Eli’s Digital Journey: Navigating Crossroads Into Tech

Life is full of decisions, my most recent decision was one that unlocked and opened many new trails for my future. Before we get to that big decision, a little about me. I am a small-town kid from rural Northern Michigan, and I have a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering and after completing that degree, I jumped into non-destructive testing of oil and gas pipelines. This career path kept me traveling for two years at 97% away from home which put me on an uphill battle that wore me down and put me into burnout. After some time, I eventually decided to change; I quit my job and moved to Seattle where I landed a job at a large aerospace company designing equipment and tooling, a very mechanical based position I might add, this position was great for a few years…

After working in the equipment and tooling engineering position for a few years, I was not seeing a path forward and out. I was being treated poorly by my customers, production personnel, my management, and team. I needed a way out, I kept applying to new roles only to be blocked by management or lack of experience. It’s the height of Covid and I need a change, I NEED something new, I am being treated terribly by production personnel, I can’t take it anymore, my mental health was declining, I’m not making enough money to make ends meet, the list goes on. I felt worse than I did when I was in my burnout from my oil & gas career.

After enduring this pain, I reached a critical point. Seeking a way out, I turned to my network for guidance. We talked about work life balance, and flexibility withing the workday compared to working within the aerospace industry with the bureaucracy and union red tape.

This is when I decided to take the hard path. Luckily, my current company offers a continuing education program. This program provides a certain amount of funding each year for employees to pursue further education. It covers a range of options, from certificates to doctorate degrees “That’s it!” I thought “that is my way out.” I heard about Oregon state’s post back program from my coworkers. I had one more loose end to tie up, who can I take with me, at the time my closest coworker was going through a similar situation so I presented the idea to him. That was it, we both applied.

That was 3 years ago now. Since then, I have a new position within said company, my mental space is better and I am a software engineer. Without this program, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

Got any book recommendations?