Monday, May 9, 2016

Healthy foods to eat at work!

Being an engineer typically means working long hours. Combined with trying to float a "normal" social life, keeping up with familial responsibilities,  and doing normal "adult" things like getting your oil changed and seeing the dentist- this leaves you with what feels like very little time to prep food for the week. Sometimes this means that I end up eating not-so-great cafeteria food, or one of those frozen personal meals. I've decided that this lifestyle isn't working for me anymore because:
  1. It's unhealthy. The cafeteria food is filled with more salt, sugar, preservatives, and calories than I'd cook with. 
  2. It's not great for the environment. Frozen meals mean plastic and paper packaging, and the fuel needed to ship it to me. Cafeteria meals come in Styrofoam plates, which are also all sorts of bad.
  3. It's expensive! They are all really overpriced compared to making it yourself.
  4. The food I've been buying isn't even that good. It's usually under seasoned and uninspired  - the quality you remember being served for lunch if you went to a US public school. 
So, while I'm not a chef and this is not a food blog, here are some of the things I've been trying out recently (and liked). There are links under each of the photos to the websites where I found the original recipe. 

Breakfast

Overnight Oatmeal
Prep time: ~10 min including copping and cleanup
Calories: 200-300 depending on recipe
Desk eat-ability: High.
Refrigerator Oatmeal -- 8 more flavors of this popular no-cook, make-ahead, grab-and-go breakfast from The Yummy Life.
Recipes here!!
These are quick to prepare, and are good for two-three days. So you can plan ahead! Make sure to drink plenty of water the same day as you eat them, since they have chia seeds in them


Green Smoothie


Prep time: ~5 minutes ahead of time, ~10 minutes including washing the dishes the day of. 
Calories: Depends on what fruits you use
Desk eat-ability: High. Make sure this is in a spill proof container though, because if you spill this gook on yourself it is NOT a good look.  
Pro tip: blend the greens and liquid first, then add fruit. This will make it less chunky. If you are new to the green smoothie game, start with spinach. And if you are feeling really wimpy you can add a couple of teaspoons of raw coco with sweet fruit, you can feel like it's a milkshake,

Create your own yummy green smoothie with this awesome chart that breaks it all down.    — SimpleGreenSmoothies.com



Cold Brew Coffee
Prep time: ~3 minutes the night before. ~5 minutes in the morning to transfer into a non-spill container and clean the french press.
Calories: Depends on how much milk and sugar you dump in in it.
Desk eat-ability: High. Put in a spill proof container, and you can drink it on your way to work.

What's Cooking This Weekend?
Recipe here!!
Why yes, this is the stuff I spilled on myself

Lunch/Dinner

Mason Jar Salads
Prep time: About 15 -30 minutes ahead of time depending on how much chopping is involved.
Calories: Under 500
Desk Eatability: Medium. Realistically, it's quite difficult to eat out of the mason jar. It's kind of hard to mix, and an awkward angle for a fork. You can keep the same theory in a better salad container.



Snacks

Oranges!

Prep time: 0 minutes
Calories: ~45 calories
Desk eatability: High. Not super noisy, or smelly, so your coworkers won't hate you. 

All the Winter Citrus Finally Explained. Uhh, what’s the difference between a tangelo and a pomelo again?:


Infused water

How to Make Simply Infused Water | Nutrition Stripped
Recipe here!!!

I've got more options I track on the ever-awesome pinterest here. What is your favorite food to bring to work? What should I try?

Cheers,

Vanessa

PS. Remember to follow us if you like what we write!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Despite Everything

Hey my name is Anne and I am new to this blog!  I recently thought about all of the things I could say in my first blog post. But only one thing came to mind. 

"If I could do it, you could do it."

