Navigating First Year Engineering For Aspiring Female Engineers

Tips to help you get through the toughest engineering workloads and schedules.

Posted by Michelle Lin on June 8th, 2020

Hey! Im Michelle and I’m currently studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. I wanted to talk about women in engineering because it’s traditionally been a very male-dominated field. However in recent years, there are more and more women studying in this field! When I was in high school, I was worried about a lot of things in engineering such as course loads, finding a community and stereotypes. I decided to write this article to help any young women interested in engineering who may have some of these concerns.

The first-year engineering course load is definitely daunting at first when you hear that you will be taking 5 to 7 courses a semester. I was super nervous because I didn't think that I could handle all the course work. However, after entering into first-year, I found that adjusting to the university work style wasn’t that hard at all. The days were long and lecturers felt time-consuming, but what helped me adjust was definitely using my agenda and buffer time for each course depending on the deadline. For example, if I had three assignments to work on, I would buffer 1 hour for the assignment that is due first and then I would allocate half an hour for the rest of the assignments. Afterwards, I would mark it down in my agenda as complete or not yet completed. If there were multiple assignments due on the same day, I would start with the one that I thought was going to be more time consuming. Days can feel long and what helped me push through was actually bringing healthy snacks to have on my breaks. Don’t forget to eat and take breaks frequently so you can keep your brain in peak performance!

Finding community (events, friends and daily routines) at the University of British Columbia was really difficult at first because there were so many clubs, design teams and councils to join! I felt really overwhelmed with everything. I decided to run for a council position in the Engineering Undergraduate Student Society and it was one of the best choices I’ve made in my first year because it taught me so much about teamwork and event organization. I also got to know so many people and was given the opportunity to work at the Dean's Office for Engineering. In this position, I would help plan and speak at events for prospective engineering students. I was also able to create online content to help ease high school students into university life. Below is a picture of the team I worked with in the First Year Council of the Engineering Undergraduate Student Society.

Lastly, before university I had many misconceptions about being a woman in engineering, such as being frowned upon because of my gender and having no social life. However after going through two years in engineering, I can confidently say that it was never a problem! It has always been super welcoming at my school and there are so many support groups for academics and for any barriers that may arise. The faulty of engineering even has academic events set up before each midterm which usually include practice exams and pizza! As long as you work hard in the courses and balance nights out with homework, it will not be hard to maintain a social life. I actually get to see my friends quite a bit for bubble tea every now and then, which is much needed after a long day of classes! Homework is inevitable in engineering, but my tips would be to start them early and ask for help as soon as possible!

My advice for those going into engineering in the future is to not be afraid to try new things. Join any clubs, design teams and councils that interest you! If you are a young woman who is still on the edge about pursuing engineering, I want to let you know that you are cared for and will excel in engineering if you put your mind to it! Balance the school work with extracurricular activities, but try to prioritize your school load first. Yes, engineering is “hard” but so is any other faculty, so don’t be discouraged if your first few midterms or assignments grades aren’t as high as you were expecting. Everyone is different when it comes to adjusting to university life. Take everything one day at a time! Nothing is easy in life but you should never let gender dominance in a field scare you off before you’ve even tried to tackle engineering. If you do end up choosing engineering know that you have many strong women figures in your university that will help you when things get tough. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

See Our Services

We empower students to become the best version of themselves


Let's do more together

Get In Touch!