A few years ago, we hosted a Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day at our home office in Pleasanton, CA. During introductions, several parents told the children what they did and how they chose their particular profession (you can see what my son thinks I do in my bio). At our home office, we have accounting, finance, product management, IT, administration, marketing, and a few others I’m probably missing, so it is a diverse group the kids heard from that day.
And the careers were often not what people had originally planned for. Many shared wonderful stories about the twists and turns their careers took until they finally discovered their passion and job satisfaction. Often, this was a career that they didn’t even know existed when they chose a major in college or first entered the workforce.
So, what was my story?
It wasn’t twisting and turning – I went to college to become a structural engineer. Hearing others tell their career stories that day did get me thinking about why I’d chosen a major before I even started college. Sure, I knew in sixth or seventh grade that I would probably be some kind of engineer since I enjoyed math and science and did well in it, but what made me zero in on structural engineering? And I figured out the exact date – October 17, 1989. I was in high school and had just gotten home from basketball practice, ready to watch the San Francisco Giants play the Oakland A’s in the World Series, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the Bay Area.
Seeing the damage to freeways, businesses and homes throughout the Bay Area had a tremendous impact on me that I probably didn’t realize at the time. In the months following the quake, I watched dozens of news reports and read everything I could about why different structures were damaged and how they were being rebuilt. I learned that there were these people out there called structural engineers that designed and detailed structures to resist the forces they would be subjected to, including natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes. And that’s what I wanted to do.
Some people might say they “fell into” a certain profession, but as an engineer, I believe that most of us chose this field for a reason. For me, I chose my career after a natural disaster showed me how important it is that we have safe structures. With deadlines, budgets, construction challenges and new building codes to keep learning, the day-to-day work can be difficult. But at the end of a work day, I still get a lot of satisfaction in knowing that what we do as structural engineers matters.
So, what excites YOU about structural engineering? Let us know by posting a comment.
What are your thoughts? Visit the blog and leave a comment!