In one week, I will embark on my next career adventure. I have accepted a position that, in all honesty, I was not sure if I would ever attain – that of a bona-fide Specifier.
My career in AEC has included a year working for a GC, 23 years at an architectural firm and 5 years at an MEP Engineering firm. Next week I return to the architectural side of the fence. To say that I am excited would be an understatement.
When I was really young and starry eyed, I wanted to be a torch singer. I wanted to sing bluesy, jazzy and soulful kind of tunes. I was gently told, at a very young age, that if you sound like a sick cat when you sing it is not likely you are going to attain greatness. Dream one, down the toilet.
As a teenager, I decided that I was going to be a writer. I wanted to travel the world and write human interest stories for Time or Life magazine and spend my time on one new adventure after another. I wanted to go to college but funding was an issue so I got a job instead. Hence, my first job in AEC at 17 years old.
I worked at the GC for a year, hopped around a few waitress, hostess and retail jobs and then landed a job as a receptionist at a local architectural firm. I was 20 years old. There is no way I would have believed you if you told me, almost 30 years later, I would still be working in this field. That was just a landing point while I figured out what I was going to be when I grew up. Turns out, I was going to be a Specifier. Not only was I going to be a Specifier, but I was going to like it and be passionate about it.
Time for reflection typically accompanies any big life change and I have had more than my share in the last year. Dang, I have been reflecting like a mirror.
How did I get here? Who helped me get here? Is here where I want to be? What’s next? The whirlwind of thoughts that accompany change can sometimes be overwhelming.
As the voices in my head go wild, a quiet inner part of me speaks the loudest. This inner voice is sometimes able to distill my crazy voices down to simple facts which are typically the most relevant.
How did I get here?
- I got here because I worked my ass off, trained in the trenches, wasn’t afraid to ask questions, always wanted to learn, tried to stay positive, be easy to work with and tried to grow every day. I almost never let fear stop me from going after the next brass ring or learning opportunity. I let myself discover a passion for a business that was NEVER on my radar.
Is here where I want to be?
- You betcha! I have worked 30 years for this. To finally feel like I have ‘made it’ is incredible.
- That one is easy. Total world domination!
Who helped me get here?
I got here because amazing people believed in me, sometimes when I didn’t believe in myself. They supported me, taught me, guided me, gave me reality checks and mentored me so that I got it right. This has been the single biggest factor in my professional and personal development.
- My mom’s friend who got a rather rebel 17 year old her first job at the construction company.
- The three Partners at my old firm who took me from receptionist to jack-of-all-trades in architecture. They didn’t see my age or gender. They only saw my passion and willingness to learn. They taught me, guided me and then left me alone to see what I could do.
- My current firm that let me come into a new discipline and do all kinds of things you don’t see any other MEP firm doing and my mentor Jon, who always had unending faith in my abilities and supported them every step of the way.
- My CSI family that has upended my professional world in the last four years and has truly been my biggest cheerleaders. I have stepped out of my box in ways that I never imagined because of their support. From getting cornered in a class and asked to run for my first leadership position to amazing encouragement from a couple of special people to embark on my very speaking gig and everything in between, my CSI family has supported me – these people have blown my mind. People like this exist in this world? I am so thankful for them.
- My soon to be new firm who seem to like my ‘Go Big or Go Home’ approach and embrace it and the two lovely men with whom I will be working side-by-side who see past the bullet points to the (somewhat silly) person underneath and still want to work with me anyway. Funny how they are also part of my CSI Family.
- My incredible family and friends who are never anything but positive and supportive. The best words I have ever heard were “I am so proud of you Mom.”
So the question is what is the real point of this blog?
The point is that what you do every day makes a difference. How you interact and share with all of those around you, especially young professionals, makes a difference. A big difference. Sometimes a life changing difference. This is so important and so vital in our ever changing environment in AEC that I want to scream it from the rooftops.
My life is enriched and changed because of the people who believed in me, guided me and took the time (and patience) to teach me. I would absolutely never have made it here without them.
How do you appropriately thank someone for that? I certainly struggle finding the words that reflect how I truly feel. They all come out sounding so hollow.
I can thank them by giving back. I can thank them by being that person to someone else that they were (and still are) to me. I can pay it forward and I am.
You can do the same. Take a minute and look around you. Are you so busy that you don’t notice the person right next to you that may benefit from your guidance and expertise? Are you going to go down in obscurity or are you going to make a difference? What is your impact? Your legacy?
Have you CHANGED someone’s life? Where would I be if not for the people who changed mine!
My wish? That someone writes a blog like this about you someday. Be the change!