Top 5 things I learned from failing my EIT (engineer-in-training) exam

I use to be so afraid of letting other people know how many times I've failed the EIT exam. I had let it put a value of my own intelligence (and ego) before finally letting go of all my own personal fears of failing the exam.

It was literally FEAR and EGO that had gotten in the way of passing my exam. It wasn't because I wasn't smart enough or I didn't study hard enough. I had literally blinded myself from seeing what was the task at hand.

Make the exam a priority

You have to make the exam a priority! If you don't schedule enough time to study for an exam, you'll stress more about having to crunch than actually studying for the exam. Across the board, 1.5 to 3 months study span should be a good enough amount of time to prepare. The first time I took the exam, I studied for three months straight.

You have to be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to take the exam

Prep in all three areas! I know that may sound overwhelming, but it's true. If you're not mentally prepared to take the exam and you let your anxiety kick in, or you decided to hit it hardcore at the gym the night before, you're not fully preparing yourself for the exam! I remember drinking coffee an hour before the exam and having to rush to use the restroom (while wasting precious exam time). I also remember getting into fights with friends and would end up stressing about that instead of taking the exam. FOCUS! Focus with all you've got!

You miss every shot you don't take

Ok right CORNY! I know! But it's so true. I signed up for the exam FOUR times and took it THREE times. Not only did I waste almost $300 on exam fees, I missed an opportunity to pass the exam completely. Whatever you may feel on the day of the exam, just go for it, and give it your best shot.

You're the only one taking the exam

There is such a thing as getting too much advice from those around you. You can get stuck on online forums or recycled reference materials from a friend and you can forget what you need to do. The work!! It's so easy to get caught up with what other people did to pass the exam, whether that was pulling an all-nighter or getting a massage the day before. Do what you think works best for you!


Man if I had just listened to this from day one, I think I would of passed the first time (haha!). The test does not define how smart you are, how capable you are, or how much better you are. IT'S. JUST. A. TEST. And look, those first time passers will tell you that this is just an excuse to make yourself feel better. Well, it's not. No one will ask you how many times it took for you to pass the exam and judge you based on that. You took it. You passed. We move on!

At the end of the day failing is OKAY. It’s not the end of the world, and it definitely won’t define you as an engineer. You got this. Kick ass, and let me know what you’ve learned from failing an exam!

How to land your first engineering internship

4 Cs: confidence, cabability, contribution, and criticism

Easy to remember right? Before getting my first internship, I worked as a babysitter, at a yogurt kiosk, and in several retail stores. I had zero engineering experience but a lot of confidence in my ability to learn and contribute to the company I interned for.

I interviewed for 5 different companies and landed 2 of them. They all had a learning experience to take away from and I wanted to share that with y’all!

Be Confident in your resumé and interview

Before heading into your interview be sure that your resumé is clean and confident of your work. Interviewers appreciate a good resume that highlights your work experience (or volunteer/school experience). Be proud of the work you do regardless if it’s non-engineering work! Highlight this: education, work experience, volunteer experience, research, classes taken if relevant.

Now when going into your interview, make sure you know facts about the company, why you would benefit from interning there and just as important, how they would benefit from you. Practice your 1 minute elevator pitch in front of a friend (or mirror) and try to hit specific traits or experience that your interviewer can appreciate. Having a well rehearsed elevator pitch can be a great way to set the tone of the rest of your interview.

Never say “I don’t know,” most of the time, they know you dont know. You’re still a student! But what separates you from student to professional, is your willingness to be resourceful. Instead, say, “I don’t have that information, but I am willing to learn and use [name specific resources] or ask professionals around me.”

Have 1-2 questions you have about the company ready. More often than not, the last question will always be “do you have any questions for us” or “is there anything else you would like to add” this is the perfect time to ASK ABOUT THE COMPANY. Show them you did your research.

Now, close with a bang. Show them your passion, your confidence to learn, and your willingness to be resourceful. Your closing statement is just as powerful as your elevator pitch.

You are Capable

Don’t sell yourself short!

It’s easy to write off all the skills needed to qualify for a job, but just know you can do it when given the challenge.

Some questions will be non-technical questions which are just as important as technical questions. It does not matter how smart you are, if you cannot convey your intelligence.

Write down at least 3 challenging tasks/experiences in your college career and remember that takeaway. When you’re given a specific question, pull from that experience and give them an actual scenario. It gives the interviewers a sense of your critical thinking skills which you just provided anecdotal evidence of!

Contribute to the internship/company

When most students think of internships, they think of how can it benefit them. Look at it from a different perspective. While some companies do offer a small summer internship in which all ties are broken after the contract is over, most will agree that internships are a great way for the company to see if a student is a best fit for when they graduate. Theyre investing in your engineering education in the hopes that you will contribute to their company in the near future.

