that when you’re working in a group the goal is NOT to determine whose idea is best, but which idea is best. Typically, the best idea comes from listening to everyone.

Join a club/group/organization or something because learning isn’t restricted to classrooms and friendship isn’t limited to Residence Halls.

Even the things you think are silly in class can be important one day. I thought watching a documentary on the Joint Strike Fighter program was a waste of time during GE 1110. That is, of course, until my summer internship was with a company that developed components for both the Boeing and Lockheed. I could not be more grateful for the small introduction I had to aviation during that video because it truly helped me engage at work.

The point of a group project isn’t to prove you have the knowledge. The point is to prove you can work as a team.

The best way to learn how to code is to just keep trying things out and stay as patient as possible. The exhilaration of a finally getting the code for a difficult problem is always worth the frustration.

My high school teacher always said, “If you have to ask, you just don’t get it.” Guess what, that’s okay! Not getting it isn’t just acceptable, it’s expected. Don’t make things worse for yourself by not asking questions.

If you wait to do your science homework until the night it’s due, you’re going to have a bad time. Instead, try it before your recitation/ILS and ask the TA for help. Not only will your work be done earlier, but you’ll be less tempted to just get the answer from Google or a friend. Those latter options may get you a good grade on the homework, but guarantee nothing come test day.

Yes, final exams are worth a major portion of your course grade, don’t forget to keep materials from the beginning of the semester to study later.

You live in Boston now, don’t waste your time here.

My final piece of advice:

As my mother always says, “Be Safe. Be Smart. Have Fun. And in the order.”

What to Expect as a First Year Engineering Student: Uncertainty.

Learn more about Benjamin through his blog "The Husky Life and Me"