Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Next Steps-The EIT and The Navy

Since we didn't know where to go next, we prayed.  We also researched various opportunities and discovered the Department of Defense hires many mathematicians.  All this research was a lengthy and daunting process.  Much of the feedback we received was good.  However, Steve hadn't narrowed down exactly what he wanted to do with his math abilities.  And without a clear vision, it's hard to move forward.

Last fall we made a couple of moves in a different direction to test the waters.  One of those moves was him taking an engineering exam called the Engineer in Training Exam (EIT).  We decided he'd take the exam about six weeks prior to the exam date in October.  Nathan, our fifth, had just been born in August.  Steve was in his second to last grad school class and was also teaching a new class for his day job along with his three other preps (subjects).  As a result, the fact that it was a last minute decision and that Steve was so overextended in all sorts of other areas meant he didn't have much time to study for the exam except for the week prior to taking it. But we knew it was a step in the right direction.  If he could pass this exam, on a whim, it would give him some confidence that his skills were valuable and transferable.  It would also lend him some credibility.  He had to try.  So we took the leap.  He passed.

During this time, we also started applying for jobs.  By "we" I mean, I applied for them, for Steve.  It takes so much effort to apply for jobs!  And since he was so tied up in working, finishing up well at A & M, made sense for me to research and apply for him.  Most of the jobs were mathematician jobs for the government because the government will employ math guys at the master's level.  Many other companies require a PhD.  So we started sending out a ton of applications.  Many of them came back with "Eligible but not passed on to the hiring manager."  It's tough to get rejection.  And we pretty much knew why.  He had excellent grades but no practical experience.  He needed some.  We just weren't sure how to get him there. However, we knew that in time, if we kept pressing forward, something would work out.

We had our first big break in December when one of the applications came back with an offer for an interview with the Navy.  I'll never forget Steve's smile when he came home that day.  He had forwarded me the email so I knew about it but I had no idea what he thought about it.  He was beaming.  The Navy wanted him out there as soon as possible.  So less than a week later, Steve was on a plane out to Virginia, with all of his expenses covered.  It was a whirlwind experience for him.  And we were ecstatic that this opportunity had presented itself to us.  Virginia is beautiful, affordable, and working for the Navy was not only financially expedient but a worthy cause.
Steve heading out to Virginia for his interview with the Navy
However, right after interviewing, Steve knew that both jobs (he had been up for two different positions) didn't quite fit.  He was looking to creatively solve big math problems.  One of the mathematician jobs had much more to do with finance.  The other one was helping to build guns on navy ships, which seemed interesting but the work environment that he witnessed was not attractive to him.  At least that was his impression and he was reticent about that side of things.

Everything else was amazing.  We would've done it.  We would've done it anyway despite the jobs not being a good fit because it was an amazing deal.  And at the time we didn't know if another opportunity would present itself.  Plus, although Steve is a very talented mathematician, he lacked practical experience in the work force so we felt that we had to take what we could get.  But God had His way.  Steve interviewed just prior to The Sequester.  I am unsure if you are familiar with that but there were some pretty big spending cuts that took place to the Department of Defense in January and these cuts were called The Sequester.  Steve interviewed right before Christmas.  So although the Navy liked him, they got put under a hiring freeze and could not hire him.

Needless to say, we were devastated.  Not only had Virginia been taken off the table, but it seemed that the entire job market that we had targeted, the Department of Defense, had been obliterated.  Where were we to go next?  It was a hard pill to swallow.  But after a bit, we gathered our wits about us, and hit the ground running again, this time focusing on more of the private sector.  We also really tried narrowing down the direction we were going.  Was it engineering, physics, math....?  We also started thinking about internships.

It's all about the networking.  Networking, networking, networking.  My husband hates talking on the phone and dislikes even more putting himself out there.  However, after having flown across the country on his first big job interview with the US Navy, he had a taste of what might be out there.  And that pushed him out of his box.

Networking and talking on the phone with all sorts of different people in the industry...what was God going to do with all of that?  Only time would tell.   

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