There is no substitute for hard work

Imperial courses are extremely heavy on theory. In Mechanical Engineering, you have a tonne of material to cover and learn in depth – more than is possible to realistically cope with. It means you have to work incredibly hard just to keep your head above water or even remotely close to the surface. My peers often ask why the hell are we tortured into learning all these derivations and theories we won’t actually apply in engineering jobs in the future? But there is a method in the madness…

Engineers are problem solvers. An engineering degree develops the ability of the student to solve problems. Consequently, this is a skill expected of every engineer. The unique advantage of Imperial is that the excessively content-heavy approach develops you not only into a problem solver, but into an engineer that can solve problems BEFORE they even arise – an expert problem solver.

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours to achieve mastery in a field. A 4-year degree from Imperial gives you your first seven and a half thousand, taking you the vast majority of the way towards being a master in problem solving.

You can apply this example to any field. If there is a particular skill, experience or knowledge you wish to gain more of, dedicate time to it. But let’s make this practical. Don’t just make a mental note of needing to spend more time on your interest. Start it immediately, right now. Stop reading and put in your first 5 minutes. If that’s not possible, schedule it in. Put an hour block into your Outlook Calendar immediately where you will focus on development in this specific interest. You have to push to get started, because just 1 hour is an infinite percentage improvement on zero.

Note: This is not to say you shouldn’t be ‘working smart’ too. But remember, anyone who’s smart can find the right way to ‘work smart’. You can usually differentiate yourself by working both smart AND hard.

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