On Two Years with Her Campus UFL as an Engineer

In August 2017, I got an email saying that I was accepted to be a writer for Her Campus UFL. I was ecstatic. I had applied after being motivated by my friend Cindy, a former UFL contributor.

I had submitted a test article about my virginity, and somehow, I made the cut. When I found out, I was so grateful. I’m not a journalism major, or English or any humanities–I’m a materials science and engineering major. I’m not being trained on how to write in this style like some of my peers, but I love the challenge of it.

Somehow, I have survived being a writer for Her Campus UFL for two years, and it was a great decision for me to persevere.

This is basically a reflection of my time with HC UFL, and a call for other people in STEM to join, too.

When I first joined, I did not realize that nearly everyone who’s on the team was a part of the College of Journalism and Communications. I honestly thought there would be more STEM people like me, but there were only a few. But this was a good thing for me.

During my freshman year, I mainly stuck with the friends I made in class or that were in my fraternity; I wasn’t really branching out.

Also, most of my friends were guys, so I wanted more gal pals. It enriched my experiences by working with so many students that were in disciplines vastly different than my own. I kind of get sick and tired of the competitive feel you get in engineering at times, and HC UFL gives me respite from it.

The atmosphere in HC UFL was very welcoming for me despite being an engineer. I wasn’t treated any differently because of my major.

There have been times where I didn’t understand some of the vocabulary in meetings, like search engine optimization or the words to describe different parts of an article. I’m usually really anxious to ask people what something means, but the people here are very nice and don’t look down on me for not knowing because of my discipline.

The style of writing that engineers follow in technical papers of any type is very rigid. You have to follow the same language and there are many rules with it.

At times, when I have to switch between the writing styles of HC UFL and engineering, it’s like a shock because it’s so different.

When I write technical papers, I sometimes have a hard time writing because of the language and style difference. It’s honestly a challenge that’s fun to overcome because it pushes me to work harder.

It also disciplines me into being more versatile with my writing. I can switch between the styles fairly easily now, and the style that HC UFL uses surprisingly helps with some assignments in my engineering classes. Sometimes we have to pitch engineering designs to our professors, and my work with HC UFL gives me the confidence and skills to do so. 

Another surprise that I recently discovered is that my work with HC UFL helps whenever I apply for any technical writing position (or really any position).

The rigor of having weekly deadlines on a variety of topics helps keep me on my feet and have better time management skills.

My best articles are always the ones that I take my time on and really put thought into. This pushes me to put the most effort in my engineering projects, because I know exactly what will happen if I don’t.

Also, having my editor email me weekly with critique is very humbling. It helps me become more accepting of critique, especially when I do something wrong. I used to never take the blame, even when I did something wrong—but now it’s nothing.

The thing about being an engineer in HC UFL that I am the most grateful for is that it is a platform that accepts my ideas and gives me an outlet to present them.

There are times where I’m stressed about school and all I want to do is write. Knowing that people will read my articles pushes me to write and release my stress. I have unique stories that can potentially help others and also allow for me to record my experiences.

Being able to write for HC UFL is a privilege that my engineering peers don’t get to experience, and I love it.

That’s how my experience with Her Campus UFL for the past two years has gone. Are you STEM and afraid to join because you don’t have the experience? Don’t be afraid! I came in knowing nothing and I’m still here. It’s a great experience and I encourage everyone to apply when applications come out.

HCXO,

Sophia