Over the past few months, my college friends and I have been meeting on weekends over Zoom to catch up on life during the pandemic. We talk about our careers, relationships, new recipes, etc. We share big and small moments, and I get insight into their lives as we all traverse through our first years as professional engineers.  

During a recent call, a friend expressed dissatisfaction with her career. Sharing her frustration, she explained that her job was to design and implement test fixtures for other coworkers’ creations. When she has downtime, she has been delegated to sort and organize various product components in a database. 

She feels like most of her work is merely peripheral to the company’s goals and main products. As a result, she’s finding very little meaning in the assigned tasks. As part of a large mechanical engineering team, she doesn’t feel like she’s getting to apply most of the skills she learned at school. And—most disappointingly—she doesn’t feel like she’s learning.

After the call, I reflected on my own experience at Pure Storage®. It quickly became clear to me that I’m in a relatively unique position among my peers. I get the chance to design and improve our product. My job is a new adventure every single day. 

Just last week, I worked on a Python script to improve my team’s productivity, took a system to a lab for electromagnetic compatibility testing, and helped a coworker design and release a new test board for manufacturing. 

In any given week, I get to apply my mechanical engineering training in many unexpected ways. I learned what seemed like an insurmountable amount of information today. And tomorrow I’ll learn even more.

How much of my friend’s discontent could be due to her career choice?

My friend and I are both design engineers. We both had the same education in materials, heat transfer, and dynamics. And we both decided to gravitate toward design. 

You can delve into many areas within mechanical engineering—biomedical, thermodynamics, manufacturing, and design to name a few. What’s most striking to me is how different our jobs are even though we both have mechanical engineering roles. We handle vastly different tasks and product types. She works on testing one aspect of a very large system while I help design, test, and sustain a handful of smaller, denser systems. At the end of the day, however, we’re both design engineers. Her designs are test fixtures while I work on designs for customers’ systems.

How much could be attributed to her company? Or perhaps the industry?

Part of the difference in our experiences in our first jobs out of school is due to team and company size. Pure is a very unique find for a mechanical engineer since it’s a mid-sized software and hardware company. As a result, Pure needs fewer—but cross-functional—mechanical engineers who can multitask and wear many hats. 

This is precisely why my job description changes daily and I’m constantly learning new things. In this unique role, I find a lot of freedom when learning and applying new skills. Every skill I develop will positively and immediately impact the team.

I’m one of four mechanical engineers in the company (and one of two on my team). Developing a system from scratch isn’t easy work (and it can be stressful at times), but I’m so glad I’m never bored. 

At Pure, I’ve never questioned whether I’m contributing to the team—or the company. My technical skills are valued and I’m encouraged to learn more. I wish I could share this experience with even more engineers.