How the PE Got the Job

My last post discussed my path to getting the PE license. How did I do? On a wintry day in February 1986, I received a formal letter announcing my passage into the professional engineering realm. I was a card carrying, embosser-laden , professional engineer, ready to stamp my heart out.

One thing though, the companies I worked for had no need for a PE license. In the 25 years since, I’ve used my stamp twice. So all that work for nothing? Not hardly.

You see, as life throws us twists and turns, one of those twists was a divorce from the husband who toted my box of books for me to the exam. This was a few years after that test, but I suddenly found myself single, a parent to two very young boys, and needing to get a job. I’d been out of the work force a year or so, working the family business that was now his.

The wonderful family court in SC also threw in their own twist: I had to reside within 250 miles of our town. Out came the compass on a map. Huntsville, Alabama, landed just inside of the radius. I’d remembered hearing about Huntsville and its abundance of engineering companies and jobs when I graduated from OU. None of the employers recruited in Oklahoma, though, so it never entered my radar of employment possibilities. Until now.

I moved with my kids to Huntsville, with a resume in hand and a new life on the horizon. Dozens of companies have branches located in or are based in Huntsville. Home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the birthplace of space exploration, a plethora of opportunities awaited. Or so I thought.

This was 1990 and still no Internet or email. I hit the classifieds and mailed or dropped off my resume. Everywhere. The whole concept of job-hunting was morphing: no longer could I talk to a hiring manager. The receptionist trapped job seekers at the door and no passage forward was granted.

A few weeks passed and still I had no nibbles on a job. Finally I hit the phone book and called consulting firms as a last resort. Bingo! A kind engineer told me he had heard a firm was currently hiring engineers. I made a call; I visited the firm.

They had just earned a contract with a chemical company located about thirty miles from Huntsville. My past experience clicked with them, but the real clincher was my PE license.  I never used the PE stamp during my short time with that company, but it was important to engineering consulting firms to pack their house with licensed engineers.

I had a job! My career restarted. Possessing a PE license does look good on my resume, but more importantly, it speaks volumes to prospective employers that I worked to earn that extra credit. Would I sacrifice again to earn that PE license? I would do it all over again in a New York minute.


About stemzandroses

I'm an engineer and writer with a built-in need to share my nearly 40 years of experience working in a male-dominated field with the rest of the world.
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One Response to How the PE Got the Job

  1. Vicki says:

    In 1980 I spent 16 weeks in St. Louis, courtesy of SWB, to get certified in electrical maintenance. This was required to be a Central Office Technican for Bell Telephone. I learned gates and logic, print reading, basic wiring, soldering (those were the days), reading volt meters, etc. All I ever did on job was change out circuit packs. It did require powering down a bay in the central office but not one time did I ever break out the print books or need my handy dandy volt meter. Still get shaky when I rewire a light switch.

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