Sunday, March 12, 2017

How Two Days On Wall Street Transformed My Career

The Female Engineer Version


I read this cool article called “How Two Days on Wall Street Transformed My Career” from this guy who worked all his life to get to Wall Street.. He got there and was unnerved by the money hungry environment. I thought it’d be cool to do a parallel article on how my two days on Wall Street transformed my career. This guy that made it to Wall Street and later quit, ended up coming over to the dark side AKA the technology industry… Engineer nerds like to have fun and everyone is starting to find out our secret.


Earlier in January, I was invited to interview for a really big company on Wall St. in one of their investment teams (As I’m still in the job-seeking process I won’t share the exact company). My past internship experience includes: ocean engineering, health industry, sneaker designing, aerospace engineering, and manufacturing. Finance isn’t the chronological option after an engineering degree but, it is still a viable choice. An engineer on Wall St is just as beneficial as an engineer at Dell or Microsoft, they are: creating solutions, analyzing, solving, and innovating! However, Wall Street is definitely unlike any working environment that I’ve ever experienced which is why it transformed my view on prospective career choices.  

Define Objectives

When the guy in the original Wall Street article quit after 48 hours, he called on mentors, friends and family to help him get back on a defined career path and with specific objectives. He basically had to figure out what he wanted. Ask any college millennial what do we want and the majority of us have no idea… Like ask me what my 5 year plan is?? I have no idea! To the guy who quit Wall St and made an expedient decision to head to the technology industry, I give you kudos because as you can see from my very diverse resume… I’m not quite sure what I want either. This is exactly why I became an engineer because all I need to do is equip myself with a set of valuable skills and then go out and find a project or mission that I’d like to devote myself to.

For the people who have trouble defining their “professional objectives”, try pointing your career towards your passions. Honestly, working on something you love is bound to be a rewarding experience. Yes, it’s 2017 and we are all about getting this money or what not but a lot of those incentives are short term. We want quality over quantity. I prefer long term happiness.

Make The Leap

I’m not talking about making the leap from the Engineering College to the Business College. I’m (ehmm.. all women engineers..) are here to stay! I’m talking about making the leap towards what you are actually interested in. Don’t let someone or anything else hold you down into a space you aren’t comfortable in. For example, I was sitting in engineering classes for 2 years and kept going to hackathons(tech competitions) because this bizarre world of “programming” was intriguing to me. I didn’t want to change my major or try a random coding class because it just didn’t seem to fit the same engineering path that everyone else was on. I finally rose to the challenge and took a coding class as an elective for my engineering major. My first coding class went great and I turned around and made it a minor 3 coding classes later.


Rise to the Challenge

Throughout my engineering and coding classes I fail numerous times. Even at my internships, I could tell you about so many failures. I would get a bad grade or design something completely infeasible. I made sure to build a strong support circle so that I wouldn’t quit after second guessing myself after every failure. Talking to other women engineers at networking events and to other classmates, I begin to see that our successes are built off of the many failures that we overcome. That must mean that I have a lot of failures to endure because I’m still building my engineering/computer science foundation. Continue to fight for that strong foundation of failures that are rewarded with great successes!

Endure the Crucible

Each year of engineering college gets harder and harder and rumor has it that once you get into the industry, you must continue to grow and learn. Again overcome the hardships is rewarding. You gain these new levels of confidence after each challenge. For example, all Junior Year mechanical engineers have this confidence about them, in their studies, because we’ve all passed Calculus 1, 2, 3.. Differential Equations, etc. Yes it was hard and gruesome but, endure it. If you can endure the first 5 seasons of Game of Thrones or not having access to Season 7 of Shameless, then you can endure the pressure to perform.

Achieve Mastery

As a women in engineering, the imposter syndrome in me wants to say that I have not achieved any mastery at all. But that is wrong. After 3 years of internships, co-ops, and classes, I have achieved mastery. In the sense that, like the Wall St guy, I have earned the right to pause, recognize, and reflect. As a underclassmen engineering student, I did not have that right. I went from a lost and inexperienced engineering student to a passionate experienced engineer undergraduate and women engineer advocate. That was a dramatic transformation.

Next Play or Your Next Move

No one is ever at a halt. You will have a Next Play. Continue to seek out opportunities that will lead you to your next opportunity. My Next Play will be at the National Society of Black Engineer’s National Convention as a workshop speaker. This will be a challenging endeavor but, I’m excited to see how I come out in the end.  

I hope this personal transformation framework borrowed from that Wall St guy’s article will allow you to think through your own transformation stories.

Grammarly yours, SemirahD


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