Get Out There and Ask Your Dumb Questions

October 14, 2022
5 min read
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Switching it up a little bit this week by giving my view of growing pains in engineering as a whole, as well as some praise to our fellow coworkers. If that is not your thing, please enjoy this funny yet relatable photo:

If you made it this far, welcome. I can’t give you the two minutes of your life back after reading this, so proceed at your own accord. No matter where you’re at in your career, we’ve all had moments at one time or another where we think to ourselves, “Oh man, I really screwed this one up” (Not trying to tell you anything, Denny, just using the phrase for effect). To some, it may come easy because of years of experience or natural ability or just being really smart, I guess but make no mistake, the work we do is not for every joe shmoe out there. Whether it be different regulations based on which way you look down the road, more hassle than necessary to get approval on a project, the looming township meeting you just know is going to go swimmingly (pool permit humor because I’ve been doing those lately), or just something dumb like trying to decide which -text layer the notes you just put in on AutoCAD go on. Different things trip each of us up, sometimes in a way that makes you wonder if you did things correctly or how you can do things better and more efficiently next time. The one thing I’ve realized in my short stint in engineering is there is no rulebook (plenty of publications), but there is, at best, a loose guide and example projects for you to pull from to show you what you’re striving for. But if you simply copy and paste someone else’s work and change some numbers, how do you truly ever learn? Whether it’s a simple grading permit or a bigger land development project, rarely are things ever “easy,” every project has its own weird twist, but I guess that’s part of what makes this job fun.

The audience for all this rambling is mostly our younger group, I guess (which I am realizing I am sadly aging out of), but it could apply to anyone that could use a fire in their belly, just to say, hey, this job doesn’t just get easier, and you need to work at it to stay ahead. The one thing about Howell Engineering that I think is different from my past experiences is that the senior staff/older guys (and girls)/whatever you want to call them (and yes, Jared I am sorry, but I am including you in this) don’t just say they’re willing to help get you on board but actually take time out of their already busy schedules to answer “dumb” questions or point you in the right direction. While I believe you need to take your lumps like everybody else to ultimately figure out how to do something, having fellow staff willing to help you from spinning your wheels is a catalyst for growth. So take advantage of it while you have the opportunity. Be a sponge. If I see an influx of closed office doors around the building, I’ll know my message might not have been too well received. Outside of just being nice people that are willing to help and want to see you grow, there is a benefit to asking questions. The more you know and can handle, the better everyone is for it because you can be trusted to do more. I probably start half my conversations in the office by saying, “This might be a dumb question but...” and have never gotten kicked out of anyone’s office yet. Obviously, none of this is earth-shattering information, and no, I didn’t just take the definition of growth or what makes a good work environment from google, but sometimes the most obvious things are left unsaid. As someone that is still just getting into the game, I appreciate the quirky family vibe the company gives off that makes this a comfortable workplace. So maybe today or some other time, you’ll be more inclined to reach out and try to make yourself a better engineer, designer, surveyor, etc., with the people you spend half your life with... or not, whatever floats your boat. Whether a question seems dumb or not, and trust me, I’ve asked a lot of them, you’re not doing anyone a favor by just sitting at your desk on the third page of google trying to see how many of the same answers you can get.

If you have read down this far, wow, I appreciate it and would just like to give a shoutout to D-Ro for writing a novel about Chester County Futures last week, totally upstaging what would have been my go-to newsletter recapping our golf outing on Tuesday that they put on (an amazing event for a great cause). Please see the links below to donate or get involved with CCF. Also, shoutout to Dylan for taking home the long drive contest with an absolute missile.

Bringing it all to a close, feel free to swing by my desk whenever if you have a question I can actually answer, I am more than willing to help. I think my most frequented visitor is Roscoe (Tom's dog) and let me tell you, I am not complaining. Have a great weekend everyone. Go Phils. Go Birds.

As always, if you have any engineering or surveying needs give Howell Engineering, Howell Surveying, or Terrain Engineering a call!



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A Howell Company

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Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: 410-266-1160

A Howell Company

1250 Wrights Lane
West Chester, PA 19380

Phone: 610-692-7007

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