You can get a mentor who is a professional scientist or engineer in industry or government through MentorNet. Apply online at MentorNet.net at anytime during the year. Open to Dartmouth men and women undergraduates, graduates, post docs and junior faculty.
• When did science first spark your interest?
High School chemistry and physics
• How were you involved in science before college?
Only in my classes
• What were your academic major(s)/minor(s) in college? How did you decide what to focus on?
I started off with chemistry, then combined engineering and chemistry, and finally switched to full engineering. I learn best by working through problems and once chemistry turned more into memorization, I realized that wasn’t a good fit for me. I didn’t know what engineering was until I started college, so it wasn’t a consideration before then.
• What science-related activities did you participate in, if any? Were they important and why?
I had WISP internships my freshman and sophomore years and worked for a professor during an off-term my junior year. I did part of my MEM in Germany and worked in a materials lab there. They were all very different and gave me great insight into what research was like.
• What made you decide to pursue science as your career?
When I graduated with an environmental engineering degree, so I looked for jobs with environmental engineering in the description. I really had no idea of what I was getting into. I never considered not pursuing engineering.
• During college, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do after graduation?
“Engineering,” though I didn’t really know what that meant in terms of what my job might look like.
• How did you decide what to do after college? What were your goals, etc.?
My first goal was to row with the National team in Princeton, NJ. I was lucky enough to find an environmental engineering job there with a company that was willing to let me work 30 hours/week. I felt really lucky, though many of my teammates weren’t working at all or less than 20 hrs/week, due to the rigors of our training schedule.
• Did you follow this path? What were your jobs after graduation?
I worked in Human Health Risk Assessment (a component of site remediation) for three years, before moving on to my PhD.
• What are you currently involved in?
Helping buildings become more energy efficient
• Are you still involved in the sciences? In what ways? If not, why not?
Very much involved in engineering, but in a consulting capacity. My job requires my technical skills, but also requires good communication and management skills. Some engineers tend to be great at the technical side, and not as comfortable with the other aspects. As you develop in your career, the communication/management skills are equally as important.
• How does your college career impact what you currently do?
It introduced me to engineering!
• What's the most rewarding component of your current work?
My company does not do actual design and installation of energy efficiency work, we’re a level above that with program implementation. I like the fact that we can ‘touch’ so many projects and see buildings get more energy efficient on a large scale. There’s also never a dull moment.
• What do you find less fulfilling?
There’s never a dull moment, when sometimes it would be nice to have a relaxing/predictable week.
• What, if anything, surprised you about your current work?
I’ve learned a lot about energy use and building systems. My company is growing fast (along with our industry), and, despite coming in 3 years ago with little knowledge of these systems, I’ve learned a lot and am now one of our primary technical resources. My job definitely follows the consulting description of becoming “and expert in a lot of things very quickly. I also find it ironic that I finished Dartmouth with a degree in environmental engineering, did my PhD in Civil/Env and am now a licensed Mechanical Engineer in New York. I think I’ve got all the bases covered!
• Where do you expect and hope that this work may take you?
Now that’s a question I’d like to know the answer to also!
• What are your top priorities today? Have these changed from when you first graduated?
Balance is my top priority in my head, but I find that it’s really difficult to take action towards this end. The yoga studio that I opened in 2009 has grown beyond my greatest expectations, and it is difficult to find time for myself between my ‘day job’ and the demands of the studio. I don’t think these have changed that much. I’ve never been one to allow my job to take over my life because there are just too many other things I want to do. However, that long list of things I want to do cuts into the down time that I need, but never give myself.
• What are you most passionate about today?
I get satisfaction out of my job, which uses that technical skills that I’ve been developing over the past 15 years, however I really enjoy the contact that I have with my yoga student and the community via the studio. I’ve been so driven with my own agenda for so long, I haven’t been as aware of others. Since finish the PhD, I’ve been learning how rewarding it is to help others move in the direction of their goals, whether it’s starting a mentoring program at my work or teaching a yoga class that students leave feeling a little lighter and less weighed down by life.
• How have you dealt with balancing work and family - have you had to adjust your schedule or look for a job that is more flexible?
I’ve been extremely lucky in the 2 engineering jobs I’ve had in allowing me to be flexible with my time for training. Now I work full time, and travel once in a while, but it’s not a 60+ hr/wk job, so I have time outside of work for the yoga studio.
• What else do you do outside of your work?
I own said yoga studio, "Mighty Yoga."
• Did you have any mentors that encouraged you or any individuals that discouraged you? If so, please describe the relationship and how it influenced your career path.
Ahh, I had many mentors through mentornet whom I relied on significantly while I was in grad school and trying to decide whether to follow the academic route or not. This is a whole other story in itself that I’m happy to talk about if you’re interested…I realize the lack of mentorship within my company, and need to get out and look for one – but I haven’t done that yet.
• What were the resources you found most valuable in deciding your path and in finding jobs?
Mentors, mentors, and mentors. On-the-job experience is a great learning tool, and remembering that decisions are never final.
• Did you ever doubt your capabilities and/or knowledge in your major/career?
Not until year 2 of the my PhD. My self-confidence took a big hit during that time, which was one of the reasons I opted to move out of academia, at least for the time being.
• How do you/did you overcome those self-doubts?
It wasn’t easy, and I wished I’d realized what was happening sooner. I’m good at appearing like I have everything under control – so good that most of the time I even believe it! But there were currents of self-doubt starting. I wish I had found a mentor or spoken to someone about it sooner. I expect a lot of myself, and I find it difficult to *really* listen when people give me compliments or express admiration of what I’ve done. It’s going to be a lifelong process, but once I can appreciate what I have accomplished, it will be easier to accept that I can’t do everything perfectly.
• If you could change anything about your career path, what would it be and why?
I would have had more mentors and talked to more people about my options/opportunities.
• What advice do you have for current students who may be interested in the sciences?
The support of friends is critical when things are difficult. But it’s important to have someone that you can look up to, and even perhaps see yourself in their shoes someday. It helps you focus on and be excited about the end goal, and not get caught up in the hiccups along the way.
Last Updated: 8/5/11