What I’ve learned from being in ‘growth-gear’
Blog post by ELP Student Betty Wan (Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2020)
An ancient Chinese saying goes: “Study is like sailing against the current; either you keep forging ahead or you keep falling behind.”
This saying stresses the importance in ones will & action to constantly improve for people who wants to climb higher. Are you one of them?
Having the opportunity to intern at FlexDex, a medical device start-up company, makes me realize that start-up jobs better suit the ones in “growth-gear”. It provides awesome opportunities of growth for both intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills.
But before I go into detail about why start-up is all about offering you growth, I’d like to solve a misconception that many people hold about “start-ups”, that Start-up world is deep, that employee lives must be havoc since they have to try control so many different factors all by themselves, and the company must be pretty disorganized. Well, that may or may not be true, dependent on the company size, management style, and your role there.
My story may convince you why. A bit of self intro, I am a current R&D Intern in FlexDex, and a rising Junior in Mechanical Engineering. FlexDex is sized at ~25 employees, in which ~10 are R&D engineers. As an R&D intern, my daily life is packed with CAD (Computer Aided Design) work, manufacturing drawing creation, engineering analysis, and feasibility test.
- Start-up companies give you more exposure to different jobs types within the same discipline, as well as the chance to dig deep into one.
For example, I am all at once exposed to the responsibilities of so called “CAD Design Engineer”, “Quality Engineer”, “Manufacturing Engineer” as well as “Testing Engineer”. However, I wouldn’t have the chance to multitask this much if I were at a big company. My strength in drawing was also further developed and utilized to create study drawings for uncovering potential design flaws. With greater responsibility comes greater growth. Provided such a great variety of tasks, you are required to step out of your comfort zone more, as well as further understanding your own strengths &/ weaknesses.
- You are more likely to become a project lead, or no, actually three.
Why is that? In a small team that has many tasks per day, you are likely to be asked to lead one, given that you understand how to do it. For me, completing the consecutive processes of designing, prototyping and testing that are of my own initiative is purely satisfying. Moreover, the tasks are typically not plug and chug. Each design task feels like a school research problem, where understanding of the mechanism, critical thinking, and self-leadership are crucial. These further application of ME knowledge learned in class greatly strengthened my understanding & confidence as a future Mechanical engineer.
- You are likely surrounded by a family of “growth gear” & entrepreneurial minded coworkers
I am surrounded by a team of elite, hardworking & high-spirited engineers. Efficiency is so crucial that, time spent by everyone better not get wasted. Our active usage of time-management and task tracking tools really differentiate us from big companies, and this really clicks with the college kid me. From my colleagues I learn not only engineering, but also how to become more effective, as well as recent tech news…
- Less hierarchy, more transparency in communication and company values
Start-ups are generally the place to go to where your questions&/ concerns can be answered and addressed. I feel safe bring up my concerns, and others are as well transparent in how I can perform better (for example I talk too much). Transparency and shared values are what really bonds a team, and are what motivate hard work and personal growth.
While happily bring my growth from this internship back to school, I look forward to a new semester’s learning from school.
I hope this blog is helpful to future interns. Why not try interning at a start-up this upcoming summer?
Or have you ever worked at a start-up before? In what ways have you grown? Let me know your thoughts!