So ask yourself, how can I help the company I’m interested in? How can I market my skills from college (or past work experience — regardless if it’s engineering or not)?

If you didn’t work outside of college, make sure you are involved in engineer specific organizations! It is a disservice if you are not involved in college. You do the most learning outside of a classroom because you apply your knowledge in group settings. I was heavily involved in the American Society of Civil Engineers while taking 16 units, and juggling a part time job. It’s doable!! T hey teach you so much about collaboration, scheduling, design, and technical writing skills (so much more but I can go into that later).

Take criticism

Look not every interview you do will be a home run and that’s OKAY. If you didn’t get the internship, ask how you can improve your resume and interview skills.

This is a growing experience for you as a young student engineer so take each interview as an experience to learn from.

The best advice I got was to completely scratch my resume and start again. I had so many revisions before finally being happy with what I had. There are plenty of templates online to help out. But of course, let me know if you need help! I’m here to guide y’all 💓

Imposter syndrome

I am standing on stage, silver sparkles from head to toe, and I was just crowned "Binibining Pilipinas USA 2017" (translation: Miss Philippines USA) and I thought it was a huge mistake.

So many things were running through my head:
I'm not tall enough.
I'm not pretty enough.
I don't belong here.
I don't know how to fit in this "pageant world". I'm an engineer.

In 5 seconds I had discredited all the months of mental and physical preparation I had put into this, while juggling a part time engineering internship, and finishing my Bachelor's in Civil Engineering.

To put it in perspective, I was going to the gym and put myself on a strict meal plan everyday to get "swimsuit ready", I had signed up for coaching that cost me 100s of dollars, made flashcards of every single question imaginable, and manifested winning by writing in a journal. I did A LOT and yet I still questioned my win.

I was going through Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is a mindset that a person chronically will put themselves in, where they feel they aren't deserving of their accomplishments and they would be found as "fraud" despite external proof of success.

Fast forward to a year later, I was finishing up my masters degree in Civil Engineering at my dream school, UCLA -- on a full ride, and I remember leading up to graduation, thinking of every single possible reason not to walk on stage because I felt like I didn't deserve it. -- Despite taking the GRE, writing essays, gathering letter of recommendations, and juggling grad school and pageant duties while working part-time as a student engineer. I kept having to mentally tell myself: I fucking deserve to be here. I worked so hard! Why am I being so hard on myself?? Now that you've read through the top two times I can distinctly remember imposter syndrome, I don't need the "you're awesome, what do you mean you feel this way" speech. I KNOW. (I know that I'm awesome, but sometimes ya mind plays some dirty ass tricks on you ok?)

Here are ways I've dealt with/overcame imposter syndrome and how you can implement your brain to do this out of muscle memory.

1. Take a step back and remind yourself of all the work you did to get where you are.

BREATHE DUDE! You deserve the success you have. Remember, at some point this was all a dream for you. Think about all the long nights, the crying (ok, well...I was crying), the amount of sacrifices you had to make with relationships, time, gym. YOU FUCKING DID IT. Breathe it all in. I remember having to do this a lot while I was at UCLA, I had to remind myself of middle school Nikki, talking about how I was going to go to UCLA for undergrad (I did not), being let down because I didn't get in and then finally manifesting it for grad school. This was a dream for me at some point and I made it a reality.

2. Create visual self-affirmations

You have to tell your subconscious self that you are worthy of the accomplishments and success around you. Whether that's routine meditation or journal-ing, or creating cute post-its -- create visual reminders that you are worthy of success. If you have to remind yourself on a daily basis that you are worthy, than do it! I remember when I was having a hard time feeling like a queen because all those negative thoughts, I would go back to my notes I had made on my phone, and I would read them. It sounds super ridiculous sharing them now, but past Nikki knew future Nikki would need those self-affirmations. "You are a queen, people we're rooting for you. You were matching the crown from head to toe. You deserved it." Keep your head space in a positive light, and you will always find your way back to your goals.

3. Find comfort in your support system

Okay, so I'm not saying every single freaking time you feel shitty you go to whoever it is you go to and find affirmation in their words. Go through 1 and 2 first. You got yourself in this imposter syndrome, you can pull yourself out (remember your brain is a muscle, train it, and every single time you'll get out of that negative head space way quicker). Now, if you're really in a funk, find your brother/sister, parent, mentor, boyfriend -- whoever that is and make sure they know you. I remember distinctively reading something my sister had posted after I won the pageant. She talked about how not many people saw me struggle, they only saw the highlight real, but she saw the day-to-day I had to go through to be able to win that crown. She knew the whole story, she knew me. If you're reading this Aly, I love you :)

What are your thoughts on imposter syndrome? How do you deal with it? Let me know!

