Today’s early career engineer has to not only be technically sound, he/she has to adapt to a business engineering environment while navigating the fast pace of changing technologies and advancements.

Blog: Being a Young Professional - Time Management

Apr 23, 2020

by Maria Allen

This blog entry was derived from the FutureME Mini-Talks program held at the 2019 ASME E-Fest North which covered different perspectives and best practices on transitioning from school to work.

What after work? Advice on time management and finding your passion

Maria Allen
College is a busy time for many people. There is a lot of studying, making friends or even joining an organization to become part of the executive board. Students may be working at the cafe or partying in their last semester of college. But what happens after college? When the studying is done, friends are going separate ways, the organization and the on-campus job is finished, and the party is over. What does one do as a college graduate? Many graduates go into corporate America, and in corporate America, they get a job, maybe in a chemical processing plant or a manufacturing facility. They no longer have homework or other obligations, and it is time to lead the life they want. What does one do with all the time? Maria Allen, a Production Engineer at Dow Chemical, asked herself the same question, a lot of times and on many days.

Maria decided that she could use that extra time for something good. She says “It is easy to spend 40, 50, an excessive amount of hours at work, if not careful.” As a young hire, it is time to tap into those hobbies, not pursued during college and try something new. For Maria, she joined a community volleyball team. As Maria was trying out new things, she used a calendar and set goals to manage everything. Being very visual, she shops for things like a frame where she can put things to do all over her house. She also has a Monday through Friday board for her short-term goals. And it really helps her understand what she has planned for that week and how to tackle those things, day by day.

The widespread use and popularity of social media have made it easy to lose track of time. When Maria gets home after work, it is easy for her to spend time browsing through videos on Instagram. Maria urges her audience to limit themselves on social media and see the things around them. It is time to set the phone down, interact with those in the community and try something new in the community.

Maria Allen also enjoys giving back to the community. She has been volunteering in Midland, Michigan at various STEM programs, and finds it rewarding. While she is there, she picks up a book to challenge her way of thinking. This encourages her to be open to activities that she usually shies away from. Maria says, “Find that passion. If it’s volunteering or blogging, to maybe being an entrepreneur on the side, really try to tap into those things that you enjoy.” Filling up your time with valuable moments from vacations to interacting with those in your new home, can really make the time go by in the best way possible. Maria reminds her audience that adjusting to full time takes time. One must continue to work at it and find what works best for them. She gives an example of Michelle Obama, who didn’t even know at times. Michelle Obama became a lawyer and had a high corporate paying job. And then Michelle Obama decided that she wanted to start working in the government where the pay may not be as glamorous, but she wanted to make that difference.

While everyone may not be able to leave their engineering jobs due to the financial freedom aspect, one can still find that passion outside of work. Maria’s nine months as a new hire have been very eventful. She volunteered at a handful of events in Midland and Michigan State, came up to Michigan to recruit for MSU for the engineering convention and also did the NSBE National Convention as a recruiter for Dow. Travel to a different state at least once a month with a little bit more money from that new job. Maria also started a beer Instagram page, which is one of her fun passions and hobbies. She has a beer kit now, and she is going to begin brewing at home. Join those new hire groups to make dozens of friends in a new town. Everyone can be a little bit introverted at times, so don’t worry. These are really great techniques to find people with similar interests and learn about them. Maria closes her Mini-talks with, “Don’t forget you got this. And as a graduate, you’re ready to take on the world one step at a time.”


Maria Allen is a Production Engineer at Dow Chemical. She graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in May of 2018. During her undergraduate years, she was a career peer at the Center for Support in Engineering for three years, where she was able to interact with students from all backgrounds to help them secure jobs from internships all the way to full-time positions. Joining on-campus organizations such as NSBE and SWE, Maria served as the president of NSBE in her senior year. She loves to travel and watch LeBron James basketball, play basketball and volunteer in the community inspiring amongst students to explore the STEM field.

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