Results Day or: How I Learned to Accept ‘Defeat’

Afternoon Readers, today’s post will be devoid of any F1 gossip, going for the more ‘student lifestyle’ approach, but don’t worry, they’ll be no grotesque stories. I hope…

Anyway, as many of you no doubt have seen the past week, there’s been an influx of ‘Look how amazing I am’ tweets and Facebook posts, owing to the recent release of University exam results. Today marks the results day for the University of Bath (the most prestigious and talent-filled in the land, don’t believe the League Tables…) Now before I get into the swing of things, I want to make it clear that I’m not belittling anybody who has done exceedingly well, nor am I patronising those who’ve performed below where they expected to be. I’m simply offering my $0.02 as to the ‘exam culture’. Many of my friends are superior to me academically. Many are superior physically. And almost all of them are superior socially. But the ones that are the real gems, the ones that reach out and show you they aren’t just another statistic, are the ones that aren’t that bothered about exam results.

‘WHOA!’ you say, ‘But Pragmatic Engineer, exams are everything we work for!!’ I’d imagine 95% of students at University believe that this is the one undeniable truth in the world. But alas, like all truths (such as carrots giving night vision and that the girl at the bar thinking about your personality before your pecs) is unfortunately not true. Yes, having that First Class degree will certainly unlock all the doors for you but, at the end of the day, a piece of paper can’t turn the handle and open it (okay, it can if you wrap it round, but seriously? It’s a metaphor…). This is where I bring my personal experiences into the fray, and again, it’s not the be-all and end-all of academic discussion, so don’t think you can never revise again.

Engineering is a different breed to other disciplines. Many of my non-engineering friends would have you believe its more a mutt than the prize Pedigree (Ped-degree? Get it?), but I like to think of them as simply different classes. Now what I find to be the case is that we are brought up to believe that a first-class degree will land you the first-class job, and so on. But an element of placement hunting, more prominent in Engineering roles, that I enjoyed, as a classic under-achiever, was the development and advertisement of your Skills, not just your Grades. The people in my cohort are some of the brightest I know, but the people who look to have the most rewarding placements? The ones who showed their employers that their ‘average grades’ weren’t the only thing they could do.

The point i’m trying to make is this: got that 97% mark this year? Fantastic! (Why are you reading this? You should be drunk already!) You have resits? Fantastic! You have a middle of the road mark? Fantastic!

YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRADES. You are the person that can pick themselves up after having a terrible day in the Maths exam, and almost quadruple your mark at the resit. Resilience is what employers need. It’s a dog eat dog world, and you’re wearing milkbone underpants. But the difference is, you can fight the dogs off when you get to your high-pressure career, those who’ve never had a hard day in their life will have to learn how to pretty sharpish. All-nighters are the backbone of a good engineer, and i’d wager that not a single employee of the top companies in the world could say they’ve never done one.

I don’t really know what to say. I’m only writing this because I have never got any set of results without going through the same process for most of them:

  1. Oh Thank God! No resits!
  2. This isn’t too shabby, can bring the marks up
  3. *text mates* Oh, well they are much better than me anyway
  4. *text other mates* Oh come on!!! HE BEAT ME?!
  5. Sit pissed off browsing facebook
  6. ??????
  7. Realise my current position in life
  8. Thank my lucky stars

I urge you all to remember to do steps 6, 7 and 8. Because you’re just as good as the guy that got 300% in his exams. You’re also just as good as the guy that did no work and got that 1% better than you. Have some self-belief; because at the end of the day, for the 50 years after you graduate, it’s the way you interact with people, approach challenges and conduct yourself that get you the best opportunities in life.

And anyway, you can only call yourself Desmond if you get a 2-2 (Desmond Tutu, get it?) And who wouldn’t want to be called Desmond?



Pragmatic Engineer (can you tell I don’t like exams yet? The clue’s in the name)