Everyone piles into a room, grabs a chair, and opens their notebook. You’re in a meeting. If you’ve never worked in an environment where meetings were a regular thing, it can be somewhat of a culture shock. My reaction the first few times was that I would rather be working in my cube productively than getting sucked into a meeting for a few hours. There’s still the occasional meeting that warrants a groan, but I’ve learned it’s often important to be there in person. Topics will undoubtedly come up that, if left in solace, you would be oblivious to. You would not be able to contribute or be able to provide critical feedback on items of discussion. You’re part of a team now and meetings can really help build a strong team over time (or help you become part of an existing one).

The hardest part of meetings is not taking things too personally. Most engineers have some level of personal investment in their projects. Everybody else has personal investments too and it can be all too easy to go on the defensive because someone else has a differing opinion. The more passionate the team is the more often this comes up. I find a great deal of value in those differing opinions, personalities, and goals. Each person on the team has strengths which come to play for the benefit of everyone, your project, and your organization. If you’re receptive, you might even pick up a new perspective from someone who disagrees with you.

Another factor in these meetings is your own contribution. You’ve been hired not just because of your skills but also because someone saw something unique in you that they wanted to bring into their team. Maybe you balance out other perspectives or bring energy to the room that wasn’t there before. Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to contribute what you think when it bears relevance to the discussion.

Nathan Levesque is one of the key engineers at My Perfect Gig who makes stuff happen.  Nathan graduated from college in May 2008 and shares his thoughts and insight into the real world of working as an engineer through his blog “My First Gig”.