I have had this passion and burning desire in me for years to work on rockets.  I turned to my mom when I was 9 years old and said "Mommy, I wanna be an astronaut." 
She looked at me funny and said "That's nice Sweetie." We were at the Kennedy Space Center on National Girl Scouts Day. After getting home I went to my dad and said "Daddy I wanna be an astronaut." 
He didn't even look away from the TV and said "That's nice Sweetie, I'm in the middle of something." 
From that day forward I tried my hardest to do well in school and keep my grades up so that maybe someday I could fulfill my dream. 
Unfortunately every now and then I would have a rough time. 
You see my father was born in the 1950's, and sometimes his brain still lives in that era. 
So when I would have a rough time he would say "Well honey, boys are better at math and girls are better at reading.That's just the way things are, it's scientifically proven."

So he set fuel to my fire. 

I was up for a Navy ROTC scholarship in high school and I was incredibly close to signing up in the hopes I would land a Navy pilot spot. 

One step closer to the Astronaut gig. 

But I couldn't see myself in uniform, and made a vow. 
If I couldn't go up there myself I would be a part of sending others in my place.
I started applying for Engineering schools. Of course my father's response "Honey, let's be honest. You know you are not smart enough to be an engineer." 

More fuel. 

I finally started school and my first two years were awful. I failed test after test. And every time I failed, and called home just for some happiness I got the same words over and over again. 

"Sweetie, you know you can't do this. You are just not smart enough. You need to come home." 

For years I tried to beat the odds and the statistics my father had lovingly shoved down my throat. Unfortunately everyone has their rock bottom moment, but it just so happens I had years of it. 
My sophomore year of school, the year that makes or breaks you, family issues, money, life, and school blew up in my face. My father's words just kept singing in my head like a broken record. 

One night, when I was feeling down, I watched this video:


"Achieving your childhood Dreams." The last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

You just have to do it. 
You have to take the risk and keep going. 
If you hate what you're doing, and it's not what you wanted, life will be meaningless and filled with regrets. 
Sure there are so many challenges. 
Not to be cheeky but "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it."  
And who cares what he says. It's my dream and if it makes me happy then I'm going to keep chasing it. When you are gone from this world, how do you want to look back on your life? Are you gonna look back and regret not taking that risk? 
Or are you gonna look at your family and friends and smile knowing you did it?
I hit the ground running, got an internship, went thousands of miles away from home, and found my confidence in the middle of the desert (that's the location of my first job). 
I came back to school later that year to start my Junior Year and aced my classes. 
God what a feeling. 

Unfortunately people can be incredibly hurtful.  

Classmate: "Hey how'd you do on that test?"
Me: "Oh I got an A"
Classmate:  "Oh you only got that A because Professor so and so loves girls." 

Classmate #2: "Yeah you only got that job because the company desperately needs women."

Classmate #3: "Sometimes you're a little too ditsy to be an engineer." 

Coworker #1: "Is it your period this week?"

Coworker #2: "Do you want some ice cream? I heard when girls get upset ice cream makes them feel better."

Despite those obstacles I made it. I graduated with honors, pulled straight A's, had 6 internships in my career, and wound up being the speaker at my graduation, talking to my dad in the front row with love and compassion the whole time. 

Aerospace is a white male dominated field. 
Every job I have ever had, there have been men/women who look down on you in some capacity (usually the older generation), men/women who stare at you as if you were the circus in town, or worse look you up and down like meat
(yes women are just as guilty sometimes too).

Here's what I have to say: It happens. It's not going to change. 
But that doesn't mean you have to let it get to you or beat you. 
That doesn't mean you should give up on the one thing you've been burning to do. 
There will always be horrible people in this world, regardless of whether they are a man or a woman. 
But it should never stop you from chasing that star, or launching that rocket. 
Bite the bullet, pull up your bootstraps and KEEP GOING. 
The choice is yours. 


Free Awesome Inspirational Video: 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Do we discriminate against ourselves?

