academic goals /

How My Professional Engineering License Saved My Career (After a Few Years as a Stay-at-home Mom)

Professional Engineer. It has a ring to it, doesn’t it? That “PE” after my name would look great. And sure, it would look good on my resume and it would surely impress people, but why go after a license that in all likelihood I’d probably never use?

About five years after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I decided to try for my professional engineering license. The chemical company I worked for didn’t require it, most commercial companies don’t, but it was something that seemed to be the right thing to do. A couple of co-workers and I headed to a local community college for a six-week review course held a couple of nights a week in the spring. The professional engineering test is given twice a year. I made plans to test in the fall.

Forget Resolutions– How to Formulate a New Year’s *Vision* for the Future

What’s your vision for 2013?

No, that’s not a typo– I didn’t mean 2012. I mean 2013. Where or what will be true of your life in less than 12 months from now when the flip of the calendar goes from 2012 to 2013?

Barely into the New Year, 2012 resolutions are new and hopefully not yet broken. At the beginning of the year, we look ahead, make plans, but primarily our focus is on the footsteps in front of us.

Instead, I envision 2013. Clear in my head, it’s a picture of the end result of a work in process.

My Life Mentors and the Lessons They’ve Taught Me

I think we’ve all learned the importance of mentors to help guide us through our schooling or career. But, this is about a different type of mentor – the life mentor.

My Mentors - Photo Credit: Mr. Sarah

My life mentors originally came to me as part of a faith-based group. However, over 15 years of regular meeting, we’ve bonded into something much deeper. The women in the group have become my life coaches. They are the ones who hold me accountable for the things I need to take care of in my in my internal life. They make sure I follow through with family and other important relationships, and help me see parts of my character that might use a little refining. And, I do the same for them. We represent a wide range of ages, family/marital status and professional backgrounds, so the perspectives are widely varied, adding to the richness of our relationship.

Majoring In Science Is Hard– That’s Why It’s Worth It For Those Who Succeed

The New York Times recently published an article, “Why Science Majors Change Their Mind,” attempting to understand why so many students drop out of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) major in college. Quoting from the article:

Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

A Mentor Who Believes In You Can Mean Everything

My memories of my primary years in school can be summed up as stressful.  I have a  Fall birthday, so every year I was one of the youngest in my class.  I had a couple other challenges.  My mother suffered from a bi-polar disorder and my brother, who is ten years older, had a drug/alcohol addiction which escalated as he moved from middle school to his early twenties.  My father was the pillar of the family, but it was a lot of chaos to manage.

Build Discipline: How to Get Back On the Horse Once You’ve Fallen Off

I have to go to spin tomorrow morning, which begins at 6:15am. I have to be there by 5:50am, or else the class fills up. I know it’s good for me, and in the past, I’ve always felt great after I’ve done it. But right now, I really do not want to go.

Discipline is a difficult thing to truly master. Some people are naturally disciplined, which to me means that they can more easily make themselves do things they don’t want to do. I think I’m pretty good at being disciplined, but then I face tasks like spin class tomorrow morning, or my resolve to write regularly. It’s easy to be disciplined for a while, it’s hard to be disciplined all the time.

Bragging Is an Art: No One Knows How Great You Are Until You Tell Them

Question: why don’t women brag more? I’m not saying women don’t brag, or that men do brag, but I am asking why women don’t brag more.

I talked to three different women today who weren’t sure what to write about for this publication. (Yes, I realize I talk about enableher. a lot, but what can I say– it’s given me a lot to write about.) And all three of them had trouble because they were trying to start at the beginning. They wondered how to write on how they began their career, or how they remember their first classes, or they were at a loss as to what point they should even begin.

6 Tips on How to Start Writing, Write Better, and Write More Often

Writing is not easy. In fact, I would argue that it’s sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do, and this is exactly which is why it’s my personal belief that everyone needs to do it. A lot.

Writing is difficult because it can be intimidating. The term “good writer” is elusive even to those who have been writing all their lives because writing is not an accomplishment or a pretty snapshot– it’s a constant flow of words that begins when you first learn to spell and ends when you die.

The State of the Woman in the Workplace in 2011: It Could Be Better

Last night, I attended a talk in San Francisco’s pariSoma building in SOMA given by Nita Singh Kaushal, Founder of Miss CEO. My intentions were to pick up some tips, likely ones that I’d heard before, meet other women, and see if there were any interested writers for enableher.

As we sat through introductions and Nita began with statistics on the state of women in the workplace from this year, 2011, I began to feel I was going to get more out of this than I originally thought. The numbers flashed on screen: “women are making an average of 77.5 cents for every dollar a man makes,” “female CEOs are receiving compensation packages that were 85% the size of male CEOs, controlling for company size and other variables,” “40% of women are primary household breadwinners.”

Get Out There, Make Mistakes, and Move On

In my last post, I talked about how much Terry Gross inspires me not only because she herself has achieved so much, but because she reminded me that almost everyone, no matter how accomplished they are, started in a place less glamorous, less impressive, and less experienced. A simple truth, but a comforting one.

But what happens once you really start gaining traction? Whether you’re progressing in your career and gaining more responsibilities, or an opportunity comes along and you’re asked to show your skills in front of a large audience– the higher up you go, the further you have to fall. This too, can be a scary prospect.


Jessica Chan
Jessica Chan
enableher. Editor
Tamara Leigh
Tamara Leigh
World Traveler
Sarah Clatterbuck
Sarah Clatterbuck
Cycling-crazed Techie
Conni Eckstein
Conni Eckstein
Senior Engineer
Sheryl Cardiff, M.A., NASM, FCMT
Sheryl Cardiff, M.A., NASM, FCMT
Mental Skills Trainer, Mental Training Inc.