Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-19-2022 05:50 PM

    Hey wonderful people! How do you manage your time effectively? If you could look back on things what would you do differently? 

    I have a 11 month old baby and Id love to hear from other moms who made Engineering work. What would you have done differently from schooling to career choices if you had another go? Any part time career paths for moms?

    thank you 🙏 😊 thank you. 



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    Samantha Strauss S.M.ASCE
    Wendell MA
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  • 2.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-23-2022 01:58 PM
    Excellent question, Samantha.
    I lack the mom credential but can answer from a dad's perspective. If I had it to do over again, I'd resist more of the travel demands and spend more time with our children. I had the opportunity to spend more daylight time at home with our two youngest children and was astonished and saddened by how much I missed of the older two's childhood development. I also learned that I could get a lot done working just half-time by avoiding some of the office rituals, like breakroom gabfests and less-than-useful meetings. There are tradeoffs in that, but I happily accepted them once the psychic benefits became obvious.
    Telework has opened up wonderful new opportunities for everyone. Time-management becomes a crucial aspect when working from home, including letting non-infant family members know that interruptions should be minimized.
    On time management, checking email/workspace chats was a huge time sink for me at first. Checking them only at the start of the workday and at midday kept me informed sufficiently and putting new items into an existing priority queue worked best. Learning to say, "No," to new assignments was essential but really hard because new challenges looked like so much fun.
    I'm eager to hear what others say on this question.
    Bill

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    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
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  • 3.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-25-2022 11:45 AM
    Hi Samantha,
    Thanks for your candid sharing.

    First, if I may, do not lose the valuable time you have now going 
    forward by thinking "If I had it to do over again,."

    Fact is, you have no end of potential opportunities for balancing career and home-time with family today and beyond.

    Some moms deliberately simply stopped their work and truly stayed home until their children started school.

    And as Bill notes above, it seems the opportunities going forward are only limited by our preferences and initiatives.

    Stay Healthy!
    Cheers,
    Bill

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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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  • 4.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-26-2022 09:51 AM

    Samantha,

     

    I think your question is very important and I'm glad you are thinking about it now while your daughter is 11 months old and not when she is much older when it is too late to turn back the clock. I am a municipal engineer who has worked in the Engineering Consulting environment since 2005. I was lucky to live in Australia when my babies were born, where the culture is different; most of my female engineering colleagues took a full year off work and then only returned 2 - 3 days per week for the following year(s). We are not there yet in the USA, but we are definitely making inroads for new mothers and fathers to make different work-life balance choices. I have been working 32 hours per week from my home office since I moved to the USA in 2016. I had to negotiate the part-time arrangement with my employer and was the only one on my team in a part-time role. Now there are 2 other new mothers in my team making similar choices. My son is now 13 and my daughter is 9 and they still need a lot of my time and support! At this point, I still work 4 days a week, predominantly from home because I need to be there for all the after school activities, etc.

     

    That being said, I certainly won't tell you there aren't trade-offs; there always will be in life. I can see other men and women who have not taken time off for childcare who are more advanced in their career than me, and I have certainly missed out on some training and leadership opportunities over the years. It has to be that way; as much as our society strives for it, it is impossible to "have it all".  But I wouldn't trade any of the time I've had with my kids during their formative years. They will be off to College soon and I'll still have LOTS of years left to focus on my career. As long as you can keep your skills up to date and provide meaningful effort for your employer, and stay engaged in interesting work, I can't imagine anything better than the flexibility to be there for your daughter. And I think this is the time to do it! There is a shortage of Engineers in the industry at this time; my experience has been that if you have good credentials and demonstrate that you are proficient and effective working remotely, employers will make concessions to keep you on their team. Good luck with it all. Enjoy the rideJ

     

     

     


    Rebecca A. Minas, MIEAust, CPEng
    Project Manager
    Sustainable Planning & Design

    Barton
    &Loguidice

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  • 5.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-26-2022 10:09 AM
    Hi Samantha,

    I would highly recommend joining the Facebook groups 'Engineering Working Moms' and 'Society of Women Engineers - SWE Group'.  Both groups are continuously  discussing issues regarding being a mom and an engineer and how to make it work for you and your family during the different seasons of life.

    Personally my son is a teenager now but I had years out of engineering when he was young and then I came back into engineering when he was 10 years old.  I also have been working 75% time since coming back into engineering to allow for a better work/family balance since my husband travels a lot with his job so I needed/wanted to be home when my son gets home from school.

