Hi everyone! It's Tuesday! The last day of February. Where has the time gone? Today I'm sharing my exciting news that I've been holding onto for several weeks. You might make it to the end of this post and be like, no big deal, Alyssa? But so much has happened in the last two weeks, and in the last two months (really in the last four years in general), and everything I'm about to talk about was/is a huge deal to me.
First I'll provide a little bit of context...
Most of you know that I'm currently a senior undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University. Senior year in college is especially tough, because midway through the year, applications for grad school, med school, law school, teaching/mentoring positions, internships, or jobs are due. It's one of the most pivotal points of a person's life (for those choosing to pursue higher education).
I personally knew I wouldn't be applying to grad school, either at Johns Hopkins (the 5th-year Master's program), or elsewhere. I'll be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a minor in Earth & Planetary Science. These last 3.5 years (4 years, in May) have been such a trial, and I'm burned out. I love learning, and I'm going to miss the classroom type of learning. But I knew I didn't want to pursue a Master's degree immediately after my undergraduate studies concluded. There is a good chance I'll do a part-time graduate program starting in Fall 2018, but nothing for now.
My plan was to apply for jobs in the fall/winter of senior year. I also planned to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, to become an Engineer-In-Training (EIT). Side-note: if there are any engineering students reading this post who want to know more about this licensing/certification exam, you can email me or check out NCEES's website. Email me about anything engineering-related, really. Anyway, becoming an EIT would be the next step in becoming a Professional Engineer (PE), which is where I'm heading.
Fall semester ended in December, and I spent the holidays with my family. Just after New Year's Day, I came back to the university and immediately began studying for the FE exam. I scheduled the exam for Feb. 8th, which only gave me about five weeks to study. Logically, five weeks isn't a ton of time. The FE exam is extremely difficult, especially the environmental discipline. But I really didn't want to take it in May, because I wanted to apply for jobs and have that EIT certification on my resume. I'd be a more marketable candidate, you know?
Meanwhile, I'd been applying for full-time entry-level engineer positions since November. I applied to so many firms and agencies, public and private. I knew the job application process would be difficult, but it was honestly so discouraging to be completing so many applications and not hearing back from any of the companies. Especially with so much backing me - the university name (JHU), my degree, my GPA, my coursework, my activities, my internship experience, my research, my work experience. People say that you need connections to get a job, and it's mostly true, in the engineering world. Simply applying for a position most likely won't get you a call, let alone an interview.
So, I applied to companies, and in January, started studying for the FE exam. I applied for more jobs in January, moped, kept studying, kept applying, kept working (I work part-time in a department at the university).
Turning point - towards the middle of January, I heard back from a few firms and agencies. I scheduled and went on interviews, sent emails, kept up correspondence... received offers. I almost cried in January, when I received my first offer. The firms are so competitive with their salaries and benefits, and that was awesome (and intimidating) to experience. The interviews weren't as grueling as I expected. Luckily, I was granted some time to contemplate, and go on more interviews.
Then Spring classes started on January 30th, and I was still studying for the FE exam. Can you imagine - juggling interviews, studying for a $225 exam, working, and then attending classes? I lost my mind a little, in the first two weeks of the semester. Taking the FE exam on Feb. 8th was a huge relief... even if it was so difficult I wanted to cry as I left the testing center.
I'd like to think I'm a fairly smart student, and I studied well for the FE exam, but finishing the exam made me feel like a failure, because it was such a difficult exam. It's pass/fail (no score given unless you fail), but I legitimately worried that I failed. I had to guess for the last 15 questions or so, which made me feel awful. I didn't even have time to solve them! Waiting for my result was torture. Did I mention that the exam costs $225 (not paid by the university)? It's like the MCAT, but for engineers (kind of). Did I mention that John Hopkins has a 100% pass rate, for environmental engineering students? Talk about pressure... I didn't want to be the first to fail.
To make this long story slightly shorter, my good news:
I passed the FE exam! I'm officially an EIT!
I have a job after graduation! I accepted an offer that was pretty perfect and entirely amazing, and I'm excited.
Why I waited so long to share this - I found out my result from the FE exam on Feb. 15th. And then the job hunt - I accepted this offer on Friday (Feb. 24th). I was still deciding certain things up until Friday. Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by sharing this so soon (in terms of accepting that job offer). January and February were such stressful and wonderful months, filled with both extremes of the spectrum.
I'm truly grateful for having offers and accepting the one that I did - many fellow seniors and even 5th-year Master's students are still looking for jobs (the ones that aren't doing grad school). You might think, it's so early to have things finalized! But the hiring process is cyclical. Companies might stop hiring in March, or April, and then you're too late and might have to wait months for positions to open up again. I did my best with the hiring process, and I'm so happy where I landed.
I'm also over the moon with joy, about passing the FE exam. It was so hard! I don't even think studying more would have helped! I churned out hundreds (possibly thousands?) of practice problems to study for the exam (because it's 110 computational engineering problems), so I honestly didn't expect to feel so clueless. After taking the exam, I figured I knew at least 50% of the questions - but the cutoff to pass is around 65%, for the environmental discipline of the FE exam. But clearly I knew more than I thought, because I passed! YAY!
So, now you know! I'm so excited to share this news. I've blogged since midway through my senior year of high school, and here I am, four years later, blogging midway through my senior year of university. Some of you have been here since I started my journey at Hopkins. I know things are going to change around here in June, when I start working.
On another note - I am ashamed to say that I am well over a month behind on replying to comments on my blog. I've done a good job of commenting on other blogs, but leaving comment replies on my blog has really suffered since the beginning of January. Now you know why. February 2017 has been my "worst" month in posts - only 31 posts for the month, which is an all-time low, in my 4+ years of blogging. You can kind of tell how the job hunt, interviews, the FE exam, and the start of the semester on top of all of that has affected my blog. So please forgive me as I work through so many comments! I am so grateful to all of you who stuck with me over the last two months, without even knowing why I wasn't as active on my blog and around other blogs. There are so many of you and I appreciate every single one of you!
I didn't want to get too emotional or deep, but this is a deeply personal post for me. I don't share a lot about my personal life, but with everything that I've gone through, and everything that has happened in the last two months, I feel comfortable sharing this. And if you've made it to the end of the post, I salute you and thank you. Thank you for letting me share this with you.
And finally - thank you to everyone who helped in bringing The Eater of Books! to ONE MILLION unique pageviews! I don't want to detract from this post but I will definitely be writing a separate post about that milestone. I am honored! Be on the lookout for that post.
Until then - have a lovely day, friends!