First, my sincere apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I got married in August and this year has been a whirlwind! I hope I’m not too late in responding. When I was in high school, I actually did not even know what engineering was and it was not a career I was considering. I was going to be an interior designer or major in languages. However, it was a professor from the University of Kentucky who changed my mind one day at a career day workshop. I never considered changing from engineering ever since that day. However, what I did change was the field of engineering. I began in civil engineering for a majors in structures. I soon realized that I enjoyed working around people so much that I feared this would limit my ability to be with people. So I continued with my structural engineering, but I got another major which was in construction and where I am still today.
Making choices in one’s career is never easy. I always look at the pros and cons of every decision I make before I decide. I would encourage you to do the same. The one thing I have learned in life is that no one can make a decision for you-you must do that on your own. However, your question regarding a mentor is a good one. A mentor can be extremely helpful and can provide you guidance and assistance in identifying those pros and cons to the decision you are considering. I had 3 primary mentors over my career-all men as women simply did not exist at the time in my field, but men who believed women could do just as much as their male counterparts. Look for someone that you can actually meet with from time to time as face to face discussions are so much more valuable than email. It is that personal connection that can really make a difference for you.
I wish you the best in your career. There are never any easy answers, but the one thing we do know is that engineers improve the quality of life for everyone and our planet. You are making a difference and I would encourage you to continue making that difference. It’s a great feeling to go home every day and know that someone has benefited from what you were able to do.