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Brendan Coady

Dear First-Year Me,


You have successfully made it further than anyone else in your family has ever ventured into the world of post-secondary education. This is a celebration, and you deserve it.

Your journey has just begun however, and as you take this first step, a few words of caution from, quite literally, an older, wiser, (better looking) you.

Sleep.Get. More. Sleep.I know you are going to resist this advice, but please reconsider. Just because you CAN go on 5-6 hours per night doesn’t mean you should. Do yourself a favour and go to bed early tonight. You’ll thank me later.

Meet EverybodyUniversity is an opportunity for you to meet hundreds of new and interesting people almost daily. Do not waste this. Never again will you have such an opportunity. Everyone has a story. Everyone has something to share. Everyone can teach you something.Some of the people you meet will turn into life-long friends. Some will fade into obscurity. Some will become business partners. Some will become life partners. All of them have a lesson.

EngineeringSo you remember on your first day of Orientation Week when they told you that your program is the equivalent of a full-time job? Remember how you shook your head and laughed it off? Well, maybe reconsider that. For the first time in your life, you will fail exams, you will get assignments back drowning in red ink, and you will feel like a failure. But never think that this makes you a failure. You will learn some lessons the hard way, no doubt, but try your best to learn from those who came before you. Like Dad always said: “You have to learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t possibly make them all yourself.” Never has this been more true.

But don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the first step to success. And you will succeed. So stick with it.

Pick YourselfThe most important thing is to remember why you picked this path. Fall in love over and over again with the beauty of nature, science, mathematics, physics and the design of the world around you. Improve on things that exist, and create things that never were. Walk this path because you want to, not because you have to.

Know that not all roads lead where you think they will, but any road can lead you where you want to go.

So take a big leap. Ask her out. Do an exchange. Travel. Apply to that job. Go to the gym. Learn a new skill. Make a fool of yourself. Go outside. Take a deep breath. Read a good book. Call your mom. Walk the long way home. Take a nap. Cry. Laugh good and hard. Like, really hard. Smile. Pray. Love. Stay up late. Wake up early. Eat some cake. Tell them how you feel. Break the rules. Explore.

Choose the person you want to be.

But know that you can change your mind.And never stop surprising yourself.It all works out in the end anyways.

Much love,

– Future Brendan

About the Author

4A Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Co-Founder and Lead Design Engineer at Boogaloo Bunks

My name is Brendan Coady and I’m a Fourth-Year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. I’m also the Co-Founder and Lead Design Engineer at Boogaloo Bunks, where we are designing a universal solution for shared sleeping spaces that increase privacy, security and comfort. I’m a huge foodie, love to cook, drink more coffee than any reasonable human being should, and have worked in 6 different industries on 2 continents through my co-ops. I’m always free for a quick chat, so feel free to reach out!

Email: [email protected]

Twitter handle: @bk2coady


I had the amazing opportunity to do a co-op term in Germany alongside two of my best friends – Peter Hoskin and Jae Han – and we finished our trip with an adventure through the Netherlands. Staying with friends, we spent an evening biking around the nearby villages and marvelling at the windmills and dikes. I’m the one in the yellow pants, Peter is to my right, Jae to my left, and our gracious host Kirsten on the left side.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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