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Women in Science Project
6201 Parker House
Hanover, NH 03755

Phone: 603-646-3690

Adrienne Parker '93

Allison M. Hargreaves '02, October 23, 2000.

Adrienne Parker was an engineering major at Dartmouth and is now working in Germany for Audi. You will enjoy reading her interesting and informative story of her days and Dartmouth and how she got to where she is now!

How Did You Originally Decide to Major in Engineering?

I thought about majoring in engineering when I was in High School. I did an internship with a Civil Engineering Firm in their drafting department and saw that the engineering field was quite varied and included bridges, buildings and even parking lots. A big part of my decision to come to Dartmouth, and subsequently major in engineering, revolved around a phone call I got, from a current Thayer School Senior. He called me at home, after I had been accepted, and asked if he could help answer any questions about Dartmouth or about Thayer School. He left me his phone number, and I called him back with a list of questions. I was nervous about entering a "hard core" engineering program fearing that I was not capable enough. I also wanted be able to pursue other interests like Volleyball and overseas studies. I asked about the programs and professors, and general course requirements. Once I was Dartmouth, I never really considered any other major.

How Did You Think About a Career While You Were Still an Undergrad?

I was curious about the options available. I attended all of the Career Panels I could, especially those where Women in Management were featured like the one put on my senior year by the Tuck School in the Hanover Inn. I still remember those panels and the stories those women told. I paid attention to the paths they had followed and choices they had made to get where they were. They were my only exposure to Women in Science or in Management in a Science related field.

Did You Seek Out Advice or Mentoring from Others?

Absolutely. My first year advisor, Al Henning, advised me on First-year courses and later helped me talk through my decision to enter an MBA program in France. He advised me to stick with my instinct, and go ahead and try advanced courses if I thought I was ready. Later on he would encourage me to go on Language Study Programs and "not to worry" about missing courses, saying "Everything will work out", and it did.

I worked for Carol Muller, a co-founder of WISP my freshman summer (SEED program) and again the summer after senior year (for the High School Teacher's Conference). Her passion to see women succeed in science instilled in me a belief that I could and would succeed. She consistently listened to and validated my concerns about my decision to major in the sciences. I was lucky to find a caring mentor during one of my internships. I returned to work in his department, although not for him and still consult with him today. It was invaluable to have someone outside my family and outside of Dartmouth. His perspective and enthusiasm for me and my abilities has allowed me to take chances and believe in myself more than I ever would have otherwise.

A series of caring professors including Professor Chris Levey, Professor Charlie Hitchcock, and Doug Fraser, to mention only a few, always had time to assuage my fears, answer my questions, and let me repeat it back [to them] to make sure I had understood.

How Did Your Current Position and Career Plan Evolve?

There is much truth to the phrase "There's no telling what the future holds." After Dartmouth I knew I wanted to work in something that had an international component. My senior year a French consortium of management schools came recruiting at Dartmouth and I applied. After 2 years in France earning my MBA and gaining valuable overseas internship experience, I became an international product manager for an Electrical Equipment Manufacturer here in the United States.

After 2 years I joined a start-up company who was hoping to sell a similar product and was in need of a Marketing and Sales Manager. While I was sad to give up the international aspect of my job, I could not wait to learn all I could in our attempt to bring a new product to market. I am currently working in Germany for an Audi AG in Ingolstadt. They were looking for people with science and management backgrounds who had international experience and were not afraid of new languages. I've been here since January 2000 and so far so good. I work in the Telematics (bringing services like OnStar into the car) department.

Could You Explain the Types of Things You Are Doing in Your Career?

I am currently working in a department that bridges the gap between traditional marketing and technical development. We are engineers who are trying to figure out what the future of the electronics in cars will look like. Do customers want a DVD player in their car? Do they want to surf the web? If so, how can we make that happen and have a solution out on the market in a timely fashion?

Previously, for 2 years, I was an international product manager where I also did a good bit of liaison work between engineering and marketing. What do customers need and how can we get it to them.

Did You Have Important "Decision Points" or "Forks in the Road" Where You Needed to Choose Between Two Important Things?

Several times at Dartmouth I hesitated between following the more traditional engineering curriculum and pursuing my other academic interests. Chance encounters with Dartmouth Seniors and Graduate students exposed me to dozens of different possible paths. They showed me what was possible and with intent, I patterned my Dartmouth career after them.

