Attendees of the panel hosted by the Brigham Young University Weidman Center learned how to navigate their own path to success on March 10. Having babies, tech startups and internships were just a few of the events on the unique career paths that led each of the event panelists to their current success.
The panelists included Jonathan Oliver, founder and CEO of SmartyStreets, Mary Savage, lead engineer for the Energy Management System department at Tacoma Power in Tacoma Washington and Dr. Amy Wood, BYU Mechanical Engineering adjunct professor. Associate professor of mechanical engineering Dr. Julie Crockett moderated the meeting.
Though all are currently at different levels of education, each of these panelists spent time at BYU and shared important lessons learned during that time with their virtual audience.
“Something that really helped me was having a really strong study group. I had my two or three people and I feel like that social interaction and also that support helped me to avoid getting so overwhelmed, which I think can lead to burning out,” Wood shared. “Make time to do those other things because it’s really important to develop your whole self. Right now we’re so focused on engineering and our careers but we also have to be a human being and` making time for that is really important.”
Other advice included only watching half of a t.v. show to avoid getting sucked in, and taking at least one fun class each semester in order to avoid burnout.
Whether for business pursuits or starting a family they noted that in stepping away from the academic world there’s still a lot of opportunity to learn, and emphasized those skills are just as important.
“You learn soft skills, dealing with other people, intrinsic motivation, a lot of those things go really far in the work world,” Savage shared. “I came into my job and one thing everybody noticed is I didn’t need to get told what to do...when you’re at home you’re used to picking up other people's socks because they need to be picked up—you get used to doing things because they need to get done, not because someone asked you to. There’s a lot of these other things that you develop away from the working world which can bring a lot of value to your career.”
These soft skills are the main thing that Oliver said he looks for in potential employees.
With 11 children between them, professional careers, and in Oliver's case a side hustle as a performer with Improv Broadway, their paths have been anything but predictable. They all emphasized the importance of being open to every opportunity that comes your way.
“You can be happy and successful in a lot of different areas, you don’t have to decide right now. You don’t have to have that clarity, just take the opportunities that come and maybe they’ll be a perfect fit and you’ll be happy forever, maybe in a couple years you’ll swerve and do something else instead,” Savage said.
“Having that flexibility in your life is going to serve you well; not just in your career but in life in general.”
Photo by BYU Photo.