Engineering is one of the easiest careers to get out of, and I’ll tell you why. My background was in computer science as my undergraduate degree. Then I have a degree in industrial and systems engineering for my master’s and Ph.D., focusing on artificial intelligence and simulation analysis.
So I was very much wedded to this engineering life, and my first job out was a great job at a defense laboratory with excellent play and raises and a great boss, but I was not too fond of the job. I loved the only part of it when I was presenting the solution to the client, showing them how we could save them thousands, if not millions of dollars. Showing them how we could cut their process time down, how we could make their process better. And seeing them react to that and being happy about it, that’s what I loved about the job and pretty much nothing else, and that was just not enough to stay in a job.
So I’m in it for a few years now, and I’m like, “I’ve got to get out. I got to get out. I can’t do this anymore.” So I’m developing an exit strategy, right at the same time I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and then everything just stopped, and I decided to quit. I said, “This is my exit. I’m getting out. I need to quit because I can’t heal naturally with the stress of a job that I don’t like and all of the deadlines and all the things that come with it.”
So I had been given an out on a silver platter, and I took it. And then I went about the business of learning how to heal myself naturally. So I took that engineering skill of research and started using it to pull up the journal articles and evaluate whether the studies were valid and whether it’s something that I could use for myself and looking at the information to see if it made sense in conjunction with the scientific journals and articles. And I came up with a plan, a nutrition plan, and healed myself using the skillset of engineering.
Now, I’m coming to the end of this healing process, which was about a year I had given myself, and I’m thinking, I’m going to have to go back to work soon. What am I going to do? Am I going to go back to engineering? And I said, “No, I cannot do it. I’ve been given an out, and I’m not going back in. I’m going to figure out how to do anything else.” And at first, I was stuck because I was thinking, well, what am I going to do with this skillset and all these coding languages, the simulation languages I know, and who’s going to need me to do that? After looking at all of the statistics, “What job does that fit well with?”
I was then consulting with the career expert, and he helped me take a step back and look at my accurate skillset, the skillset of an engineer that most have. Very logical, thinking things through from start to finish, thinking of all the pitfalls, thinking of all the contingencies, and coming up with a contingency plan and doing the cost-benefit analysis, looking at things from their root cause, wanting to solve problems, and always curious about how things work—looking at being very accurate, still taking pride in being authentic and precise and being the person who knows the most on this topic.
That’s the engineers that I know, and I had that skill set all over the place. So I thought this is something I could apply to pretty much anything that I want to do. Now, all I have to do is find my passion and use that skill set to that, and then we have a winning combination, and that’s what I did. I found a job that was a nutrition policy manager for teaching people how to use nutrition to prevent illnesses and heal. And so I said, “Well, I don’t have a degree in nutrition, and I’m not going back to school for that right now. But I do have a skillset in solving problems. I do know how to heal the body with food, which is what nutrition should all be about.”
And so I wrote the best cover letter I’ve ever written in my life about how I was the perfect person for this job and the strong analytical skillset that I could bring to a job like that. And you know what? I got the job just like that. I got the interview. I got the job. I had already packed up my house from Albuquerque to move to DC, even before I got the job offer because I was just that certain this was for me.
And if you are that engineer who feels stuck, like you don’t know what to do and want to get out of this life you’ve created, and you realize the engineering life isn’t for you, you want to do something different. Maybe you want to do something hands-on or more in tune with people and interaction, human interaction, and things like that. If you are trying to get out of that life, you created an into something you love, just like I did, I would love to help you.
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