I am a senior studying mechanical engineering. In the past years I focused on my classes and grades. Although being a top student is a dream come true, just as important is being prepared to step into a company or business and use my academic knowledge.
This semester I was honored to be an Entrepreneurship Austin trip attendee along with 15 other students who were either business or engineering majors. This trip was four days long and arranged by the College of Business and the College of Engineering. In this trip, we visited many companies, some well-known such as Dell, IBM and National Instruments and other small, but magnificent companies like AcademicWorks, TVA Medical and Blue Avocado. This trip helped me to not only find my role models for my future career planning, but also improve my self-confidence as a female engineer.
“I realized that engineering and business are tied into one another. Many engineers who hold top positions in big companies have great knowledge of marketing, business and financing.”
The most important question I had before going to this trip was, how did these people got to where they are now? Most of the company owners told us that they started from scratch and failed a couple of times before they got to where they are now.
We were invited to the house of Mike McConnell, president of Jones Energy. He introduced us the book, Who Moved My Cheese.
“If you want to be successful in business, you have to like change,” said Mike. He told us how he failed in his career, but he did not give up and started over again.
This to me is a true success and passion, where you do not give up, even though you have failed badly and lost everything. In another visit to AcademicWork, the co-founders were four young engineers and businessmen. They described the first place where they started their company. It was very small and mice ran all over the place, and even then, the founders were kicked out and had to start over. I learned that I can be one of them if I am passionate about what I do. Nothing should stop me, not even an old office with mice running all over it, or even lack of money.
As a female engineer, I have always wondered how to become successful and hold high positions in companies. I met very successful women who are great leaders and who motivated me to be one. Blue Avocado was founded and is led by three women. The company makes bags from recycled plastic bags. These businesswomen started the company and grew it to perfection. I also met an entrepreneur female, Carrie Arsenault, who established her company, Accountability Resources, which was ranked the top five in the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work. She is successful and a great mother of two. Anyone would be proud to see these passionate and successful businesswomen and engineers who have transformed the characteristics of women in society. Being confident, determined, willing to try, fail, and try again are factors that they all emphasized as important bridge to success.
Phil Gilbert, IBM vice president of business process & decision management, told the female students, “We need more female engineers, we need you here.”
I learned a lot in this trip and I was proud to attend as a mechanical engineering student.
I would like to thank Dr. Farrokh Mistree for nominating me and the College of Engineering committee, Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Hughes, who selected me to be part of this trip. It was a great experiment for me and I will never forget it.