adventures in systems engineering


MAKERSxMailchimp & Lessons on Love/Engineering

Earlier this month, I was invited to attend MAKERSxMailchimp, a presentation and dinner hosted by Mailchimp in honor of the MAKERS conference in CA. Prior to this invitation, I hadn’t heard of this conference. So what is it?

“The 2019 MAKERS Conference is a global women’s leadership event that brings together the most powerful names in business, entertainment, tech, and finance to explore ways to accelerate the movement with compelling videos, provocative conversations, and onstage pledges for change.“

From the MAKERS website.

In the spirit of feminism, hosts for the dinner invited both Mailchimp employees and important women (and male allies) in the Atlanta community for an evening of thoughtful discussion and delicious food.

Holley Murchison of Oratory Glory gave a beautiful and thought-provoking presentation on her Eight Lessons of Love. I won’t expound on everything, but three of the lessons really spoke to me. They’re ideas I keep coming back to, both in my personal life in the last year, and professionally.

FInd your jam(s). To Holley, these are the things you would die for, but instead live to do. This embodies my journey to engineering. As a highly empathetic person, I find a lot of satisfaction in helping others. It’s why I gravitated to customer service before college. And as an ops engineer, I get to reduce toil and make improvements for internal customers. Yes!

I also have a thirst for knowledge and continual growth. Whether I’m learning a new craft (I just started falling in love with embroidery), reading some non-fiction or technical books, watching how-tos, or attending conferences on topics that excite me (looking at you, Monitorama), engaging my brain is such a big cornerstone of my happiness. Engineering has constantly evolving principles and methodologies, new tools and services to understand, and opportunities to teach and educate other engineers.

My jams drive my passion for engineering.

Allow your story to change. From the day we’re born, people try to tell us what are narratives are – daughter, sister, “not a normal child”, too emotional, loner, college graduate, graphic designer, victim, survivor, etc. If we’re not careful, we let these narratives define us and dictate the choices we make in our lives. This keeps us small.

But we have power over our story. We can shed those narratives when they no longer fit or serve us, and replace them with ones that lift us up and reflect who we are/want to be. How does engineering tie in here? I don’t let the “junior” in my title prevent me from speaking up and adding value to technical decisions. I don’t let it stop me from mentoring other women interested in engineering. I don’t let it dictate the first impression I leave with other engineers or customers.

I’ve outgrown that title and narrative, and I don’t let it limit my potential or my contributions.

Begin again. Don’t be afraid to start over. It’s cheesy, but we start each new day with the opportunity to make better decisions, to choose another path, to try something else, to be the best version of ourselves. Engineering was not my first career. I spent 7 years becoming increasingly unhappy as a graphic designer. My passion disappeared and I faced burnout. I had no idea what was next. I took a chance on tech support, and stumbled my way into systems engineering. I’m thankful for the journey, and proud of myself for embracing the unknown.

Beginning again helped me discover a profession and a career path that I love.

I highly recommend checking out the work that Holley is doing, and getting your hands on a copy of her book Tell Me About Yourself. I also want to thank Mailchimp for holding this inaugural dinner. For me, it reinforced my commitment to make one of my passions – engineering – a safe place for women and underrepresented folks.

What are your jams? What stories have you discarded in your career?

Hi! I'm a systems engineer for a global marketing platform. Here I dish about (mostly technical) books I'm reading, my musings on the ever-important soft skills/glue work in this field, and my general adventures in engineering.


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