The term engineer automatically makes me picture a software engineer – it’s a popular career choice, and I have a lot of friends who have chosen that path for their lives. What some people may not know, is that engineer doesn’t always have to apply to software! My BFF Liz and I know that there are SO MANY industries where you can be an engineer! And we’re going to explore some of the options.
To start off, Liz is a Mechanical Engineer for a major wine company. She is a wine lover and has worked her way up to the title of Advanced Engineer. She is truly brilliant! She is one of only a few female engineers in at her plant, and I’m so excited to dive into her experience!
Let’s get started!
Question #1: How did you get into Mechanical Engineering?
“In college, I decided I wanted to do mechanical engineering so I could have a versatile degree no matter what industry I chose. I knew I could find a great job with this degree. Also, you don’t need to do any graduate school or get a doctorate to get a good job!”
“With mechanical engineering, I ended up in the wine industry. I was able to do this because my degree was so versatile instead of really industry specific. I am so glad I chose mechanical engineering.”
Question #2: What are some things you wish people told you before you graduated with a degree in Engineering?
“What I wish people had told me before graduating is about all of the industries I had never heard of. When you’re in school you’ll get people coming in from the super tech industries like Google and Apple – more of the design industries and they tell you, ‘oh this is where you need to work if you want a job’. What I wish I had heard is if you’re an engineer there are so many other industries you can get into.”
“I chose the food industry which included the wine industry, but it also includes any sort of plant and manufacturing type of industry. I wish I had heard from more speakers in college about these other options!”
“I wish I could tell younger engineers that there are so many options. They can go into any industry whether it be wine or cheese or fruit juice. You can go into anything you want because every industry is looking for engineers to help efficiently develop these things in the tech space.”
“Real-time data is what these industries are looking for. They want to know what they’re producing, how they can get better, and what they can cut out. They want to know how to achieve that ‘super efficiency’ we always hear about. And they need us to do it.“
“You don’t need to work at Google to have a successful career. You can have a great career in so many industries that no one ever talks about.”
Question #3: What is it like being a female Engineer?
“Being a female engineer is different than what some people say. I am one of the only female engineers in my specific department.”
Being the only female, you have to remember that you are strong, you are smart and when people question what you know you just have to remember to stand up for yourself.”
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that when you’re in a meeting, say what you think, value your own opinion. Because when you stay quiet, it is assumed that you don’t know things. But know that you have the knowledge that everyone else has.”
“Share your thoughts. Even if you’re scared that it’s the wrong thought. Even if you’re not sure your opinion is the right opinion. The worst thing you can do is not share your opinion. You have to show that you’re willing to say what you think.”
Bonus: What are
competitive advantages of being one of the only women in your department?
“When you’re an engineer, male or female, people can assume you’re antisocial and can’t talk to people, and you’re not going to be able to communicate your opinion. In this industry, communication of what you think and your opinion is the most important thing.”
“In a meeting, being able to articulate your opinion shocks people.”
“Sometimes when you’re a woman in the department they automatically assume you’re the office mom, you remember birthdays and add fun calendar events and get people to sign birthday cards.”
“But you need to show them you’re more than that. You have ideas and are more than “Hey, sign this birthday card.”
Bonus: What are other industries people can get into as an engineer besides working at Facebook or Google?
“Any company that has a project that they want to invest in building, needs an engineer. In my time I’ve worked in the juice, cheese and now wine industries. It doesn’t matter what the product is. The point is companies have a product, they want to sell, and they want to make the product with equipment.”
“It doesn’t have to be a super tech company, it doesn’t have to be on a computer. You can be out in the field, looking at real things, which is what I love!”
I’m not sure I can sum up all of this amazingness! But I will certainly try. Some of the main takeaways from my interview with Liz, the Mechanical Engineer are:
- Make your opinions known, even if you’re scared they’re not right!
- Stand up for yourself at all times
- You don’t have to work at Google to be a successful engineer!
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