Today, I had a meeting with my mentor. This happens once a month, as required by our employer, and the idea is that experienced engineers help make sure that newer engineers are being raised up right. We talk about what training I attended that month, what projects I have, how close I am to being ready to take the Professional Engineer’s exam, and also any concerns I may have in general.
My mentor is the most stereotypical no-bullshit engineer I have ever seen. I like that about him. He tells me exactly what he thinks, and isn’t afraid to correct me (or anybody else for that matter). Of course, this means our meetings are usually pretty perfunctory and quick. Today, though, just as I was leaving, he said, “This is something that we’re putting out in general throughout our organization, because we want our engineers to like working here. If you ever feel that you’re not getting challenging enough projects, or a good enough variety of projects, tell me or your team leader. We don’t want that to happen and we’ll try to fix it.”
I was surprised, and said that I assumed projects were assigned mostly on a luck of the draw basis, what comes through the door is what you get. He said that’s actually not the way it is at all, that there is a lot of thought that goes into matching engineers with projects, and that we have more to say about it than many of us probably think.
It was an interesting conversation. I have been happy with my selection of projects, and have actually remarked on how I have gotten a chance to design every kind of structure we do here. Until now, I thought it was a lucky coincidence.
The thing that stood out to me about this was that this is the first time in my life that my employer actually cared if I liked the work I was doing. This pretty much blew my mind. I realized that I never really stopped to think if I like the things I am doing day to day or not. I like the mission I am part of. Keeping up our infrastructure is awesome. I had never allowed myself to question whether I like my part of it, though. I just felt lucky to be here.
As it turns out, I do like the things I am doing. I like the faded old plan sets that make me act as half detective and half engineer. I like making old bridges new again. I like being part of history, and knowing that long after I’m gone from this life, my name will be on all these plan sets, and my structures will still stand. I like the things I can understand through analysis. I love paging through a finished plan set, and knowing that I made that.
I like what being here has entailed for me. Thank you for asking.