My friend at work (let's call her Susan) was recently thinking about applying to become a supervisor. Susan exceeded all of the stipulations in the job posting including having over twice the number years of experience required. And yet, when Susan was thinking about applying she was legitimately concerned that she was not good enough to apply. Because Susan felt like if she was going to be THE female supervisor, that she had to be beyond kick-ass to set a standard for what a woman in that role can be. Otherwise, in Susan's mind they'd see her failures as a failure of women to be able to perform that role.

Yeah, from an outside perspective it's crazy for someone to feel that they represent their entire gender, race, religion, etc. But at the same time, in industrial engineering settings where there are few women in an organization, and even fewer (or none) in management - we do often hold other women (and ourselves) accountable for "representing women".



As I type this, I can hear how silly that sounds. But something about the environment makes me react when one woman is under-performing, or using what appears to be a "maiden in distress" tactic to get other people to do her job, or otherwise reinforcing negative stereotypes that are still prevalent in our work environment. Maybe it's because it brings me back to memories like when it was the middle of a big troubleshooting effort, and some guy who didn't know me assumed I was incompetent and made jokes about me being great for a secretary. And so later, I feel like a woman who doesn't "prove people wrong" is somehow losing ground that the rest of us are trying to gain. Women have been the industry for decades, and there must be a reason why we are treading water when it comes to the race towards equality.

I wish it was just me; I know that there are a lot of us who feel that way... But when I step back for a second, I realize that the women I'm judging for not "representing women" are not actually any worse than their male counterparts. Because I believe they represent us as a whole, my expectations for them (and for myself) are unfairly high. Just as my friend Susan's expectations for herself as a potential supervisor were unfairly high. As she described her "shortcomings" it was clear that she thought she should have manager level experience to perform a supervisor level role.

Whatever we want to call this mindset (which is a mix of imposter's syndrome and believing that we need to represent all women), we need to collectively snap out of it. No other woman represents us as individuals, and we don't represent other women. By perpetuating this thought process, and not applying to jobs when we are qualified (and not overqualified) we are becoming complacent in constructing the glass ceilings that limit us from progress.We shouldn't have to outperform men to be considered equals.
























So give yourself, and other women, a break. Don't disqualify yourself from a position before you've even given it a shot, and try to not blame other women for causing discrimination you see in other parts of your life with their shortcomings. The only way we'll be judged as individuals (as we should be) is if we start to change the rhetoric.

Love,

Vanessa

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

STEAM Themed Dresses!

I've previously covered why being a female engineer is awesome, but having a background in engineering can be a strong foundation for many different career paths. A great example of that is Eva (for once in the history of this blog, that's her actual name!), a cool scientist turned entrepreneur who has shifted to creating a unique line of clothes that combine the femininity of dresses, with "geeky" designs, with pockets! And who doesn't love pockets in dresses! If you didn't raise, your hand, you are lying to yourself right now.

Now THIS is an infinity scarf
But being serious for a second here, the work she is doing to show that "geeky" and "feminine" can describe the same thing is really important. Every little bit we change the dialogue can help impact our own engineering bubbles where we have to explain that an engineer "looks like" us. So hopefully, you'll support this cool project too. (PS I am not affiliated with this company, nor am I being paid to say this or share this). 

- Vanessa
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My love of all things Science started when I was a kid. I found constant amazement in the world around me and wanted to know everything about everything. As a teenager, there was never any question in my mind about what field I wanted to pursue. My dream was to become a famous geneticist and to right the wrong done to my childhood hero, Rosalind Franklin, by being the first person to unlock the human genome. I tried to make my dream a reality when I went to college and obtained degrees in Biology & Psychology.

The stereotypes about female scientists started to really bother me very early in my career. Whenever I would tell people that I was a scientist, a way too frequent response back was, “You don’t look like a scientist.” I somehow managed to restrain myself from saying, “Really? Well, do you know what a punch in the face looks like, because I’d be happy to show you?!” Maybe it comes from having an awesome spitfire for a mom, but I have always viewed femininity as a huge strength. I unapologetically like wearing dresses, lip gloss, and heels. However, I also know that I’m tough as nails and don’t mind getting muddy in the name of science or discovery. I got completely fed up this notion of what a Scientist “looked like”. I worked my butt off to get where I was and I felt like I sincerely deserved everything I achieved. How could I possibly not look like I belonged in the field?Did I need to change my appearance to look more masculine so that people would accept my merits in my field? I just wasn’t willing to change who I was in order to fit people’s stereotypes about what I should look like.

