Why Engineering? - From Business to STEM
It all started back when…
In high school I spent two semesters focusing on health fields and I was truly prepared to go off to college in pursuit of Nursing or something similar. I took all of the required Health Science classes. I spent several months job shadowing in hospitals and doctor offices of many specialized areas.
I actually really enjoyed learning about the human body and the sciences, but I didn’t quite enjoy the jobs I experienced. Nevertheless, I am so glad I did it. It gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the field.
I went on and graduated with an A.S., General Business from a local community college. Having worked in the service industry as my first college job and being groomed into a leadership role at the time, I enjoyed working under pressure and thinking on my feet.
I became super customer-service oriented because of such and have been exploring potential business ideas ever since. But I also didn’t necessarily believe that a business degree was going to get me there, after all…both of my parents (and many of my family members) became entrepreneurs without one!
I just felt like something was missing - I still felt unsatisfied or incomplete in terms of choosing a “career path”. This is when I really honed in on what I possibly wanted to do. So I sat out a semester and started considering all potential career fields (even more specific business routes).
I researched every single week - all of the majors and degrees my Uni and other Uni’s offered. And for each, I searched for more specific things like job pros + cons, day to day tasks, outlook/demand, stability and security, etc.
I did this via the internet, talking to academic advisers, peers, and even YouTube - never relying on a single source.
During that time, I came across Engineering.
My initial thoughts were “there’s no way I can do this.” I mean…aren’t Engineers like, really smart? I had very little to no exposure or prior interests in STEM. Girls “like me” in high school didn’t go on to become engineers.
Math wasn’t even my strong suit. When I asked people if they thought whether I would be a good fit, they looked at me like I was crazy. “But you don’t blend in with the rest of them.” “Aren’t you like…to be pretty to be an engineer?”
And that’s when I knew that I could do it. When I was able to give myself so much validation, that I didn’t even care what I lacked in knowledge or experience at the time, or who society deemed as engineer-esq. Despite not fitting the stereotype, the challenges were super exciting to me.
I’m a natural problem solver, I love science and I thought there was a ton of cool opportunities to be explored. I’m also a quick learner, team-oriented and enjoyed creatively determining solutions. I used all of those as reasons to why I could crush it in the field.
I was thrilled. I started to look around and think about how the world has evolved, because of engineers! Although there is a certain level of problem solving in just about every field, engineering to me was on a much larger scale. And honestly, go big or home *hair flip emoji*.
I became interested in the field for many reasons:
I get to solve the world’s problems, literally.
Engineers either create things that don’t exist or make the existing things better. Winning?
It’s everywhere, from personal technology to billion dollar industry projects.
It’s both technical and creative. We take a problem, whether large or small, and find a solution. Talk about getting to be imaginative!
The results from our projects and our contribution to society is magnanimous. From space exploration, to national security, to the environment. We’ve got you covered!
And let’s not leave out demands, security and benefits!
I chose Mechanical specifically, because…
I thought it was the most concrete. I learn best by seeing and doing. I like knowing that I can help take a concept and turn it into something practical - a real, functioning entity.
I also liked it, because it was broad and less field-specific (such as Aerospace). This was important for me in the beginning, because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted yet.
A B.S., Mechanical Engineering seemed to be flexible and mostly aligns with what I deemed important. And from my experience, this has been proven true! I’ve gained experience in a variety of fields such as robotics, thermal systems, propulsion and structures.
If I could give my younger self advice
Sometimes I wish I could go back and encourage myself to explore more opportunities that scared me or that I would’ve thought “wasn’t for me”. I steered from STEM for so long, because the field highly lacks public representations of women figures such as myself.
I would’ve pushed myself to broaden my interests and curiosity early on, as well as to put myself out there more! There are a ton of opportunities to be explored and people who are willing to help along the way.
Nevertheless, I am still so thankful. Our journeys will consist of failure, rejection and redirection, which all advances learning experiences. I do not at all regret my prior decisions or paths, as they’ve molded me into, well, me!