In this episode, I talk to Karen Islas, P.E., a professional civil engineer and STEM advocate, about how her involvement with professional organizations, STEM, and mentorship, has helped to rapidly grow her engineering career.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Karen:
- How has being involved with multiple professional organizations helped grow rapidly in your engineering career?
- You recently graduated from the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) Institute “2022 Cohort.” What did that entail and what did you learn from it?
- What are some of the things you have learned from your mentor experience?
- How have your mentors helped you in your engineering career?
- What are some of the challenges you faced being a woman in the civil engineering industry?
- Why do you believe there is a lack of representation of STEM in the civil engineering industry, and how can civil engineers become more involved in STEM?
- What advice can you give young women in civil engineering looking to become a leader in their field?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How Women in Engineering Can Grow Rapidly in Their Careers:
- Being involved with multiple professional organizations will help you gain experience in many things like field engineering and construction, design, sourcing funds, and project management, and will show you how broad the civil engineering industry is.
- Working in civil transportation allows you to be more involved with the community and social engagement.
- You can start participating in professional organizations while you are still attending college. Being part of student chapters and taking part in their activities will help you see the opportunities that become available to you that can be valuable for your career development. Attending networking events, field trips, and training will help you connect with the civil engineering industry in the real world, and help you find internships and professional opportunities later in your career.
- If you get exposed to the public sector soon after university, you will recognize that you could work for the agencies in the jurisdiction of creating the standards for the entire industry.
- The San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) wants to create more visibility and resources for women in STEM and civil engineering because there are many opportunities now available for them in the civil engineering industry. Being a part of the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) is a valuable experience because you can work with people from different industries. It is a great way to create connections, build your leadership skills, and engage with the community.
- Being a mentor at San Diego State University allows you to feel like you are helping and contributing to the development of engineers and help them grow rapidly in their careers. Mentorship can guide you on your professional path by revealing what you are good at and where you need further development and grow rapidly.
- It is essential to empathize with new generations because everyone started where they are now. Let them understand that they must always be willing to learn new things.
- Always be aware of what you say to people because you have the power to shape people in the right or wrong way.
- Younger engineers must learn to listen attentively to people. It is critical if they want to achieve a leadership position. You will always run into people who are not willing to support you, but you must never take it personally.
More Details in This Episode…
About Karen Islas, P.E.
Karen Islas is a professional civil engineer and STEM advocate within the San Diego, California – Tijuana, Baja California, MX region. She worked in the public sector, at the local and state levels, following her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from San Diego State University. She has been involved with multiple professional organizations, like the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Public Works Association (APWA). Moreover, she just graduated from the San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) Institute “2022 Cohort,” where skills and relationships were provided to foster an environment based on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into respective leadership roles in the community across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
Correspondingly, she serves as a keynote speaker, technical individual, and mentor for engineering classes at San Diego State University and regional K-12 education. After all, the ever-changing civil engineering industry and the lack of representation within STEM motivate her to continue learning and preparing herself to surpass any hardships that may arise. Ultimately, some of Karen’s interests and hobbies include going to baseball games and concerts, as well as traveling, dancing, and spending time with her family and friends.
This Episode Is Brought to You by PPI
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We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on the things you do as a woman in engineering to grow rapidly in your career.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success