Women who enter STEM fields are 45% more likely than their male counterparts to leave the field within a year, and sadly, I became a part of that statistic. There are a lot of factors involved in why I left my career in STEM, and it obviously isn’t solely because of the way I liked to dress. However, it did have a lot to do with feeling isolated and like I didn’t belong in my field. After a few career changes, I finally found my stride in e-Commerce.

Last year I joined forces with a former ThinkGeek co-worker to create a company called Svaha where we developed a line of children’s clothes featuring STEAM themes (Science | Technology |
Engineering | Art | Math). We wanted little girls to be able to wear dresses with code & chemistry experiment designs on them & we wanted to make it cool for boys to wear shirts with cats, rainbows, and butterflies! After we successfully launched the line, we started getting a flood of emails from women in STEAM fields asking us to make dresses for them too. We realized there was a missed market for women who want to showcase their love of STEAM themes.

Eva & Jaya - Creators of Svaha STEAM Angels

We are really proud to introduce our Kickstarter campaign for Svaha STEAM Angels – Smart Dresses for Smart Women. The 5 dresses in this initial line each feature a STEAM theme. We want to create a way for women to own STEAM in their own way and prove that brainy is beautiful!

Science | Technology | Engineering | Art | Math

This is highly personal for me, as I want to change how our society views women in STEAM to prevent other women from going through the isolation that I felt. I think we desperately need more smart, strong, creative women working in STEAM or interested in STEAM, and Svaha wants to do its part to smash through gender stereotypes. Please support our Kickstarter campaign so that we can create many more fun, STEAM-themed women’s clothes for years to come!!

-Eva

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cube Decorations

So you graduated, got a job, and now you have  your very own hand me down cube. Some may say that the stains in the filing cabinet from your previous owner are "character", but you're finding it to be to much like a crime scene to call this place "work home". Or maybe you have one of those cubes that just feels too sterile. Either way- here are some rules and ideas for cube decorations.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Find out what your office policy is on what you can have in your cube and where you can have it. Some places have policies on how cubes are to appear to give a professional look to the office overall. 
  2. If you have stuff hanging on your cube walls, some of it should be work related. This isn't your college dorm room, and you want people who walk into your cube when you aren't there to know you actually work. I like to keep this behind my computer, because it also happens to be super helpful to have posted quick reference guides for basic work things. Hanging calendars can also be helpful for managing long term projects (even in the digital age).
  3. Only display comics and photos which represent your professional persona. AKA stay away from photos of you and your besties drunk at a bar, or some raunchy comic strip or something. This should really go without saying. 
  4. Generally- your cube is a reflection of you. That said, mine is a total disaster most of the time. BUT that's also sometimes an accurate reflection of me. At every step, be conscious to decorate your cube so that you are comfortable while still considering how this will impact how your bosses and coworkers will perceive you.
With that said, here are some ideas of ways to add a little life to your dreary cube:

  • To literally add life to you cube, try getting a low maintenance plant to bring a little life to your cube. Beware of ants and other gross bugs that this may attract...  

