'I met so many people who only made me want to be better'

Experiences

'I met so many people who only made me want to be better'

Caitlyn Person

March 11, 2021

Adjusting to college life with Theta Tau

Caitlyn Person (end of left middle row) and her Theta Tau friends. 
Caitlyn Person (end of left middle row) and her Theta Tau friends. 

My most meaningful community within Grainger Engineering is Theta Tau Professional Engineering fraternity. This RSO is dedicated to developing each member professionally, academically, and socially. Without these people, learning how to maneuver the career fair and job interviews would have been a whole lot harder. ECS is a great resource for this type of stuff as well, but I found it very useful to be in an organization with upperclassmen that had their own take on things. Along with this, since we are all in engineering, Theta Tau made campus and classes feel so much more comfortable. There are also opportunities for development within the organization which I took advantage of by serving as VP during my junior year. This single RSO has provided me with a network of like minded individuals all willing to help each other and some of the best friends I could ever have. Knowing how other engineering RSOs can be from an outside perspective, I think most groups can provide similar experiences. Project based or professional based, each RSO has its own goals for it's members and at the end of the day, they are just a really great opportunity to meet people.

Before joining, I had a really hard time adjusting to college life. By putting myself out there and getting into Theta Tau, I met so many people who only made me want to be better. When you are surrounded by upperclassmen who've all had internships and are doing well in their classes, it only makes you want to be like them. As a senior now, I love helping the younger members as much as I can as well to pay it back. These people are all so incredible and genuine, they really made my experience with engineering what it was. My most meaningful memory with them was when I was elected Vice President. Knowing that my peers and friends saw me as a capable leader meant so much to me. It gave me a new found confidence to go for what I wanted whether that be in my career or on campus.

My main piece of advice that most people say is to put yourself out there. As someone who secluded themselves first semester freshman year, taking an active role in meeting new people is key. At first it may seem awkward and uncomfortable, but as time goes on, you will find your group and your place on campus. Academically, my advice would be to not get discouraged. Engineering is really hard and you will not be the only one who thinks that. A huge part of college is learning how to learn. You will find what works for you in time.

Finding your professional niche

I've had two summer internships during college. Both roles were amazing and taught me so much about the workforce and how I will fit into it. My first internship was in a small town in IL and didn't pay as much as some of my other engineering pals. I say this because despite that, I really enjoyed my time with that company. The people were so great and I learned so much about the field I was curious about. It was also my first real job, so it showed me what a real workplace looks like. My second internship was virtual and with a company that I was super excited to work with. Throughout the summer, as I learned more about the company, I realized it was a place I could definitely see myself at after college. I found, however, that I wasn't too fond of the role. As a result, I took it upon myself to see what other positions were available and how I could potentially end up there after college. After doing my research and taking necessary steps, I now have a full-time job with them in the role I wanted. Both of these stories serve to show that any job you get, regardless of what you do, will be the ultimate learning experience. My first internship made everything about engineering seem way less scary which only motivated me more to keep doing well in school. I used skills and confidence gained during my first job to go for what I really wanted in my second. Everything is a stepping stone. You may not love what you're doing right now but it may be that last step you need to help you finally get where you want.