I am in the final year of my engineering degree (heaven knows; I might even end up doing a Masters). But sometimes, I reminisce about the good ol’ days as a first year – the fun, but also some of the less-than-smart choices I made back then. Although, for the record, I don’t regret my mistakes one bit. They are my battle scars and they tell an epic story.

As one of the new Engineering Student Ambassadors for this year I do, however, feel it is my duty-of-care to share some wisdom with the fierce young-bloods just starting their monumental journey called Engineering.

So, here goes. These are the eight false beliefs and mistakes I made in my first year:

1. I didn’t get involved in any student societies because I thought I would be too overwhelmed with change.

Wrong! Believe it or not, I got this advice from someone during O-Week and took it as the Bible. Now I believe that joining a student society straight away – anything from the Chocolate Society to Sunswift the solar car project - challenges you to become more efficient with your study time and builds your ability to cope under pressure. Not only that, you can jump ahead by gaining leadership skills.

2. Good marks aren’t important. As long as I just pass.

Wrong again! You need to try your best to achieve good results from the start. Not just for gaining employment but to fully utilise your potential. Also, if you want to transfer to another degree your marks are important.

3. I’m so lonely. I wish my school friends did engineering at UNSW too. I’m going to sulk.

It’s true: you can’t change the circumstances around you, but you can change the way you react to them. Step-outside your shell as soon as possible and meet as many people as you can, from your tutors to your peers and student-society mates.

4. I can’t be bothered going to lectures. I can read the lecture notes and get by.

Happens to everyone. But, go to all your lectures! Lecturers provide extra information and solve extra example problems. (Hint: These usually come up in the exams.)

5. Roundhouse parties are such a waste. Besides, I live too far.

False! This is one thing you absolutely should do as a first year!

6. I’m here to become an engineer and should only do engineering-related activities.

Well, just because you want to be an engineer doesn’t mean you can’t join the Arts Society or United Nations Society. Part of being a good engineer is to gain new perspectives and this can open up new career opportunities in unconventional-yet-cool areas.

7. I shouldn’t do part-time work because it will affect my studies.

False! Getting a part-time job not only has monetary benefits to fund your ostentatious student-lifestyle but gives you a sense of independence and helps in character building. However, a warning, prioritising work over your studies will have detrimental effects.

8. I’m only going to be friends with first and second years. I don’t think anyone else would want to talk to me.

I have no idea why I did this. But, I would like to say this to my former-self: “Honey! This isn’t high-school.” Making friends with seniors and higher degree students (PhDs and Masters) can offer a type of informal mentorship and be hugely beneficial.

I will admit these mistakes did stunt my personal development for a bit, but I think they also made me dig deeper and even helped me in the long-run. The crux of my post is to be a sort of guidebook to avoid some silly mistakes, but having said that, it’s totally okay to make them. Look at me, I turned out just fine when I realised the error of my ways.

This article first appeared on the UNSW Engineering website.