Check these out here!
  • Having a hook for your jacket/purse is a must, if you don't already have one. It's practical and it makes your cube feel a little more homey You can find them all sorts of places, but here's an example from staples
dps by Staples® Verti-Go™ Cubicle Accessories Double Coat Hook, 1
  • Fun hanging files and folders are a nice way of adding a bit of life to your cube, that you can "hide away" in your filing cabinet.  
Capri Designs File Folders - Aztec Ikat CPDFFL4567
Check out more patterned folders here
  • DRY ERASE BOARDS! I'm so addicted to these, and I find they are a really great way of talking through complex problems. If you have problems with your coworkers writing random stuff on it, just hide the markers.
  • Positive affirmations, or funny sings are also a good way to spice up a cube. I put these here to help calm me down on days where I feel like everything is spinning out of control. So I'd recommend avoiding Dilbert cartoons- only because I feel like they only reinforce my negativity.
Somebody here intended this for yogis, but it turns out to be a great Electrical Engineering pun
What better inspiration to have at work than this? I don't know about you but sometimes in the heat of the moment I get really not-nice. And while I don't think women have to be sweet pushovers, I also think that everyone should be kind to each other. 
  • Funny/cute magnets for filing cabinets or magnetic cube walls
Available here

Cute magnets here!
  • And last of all sometimes you need something a little funny. Like sometimes it feels like this is my actual business title:
Get personalized business car holders here
Do you have any other tips about how to make a cube feel a little less stuffy?

Cheers, 

Vanessa Pocket

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Engineering Resume Tips and Tricks!

So it's that time of year again and students everywhere are trying to get their resumes up to snuff so they can grab a sweet first job. And as your designated woman on the other side of the table, I've decided to give you some tips. If you haven't checked them out yet I have some older posts about questions to ask before accepting a jobquestions to ask during an interview, and how to apply to jobs without getting fired.

Step 1: Write a list of your previous jobs, awards, accomplishments, publications, professional organizations, certifications, etc.

Step 2: Find a resume format you like. There are plenty of examples online, and some built into word. Pick something that is a single page- you are writing a resume, not a CV, and recruiters don't have the time or patience to hear your whole life story.

Step 3: Populate the resume with your information! Start with the easy stuff- like your name and contact info. I'd recommend not using a college email, because sometimes recruiters find your resume years later (when your college email is long gone) with new opportunities. Then, start populating with the information you've collected in Step 1. At this stage don't be afraid to go over the one page limit, you'll pare it down later.
Should I put my citizenship status on my resume?
In the US, you should include this if jobs you are interested in require US citizenship and either you are not born in the US, or your name sounds foreign. And yes, I realize there is so much wrong with the last part of that instruction... but I've been told that by lots of advisers, so I'm just passing it along. 
Should I put my GPA on my resume?
Only if you are proud of it. Otherwise leave it off and let your accomplishments speak for you. They can always ask for your GPA later.
Should I put this random stuff from high school on my resume?
This one is the most frequent offender I see in resumes. Unless you were doing "real" engineering work in high school (which can count towards relevant work experience), or are a college freshman or younger - you should drop anything from when you were not legally an adult. Recruiters don't actually care that you won the school spelling bee in 9th grade, or that you were on Varsity cheer leading.  Picture the recruiter asking you, "Why should I hire you?" Your resume should only have things that you'd feel comfortable using in your response. Things like "well, I won this band competition in 10th grade" are unlikely responses. 
Remember to use active voice and a variety of action verbs in your job descriptions. Use a consistent tense, and be consistent with the grammatical structure you use. For example - decide ahead of time if you want to use complete sentences or if your bullets will be fragments (which don't have periods at the end). The consistent voice will help a reader easily pull information from your resume while skimming through a huge pile.

Step 4: Find an actual job that you want to apply to and compare your resume to it. To be clear, I'm not saying that you should mimic the job description if you do not have the skills or experience to back it up. I'm saying that you should be aware of what the recruiters are actually looking for in an employee. For example
Do you know how to use their required programs? Specifically list the ones you are fluent in on your resume. 
Do they ask for a certain number of years of experience in a certain field? Make sure your resume highlights what experience you have, and has the dates of employment listed.
Step 5: Pare it down, or beef it up. Okay, now that you have all of the information that you want - it's time to take a look at the volume of information.
Is your resume looking a little thin? Consider adding some of the following, but make sure that whatever you add is relevant and not just filler. You are constructing a one page thesis on why you should be hired - and random information will take away from the good stuff. 

