In this episode, I talk with Jim (a false name used to keep our guest anonymous), a young engineer who had to spend some time in prison soon after he graduated college. We talk about everything he went through while in prison as well as the things he learned and how his experiences have contributed to his success in his career.
Here are some of the key points discussed about Jim’s time spent in prison:
- The moment the decision was made to go to prison, I started making plans and preparations to study for the PE (Principles and Practice of Engineering) Exam.
- I considered myself as being a visitor to their strange and scary prison world. You have to be the most polite and most considerate person you have ever been in your entire life in prison.
- While in prison I was a tutor helping people to get their GEDs (General Education Diplomas). This helped me earn points so that people would leave me alone and it also saved my life several times.
- I had to adapt to different situations and different people and I utilized my education in the situation I was in, which really helped me.
- The determination and mindset I had were what helped me to cope after prison. From the very first day, I was preparing myself for the day I would be released.
- Upon release, although I prepared myself for two and one half years, I was very scared. I felt I did not have the skills necessary to become an engineer as I was out of touch with the world for so long.
- I learned about the importance of networking and started to reach out to professionals and engineers.
- When I started working as an engineer, I was not a shining star by any means, but I learned from every failure I had and made the next project better. Today, I am the fastest and one of the most knowledgeable people in our office, and I am managing several engineers.
- When I think back from where I was to where I am today, I feel very blessed. Prison has taught me to be considerate and respectful towards other people and made me much more aware of my surroundings.
More in this episode…
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Jim provides some great advice about never giving up in your career.
Jim has worked hard in various jobs as he paid his way through school for a degree in engineering. He had a family and kids and was struggling with being a recent graduate. In the last recession, he would work a lot of jobs a day for him to feed his family.
Jim is an engineer that unfortunately had to go to prison for 2 and a half years. Upon release, he did not have any engineering experience and didn’t know anyone who would give him a chance at such a position. He would be given odd jobs from friends to bring in some money, but never gave up on wanting to be an engineer. He started establishing a network and reached out to me. I listened to his story. That phone call I had with Jim motivated him and told him that he was going to achieve his goal somehow.
I decided to get Jim in touch with somebody I knew and as it turned out he got a job interview somewhere else at the same time. It turned out that he got the job he interviewed for. Jim told those company leaders his story and they listened and decided to give him a chance. Less than 30 days from leaving prison he was employed as a civil engineer. He worked very hard nights and on his own time to catch up, learn what he needed to and make himself a good asset. It is now several years later after that day and the boost he got from the phone call we had, lead him to work in engineering management, overseeing several other engineers today.
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
Engineering Management Accelerator Workshop (Online) | 5 PDHs
Engineering Management Institute Professional Membership
Engineer to Manager: On-demand
Goal-Setting for Engineering Professionals: Take Action Today (1PDH)
Business Development Course: The Seller-Doer Academy Program
This episode is brought to you by PPI, the leader of FE, PE, or SE exam preparations. Use promo code T-E-C-C-8 for a 20% discount at PPI2Pass.com
This episode is also brought to you by WPI, one of the oldest engineering & technology universities in the country. Visit go2.wpi.edu/tecc to explore over 15 graduate degree programs in science, technology, and engineering.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how adversity has helped you in your engineering career.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success