Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It
I have had the pleasure to have multiple opportunities in my early career. While in undergrad at Auburn University, I started a co-op with a Paper Company in Brewton, AL. This was a blessing for my development as a young, up and coming engineer. With that company’s amount of capital funds, I was afforded the opportunity to work on projects that most companies would consider large scale. There was enough challenge for me just starting out, and I was given the authority to make decisions within reason, which did wonders for my growth. From that experience, I decided I wanted to remain a Project Engineer.
As I stated earlier, this was a blessing but, in the end, it was a hindrance. After completing my undergraduate degree, I was hired on by the company I co-op’d for under the title Project Engineer. I owned slightly larger projects, but it almost became routine. I became good at my job, but I needed a little more of a challenge. However, I was only afforded the opportunity to participate in the huge scale projects. Which was still a learning experience, but I needed more.
Fast forward about 2 years later, I was planning to propose to my girlfriend at the time, and she had already accepted a position in Atlanta, knowing there would be nothing for her in Brewton. So, I began my search to secure a job at the Paper Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, but it never worked out. I did end up landing a job with another paper-based company in Atlanta. I was doing Process Engineering with a little project work. I knew I liked Project Engineering, so I figured why not try something else. The job was challenging because I was learning a new company, process, and role. However, the role I was hired for, I rarely spent time doing. The company was very lean, and I ended up subbing in for multiple roles at last minute request. From Quality, to Sales, to even Procurement at times. Which became very frustrating. I did enjoy the process side of the job, but my passion was still Project Engineering, and I feared I’d lose my skills if I remained in this game of roles.
So, once again, I was back on the job search. My previous role was also developmental in the fact that I got a slight pay raise, a slight increase in responsibility with capital investment, (which is what I wanted) and it opened me up to travel roles. I was on the road about 50% of the time, which was ok since my fiancée traveled too, which could be a major issue for some. All these things along with acquiring my Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) set me up for my current dream role.
I now have moved back to my previous company in a different division but a much larger role, and paycheck. I am a Divisional Project Engineer and I manage larger projects for multiple sites, so I get to travel to different places and learn different process while utilizing my expertise. I often interface with the VPs of the different businesses and discuss future plans and projects. This is extremely beneficial for my development as a leader. At this current time my pay is extremely competitive, I am thoroughly challenged, and I feel I am contributing to the company. Not to say that everyday is smooth sailing because, it isn’t. Growth comes from being uncomfortable and as long as your passion is strong you will be drawn to the position uniquely for you. I could stay in this role for 5 years with no complaints!
Divisional Project Engineer