Is your resume too long?  If you are in your teens or twenties and are over a page, it's time to cut some stuff out. This is your chance to pick your BEST selling points to keep on your resume to help you shine. Here are some ideas of things that I cut from long resumes: 

Yes, I realize that these two lists have a lot of the same stuff on them. But the idea is to prioritize what will make you look the best. 
Step 6: Get somebody super honest to review your resume. Or better yet, get more than one somebody to review your resume. They should check for relevance, spelling, syntax, etc. It's preferable that you choose somebody who also knows you fairly well, because they can sometimes remember gems that you've forgotten to include. Take their feedback as a gift; if they are tough than they probably want to help you succeed. So, don't forget to say thank you!

Step 7: Save it as a PDF, print it out, and apply to jobs! Make sure to read each job description carefully. You may want more than one resume on file if you are applying to more than one type of a job. If you are going to a job fair, learn to use your resume as an interactive tool to tell your story.

Good luck in your job hunt! Don't forget to like, share and follow if you like what we write!

Cheers,

Vanessa

PS. What do you think is the most common resume mistake?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Importance of A Diverse HR Department/Management

Over the years I've had the privilege of experiencing a variety of different company cultures- as a contractor and as a direct employee. The company cultures have run the gambit from super liberal and inclusive environments where everyone hung out with each other after work, to very conservative workplaces where there were regulations on everything down to a strict ban on headphones. And as you would expect with that range of workplaces, I fit in in some places and felt like a total outsider in others.
Sometimes it's hard to tell if a new company sees different as okay
As much as we as engineers like to ignore the role the HR department and management play in our every day environment, I've noticed that the diversity of the HR department and supervision is a fairly good indicator of company culture. Especially in places where you don't fit in (whether it is your gender, race, religion, politics, etc.), it is imperative to have a company culture where people understand what it is to be different.

Let's say, for example, you are a young female non-christian liberal working in company dominated by white male republican men. You try not to advertise your differences, and just blend in. But one day, you feel uncomfortable with something about how you are being treated because you are different. Maybe as a woman that's receiving explicit texts from male coworkers, or being treated like a secretary. Or as a non-christian maybe people are trying to convert you in the middle of the work day. Or if you are a different race maybe somebody made a racial slur. I've seen all of these happen in the work place...  But would you feel comfortable reporting these issues somebody in HR who is also a white christian republican man? Would you feel like he'd understand your point, or would he relate better to the people harassing you?



Maybe he would understand and take appropriate action to help you. This is by no means saying that all (or even most) white christian men wouldn't try to help. But the point is, if there is any hesitation that he might not - victims are likely to let problems go unreported rather than risk being blacklisted from the industry.

At least that's how I've felt when I'm in precarious positions. And with many of my stories (being discounted for my age, having my success attributed to my feminine wiles, coworkers placing bets on who will date the new female engineer, coworkers "flirting" by being assholes, being set up with clients' children and so many more gems) my friends have asked "why didn't you report this?!"

The answer is that like all well crafted "good ol' boys" clubs, everyone I could have complained to appeared to be a member of that club. Even the guys in HR at one company would spend afternoons discussing how they were going to fuck their wives that night loudly enough that we could hear every word even with the door closed. If they are part of the problem, how on earth am I expected to ask them for help? I want to be an engineer, not spend my life fighting legal battles or defending myself for every little thing. (I totally left that place by the way, so don't feel too bad for me now.) I imagine the same story is true for many other people; not all of whom have the ability to move on as easily as I did.

Which brings me back to my main point- an inclusive environment is constructed from the top down by diverse leadership and a diverse HR department. And an inclusive environment is how a company retains talented people- not just people who fit into a mold. So when you are joining a new place, don't just stare past the HR rep. Take a good look around, and try to figure out if this is a company culture where you feel you can thrive.


Cheers,

Vanessa