Brand U Work in the Disruption Economy

Posts by margaux

Risk Thought Leader: Ed Perkins

Ed-Perkins-pix-150x150Ed Perkins is an electrical engineer and cyber security guru who is a candidate for 2017 President-elect of IEEE USA, the U.S. group of the biggest technical society in the world. Ed talks with us about what makes engineering cool, the importance of STEM, and the future of technology. 

Ed Perkins CIA CERM is also the developer of the Certified Enterprise Risk Manager® – Cyber Security™ certificate and is an expert on the NIST Risk Management Framework. READ MORE »

STEM Graduate: Chelsea Dover

chelseaChelsea Dover is a PDX Code Guild graduate. She’s been homeschooled since first grade. She is now 15 and well on her way to accomplishing her dream of being a coder. This is her story.

STEM Graduate: Katie Dover

Katie DoverKatie Dover is a programmer who recently graduated from the PDX Code Guild Bootcamp in Portland Oregon, USA. She is the daughter of Sheri Dover, the founder of the PDX Code Guild. In this interview, Katie talks about what she thinks about programming and how it has helped her Katie Dover is a programmer who achieve her dreams. READ MORE »

Technology Thought Leader: Sheri Dover

Sheri DoverSheri Dover is an entrepreneur and founder of the PDX Code
Guild. She is a thought leader in the Portland tech startup community. Here, she talks with us about how the PDX Code Guild helps people get high-paying jobs in the technology sector.


I’m Scared of Problem Sets


Now, I’ve got your attention.

My name is Margaux. I’m 16. I’m studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects and interning at a tech startup –

So, what’s my problem?

Problem sets? Say what?

What are Problem Sets?

Problem sets are problem solving and decision making STEM based exercises, that I have to suffer daily.

Aside from doing the problem set, I’m expected to write a narrative on how to solve the problem and potential decisions that can come out of it.

I work on math, software (JAVA), and physics problem sets every day as part of my homeschooling. Sometimes they are easy. Sometimes they are just right. Sometimes they are brain bursting.

When they are brain busters, things happen. I stab my pencil on my notebook. I scream like crazy (OK internally). I have to walk around until I can get back to the problem set.

I think all STEM kids go through this as we are under pressure to do good in these hard subjects.

The Head Game

My frustrations:

My biggest battles are not with the problem sets but with what’s going on in my head. Specifically the messages I give myself.

I think that I can’t do the problems before I have even worked on them. I don’t want my teacher to look at me with disappointment, disapproval, and frustration. It makes me ashamed.

Even though I understand the subjects, I’m not confident that I can do the problem sets. I freak out and go through a mental list of bad things that can happen because I don’t think I understand the material.

There’s a voice in my head that tells me:

You might have to re-learn this. Don’t get too confident. You might have to do more problems and you’ll be behind on all of your other work.

I get antsy and lose focus.

When I become like this, I forget how to solve the problem or I won’t try at all. I’ll stare at the problem, but I’m not trying to solve it. I’m trying to figure out how I can escape the frustration that comes with solving the hard problem.

Mastering the Game

I’m learning how to beat the mental game. How to clear my head when I get frustrated. How to stop escaping and sit my butt down. How to figure out how to solve the problem.

At these times, I give myself a lot of reassurance. I become my imaginary cheerleader.

Even though I still dislike going through the grit of doing problem sets, I’m getting better at resilience and self-discipline. Those are hard lessons to learn. I’m learning what engineers, programmers, and entrepreneurs do day-in and day-out:

Solving problems and fighting the head game.