CBliss asked Marnie Smith, LivaNova

AddedSaturday, December 1, 2018 at 7:24 PM

What advice would you give someone who always loved math/inventing but was discouraged against it for being a girl so got a BA instead of a BS, and now wants to go back to school for engineering?

The BA is in nothing related to engineering and I am only 3 years out of college and have already excelled in my field, but am bored out of my skull. I work at a job counseling people and then I come home and tinker and build things out of whatever I have lying around the house. I want a job that would let me design, build, and invent things for solutions to public health issues, but I am so paralyzed with fear that I have already ruined my life with that horrible decision to get a BA instead of following my dreams. Am I a lost cause?
Related to Construction, Machines, Mechanical, Medicine, Merging Fields, Self Doubt, Special fields and Interdisciplinary, Unique Challenges
  • Marnie Smith , LivaNova
    Answered Friday, December 7, 2018 at 2:22 PM
    You are not a lost cause!
    First, I want to say that I'm sorry that you were given such poor feedback and support that ultimately discouraged you from pursuing Engineering. This day and age, that is really unfair! Your journey does not have to end here. 
    You have not ruined your life. In professional society, we put so much pressure on being successful and approaching a peak in our 20s and 30s that we consistently forget that we still have our 40s, 50s, and 60s (plus sometimes 70s and 80s!) to go through prior to retirement. Your life is still in front of you! I encourage you to view this as a life lesson you have learned. You can easily re-frame this situation as realizing how much you truly wanted to be an engineer and how you learned to battle self-doubt. That is a great soft skill you will need to have, no matter the role. And now is a great time to have identified that you're not happy versus years later. So good for you for knowing yourself well enough that you are identifying this now!
    I think it's great that you want to consider going back to school and I think you should do it. You now have the added benefit of knowing that you are truly passionate and have the maturity to understand that there will be more work involved. It is not unheard of to go back to school for an Engineering degree in your 20s, I don't think you will be alone in this. And hopefully you can find a program that will allow for your BA degree to count as part of the electives you have to take for Engineering anyway. If you go this route, I strongly encourage you to pursue engineering internships along the way to flesh out the academics. Life as an engineer is much different than what learning to be an engineer is like.
    Another angle to consider is trying to find a new job in your current field but for a company that employs engineers as well. This would allow you to get closer to observing what an engineering does for a job (vs academics) and could potentially open up a company's educations reimbursement program for you. For example, you mentioned that you work in a job "counseling people", could you make this a transition into an HR role at an established company? You could also try a bottoms up approach....look for technician, administrative, assembler, etc kind of work that would like you get hands on experience and meet engineers along the way, this would be if you are definitely willing to abandon your background. 
    I don't have the answers for you but I can absolutely assure you that you have not ruined our life. I will share with you that the self-doubt piece will continue to bubble up in your life regardless of what career path you pursue. Having a handle of recognizing it when it happens and re-framing the situation will help you out. 
    Best of luck to you! You can do it!