What you need to know

when you’re moving out with your fiancé

Now going into our 3rd month of rental payments (oh trust me, I don't know when I'll stop physically feeling pain seeing LA rent (-) from my bank account), I wanted to go into things you should know when moving out with your significant other. As a background, Keanu and I use to rent in Brentwood back when I was still in grad school at UCLA in 2017/18. We then moved back to my parents house into my childhood bedroom with our cat...and her cat litter unfortunately. We had no savings, a ton of debt and frankly, had no direction in where we wanted to go in the next chapter in our lives. So this was a really great move (and I'm super thankful for my loving parents). A yearish later, here we are!

Adulting can suck, here are 6 tips to make moving out a lot easier

figure out a monthly budget that won't make both of you worry paycheck to paycheck

This should include rent + utilities (if not included in rent) + groceries + subscriptions/wifi. All those extra amenities (aka not rent) can add up to an extra $300-400 a month if not accounted for. Talk to your SO about how you plan on splitting up your expenses. The general rule of thumb is 30% of your paycheck (after taxes) — if you can do less than that even better. Also talking about having joint bank account or having one person handling finances is super important.

figure out what your hard "no"s are between the both of you

Specifically for my fiance, it was parking. His cars are his baby and secured/covered parking was a big deal for him. Mine was location. I wanted to be far enough away from home (that it made sense to move out) but close enough to the freeway so I can get to work a lot faster. Talk to your SO in the beginning so when you guys look together, you can already eliminate a lot of the headache of going back and forth.

have enough savings to include rent & random move-in expenses

I WISH we had listened to this one honestly. I'm putting it on here to save you guys the trouble and trust me, the less anxiety you have about moving out, the better. In all honesty we probably had about 2x the rent before moving out which was then all eventually taken by random things like kitchen ware or furniture (sorry mom, I stole your paper towel holder lol!).

create individual space for the both of you, even in a one bedroom apartment

I mean it! I know for my fiance and I, we need our personal space a lot. He has a ton of car parts and I just have a ton of shit in general. So taking the time to make sure we have a space to claim as our own was very important. Take the time to really get to know the apartment you're planning on renting and have an idea of what space you would like to make your own.

download all the rental apps/websites and use them to your advantage

Sometimes some spaces are listed on one website but not the other, which can get super confusing. I was constantly checking on all of them to make sure I was getting a good range of apartments in my area.

Here are the websites that I used to find an apartment around Los Angeles.

random pet peeves you may have that you never considered

I didn't even think this was a thing until it happened in our first apartment two years ago. Biggest pet peeve: where the window is located as the sun rises/sets. Our bedroom would get so hot because the sun would face our room the whole afternoon, so we were never in there!

Here are random things to consider that you may not think about:
-flooring (carpet/wood)
-Central AC/wall unit
-local grocery stores
-nearest gym
-closet/storage space
-noise level/type of neighbors
-access to your apartment/what floor you're on
-type of lighting (if you're selfier like me you KNOW)
-type of appliances

I asked Keanu what his list was:
-toilet seat size/height of the toilet (this one is actually a good one not gonna lie haha)
-type of shower head

Are you guys moving out soon? What are things you look for? Let me know!


The past couple years I've learned the power of stepping out of my comfort zone. Whether it was going into engineering despite my parents wishes (not to mention the fact that it's a male dominated field) or doing a pageant despite my own self doubts. Or as of recently, going "all-in" on social media despite being very afraid of what others might think. All these uncomfortable decisions, had weighed more rewards than criticisms -- and I want to be able to share all those experiences!

so why #queengineer?
I was debating back and forth whether or not I should name my blog queengineer, but I realized that every boss babe is a queengineer. So I couldn't take the name for myself. I want ya'll to use it! I coined this name when I was competing in pageants and finishing my civil engineering degree at CSUN/UCLA. It was something I made for fun, but it's a title that I felt like encompasses all the engineers out there!

YOU ARE A MF QUEEN. YOU ARE A MF ENGINEER. Give yourself credit!

So here's a quick snippet of me:

Hi, my name is Nikki. I am a full time civil engineer in Los Angeles. A part from my career as an engineer, I want this blog to be an extension of what I love doing, sharing, and creating. I want to share the truth and story. I want to learn from all of you!

I'm a young working female living in the outskirts of Los Angeles with my fiance, Keanu and our kitty, Luna. I am a first generation Filipino-American who recently just moved out of her parent's house to start a new chapter of my life -- engaged! I have bachelors and masters in Civil Engineering, I love to travel, I'm a horrible $$$ saver, and addicted to anything too salty or sweet. Now, This space is a creative outlet for me to share things from being a female in engineering to my journey as a bride.

My blog will be what I make of it -- I'll get lost, meander, and hopefully find some e-friends a long the way!