I have always been interested in education at the High School level, and did not want to turn 40 one day and say "I had French in College but I have lost it." Upon speaking with a graduate student, I learned I could get my teaching certification and also major in engineering. To top that off, I learned I could get certified in two fields, in my case in French and in Physics, after talking with another student who was in the process of earning her double certification.

By talking with a senior woman on my hall learned I could go abroad, not once but twice and still graduate. These programs, in Mexico and France, influenced my career plans. After spending a LSA term in Mexico with Dartmouth, I decided that whatever career I chose, I wanted to speak other languages and eventually live overseas doing it.

The other "fork", if you will, came in 1998, when I decided to join a start-up company, instead of sticking with the larger company (91,000 people worldwide) for which I worked at the time. I reasoned that while the proposition had inherent risks, the potential to learn by "getting my hands dirty" combined with my limited family obligations made this an opportunity too good to pass up.

Most recently I made the move to Germany, to work once again for a large company. I have enjoyed learning the language, experiencing the culture and generally like being back in Europe. Germans seem to be very logical and process-oriented so it has been fairly easy to follow what's happening around me.

How Different Is What You Are Now Doing from What You Envisioned Yourself Doing as a Student in College? What Did You Expect to Happen and What Actually Happened to You?

I did not expect to change jobs as often as I have. I did not expect to lose my job and to job search for 8 months. I did not know how stressful a prolonged job search can be. At the same time, I did not expect to find as much pleasure in the odd jobs and consulting I did while looking and waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

I envisioned joining a large company, earning the right to be sent overseas, and honestly, for things to just take their course without me having to take very much action. I underestimated the value of networking, instead naively hoping that opportunities would just fall from the sky.

I have a new appreciation for my computer skills now that I did some consulting. I never considered myself a whiz, just a fair to good end-user. I completely underestimated how much we learned about computers at Dartmouth, and how much I picked up by marketing and selling an NT Client/Server software product in my first job.

Are You Happy/Satisfied With the Way Things Have Turned Out? Do You See Yourself Exploring Other Career Options and Possibilities?

I do not doubt that in 10 years I will be doing something completely different. Surprisingly my prolonged job search has renewed my confidence that things will all work out. I do think I will teach High School one day.

What Is Your Perception of the Challenges to Women as They Enter Their First Job or Even Their First Pre-professional Internship?

Sorry, but I have nothing to report here. We all have our stories but to me the behavior and circumstances are so particular that I have a difficult time generalizing.

How Important Is It to Be Considering Careers and Trying to Plan Resumes as an Undergraduate?

I think all Dartmouth students are talented enough that whether they plan or not, they will land on their feet. Losing sleep over taking the "right" courses and filling up resumes with the "big name internships" in fields that are not interesting to you is not the only way to go. I am a planner, and had always thought that employers would want to see a clearly thought out college career. In my experience, however, companies have not necessarily cared that I took a certain course or that I got a certain grade, or even that I had an internship in a certain field. When I interview, Companies care why I made the choices I did and ask what I learned from the experiences.

For those who know what they would like to do after college, there is an upside to planning. Asking advice from someone in the field you want to enter, taking specific courses and finding interesting internships in the field will allow you to jump into a designated career that much sooner.

What Advice Would You Give to Women in the Engineering Program at Dartmouth as They Begin to Think About Career paths?

Talk to seniors, graduate students and professors to find out what opportunities there are. Find out early about the after Dartmouth scholarship programs and grants and how to qualify and apply. Ask about exchange programs and off campus programs early. I found out too late about an exchange program to Stanford with an internship in Japan and missed out.

Do not hesitate to ask questions and take your professors' time. Find friends with whom you can study and from whom you can learn. Attend all problem sessions led by a T.A. or otherwise. Maybe a new voice will explain a tough concept in a way that makes even more sense to you. Seek out the Thayer School Staff. They care and are an invaluable resource. Give your all when working on projects and presentations for classes. Sign up for classes with projects (Engs 21, 195/296 and others). I found that while I did not do well in many traditional engineering courses, I gained confidence and felt VERY valuable to my project teams.

Finally, I Just Wanted to Ask If You Would Permit Interested Students to Contact You If They Had Any Further Questions?

Sure! Here is my e-mail:

Last Updated: 8/6/12