    Come join our engineering working moms group!
    Alayna

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    Alayna Nordstrom P.E., M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Strickland Engineering, LC
    Jackson MO
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  • 6.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-26-2022 10:44 AM
    Hey Samantha. Your question is so important (not just to you personally but to the industry as a whole) and something a lot of other moms have faced. I find that each mom approaches it differently based on what works for their family but I'm happy to share some things that work for me.  For reference, I'm a full-time consulting engineer in the US, managing projects and people, in charge of business development activities and project deliveries.  The company I work for is rapidly expanding and I've been a part of that entire growth so it's been a wild ride.  I also travel at least once a week for work but sometimes I'm gone for 3-5 days in a row.

    To effectively manage my time I keep my child on a schedule, send them to daycare full time, and use a personal and family calendar to schedule basically everything (including house cleaning).  I wake before my child does and go to bed after they do to get things done. I find routines are good not just for child development but also for you to better manage time and know what to expect.  When I'm at work I am 100% at work (barring any emergencies) and  when I'm at home I am 100% focused on my family (also barring legitimate emergencies - somebody's failure to plan does not constitute an emergency for me).  For work I have open, honest conversations with my employer and have very strict boundaries that are in place. My partner is also very involved with our child and I leave him to take care of our child when I need to travel for work, etc.  We also split the housework.  However, most of the mental and emotional work load is still on me. I make this easier on me by setting and communicating deadlines and placing them on the family calendar (such as "Buy MIL Christmas present") and assigning them to my spouse. I also make sure to schedule "me" time where I'm alone and have no responsibilities.  It is important that you rest and recharge.

    One of my best friends has an 11 month old and she's also a full-time working mom.  She does not travel as much as I do and her partner is not very involved in the house or the child rearing.  It works for them but she's had to cut back a lot at work and I can tell she is very tired.

    My sister (5 year old and 18 month old) is a full-time working mom now but she took 3 years off to care for her oldest child.  She is not progressing in her career quickly and does not seek a lot of advancement opportunities currently.  She did not have a hard time re-entering her career after her break but she was already a licensed PE which may have helped.

    Another friend quit working completely when she was pregnant with her 2nd child and has no plans to re-enter the engineering field.  She currently has 4 children and loves being a SAHM.

    Another friend works 24 hours a week (11 year old, 9 year old, 3 year old).  She's always worked 20-30 hours a week since her first was born and took 3 years off when her last child was born.  She just recently re-entered the workforce at 24 hours a week with the same company she worked for before she left.  She is not a licensed PE but she works in environmental permitting which is a little different than design from my experience. The thing I can tell you from watching her is to ensure that you are very open and communicative with your employer, set and enforce boundaries, and don't be afraid to move jobs if your employer does not respect your boundaries (she had to do that as she was working 45+ hours a week but only supposed to be working 28 with one of her previous employers).

    I would not have made any different choices if I had another go; however, I did choose to change companies about a year before getting pregnant because the company I previously worked for did not respect personal time and I would have never had children if I was still working there. My career is important to me and my partner and I had multiple very open discussions on what sacrifices we were each willing to make, what tradeoffs we were willing to allow, etc before having children.

    I think you've gotten some great advice and hopefully some of it will help you find what works best for your family. Please feel free to reach out if you'd like to talk!

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    Jennifer Sloan Ziegler Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Ridgeland MS
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  • 7.  RE: If I knew then what I know now…

    Posted 09-29-2022 05:21 PM

    Samantha, to a creative mind – the thread title can invoke many different lines of thinking:


    If I knew better or different . . .

    If I had someone on my back . . .

    If I had been loved and cared for . . .

    If people around me behaved differently . . .

    If I had been informed differently or were able to see things through my own lens . . .

    If my personal assessments would not have emotional overtone . . .

    If I had done differently . . .

    If mutual respect would have been the norm . . .

    So on – and so forth . . .

    • The reality is that such ifs – and the consequences of making decisions based on them – in one way or another – define life. The interdependent flux of life in time, and in the space where one lives – the spacetime – defines the progress. When we are able to ask ifs – we begin to learn – but sometimes learning at the huge cost of making mistakes (when such mistakes are made by seats of power – the entire dependent population suffers). Eventually though – they help us minimizing ifs.

    • I always get fascinated by reading ancient wisdom and teachings – they are real and authentic – not contaminated by greeds of modern-day hustle-bustle – that have been invented by un-heedful theories and what not – that are more often than not incompatible with Natural laws and harmony.

    • Ancient wisdom tells us to remain calm – and be conscientious, heedful and diligent before we embark on making decisions – by making all efforts to lead our own life, not someone else's. Perhaps – many of us know this, but more often than not we fail to practice it. Therefore – ifs begin to appear.

    • Appear somewhat hard stuff? But important, nonetheless – wouldn't you say? Thought of sharing them to add to other responses to your queries.

      I like your using an Emoji – the universal symbol of humility and peaceful greeting. I have seen it for the first time in Collaborate ASCE.

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      Dr. Dilip K Barua, PhD

      Website

      Google Scholar