Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Three Paths and Valentine's Day 2013

One of the biggest hurdles in this whole process was Steve getting a vision of what he was looking for in a career.  We knew he liked math.  We knew he could solve big problems.  We just didn't know how that translated to the industry.  So we started researching again.  I looked at all sorts of options and narrowed down three paths he could take-engineering, computer science and finance.  Now these areas were pretty broad but at least we could start to think about each one and then pick a direction.  

We knew that Steve had the ability to program.  His masters is in Computational Mathematics.  However, programming is not his favorite and he doesn't care to do it all the time.  He will program enough to solve big systems of equations as they relate to math problems, but not just to program itself.  It's not interesting to him.  So computer science was out.

Finance held a lot of promise.  Many mathematicians run statistics for insurance companies (they are called actuaries) and others work on the stock market.  Yet when we thought about this option, we knew it wasn't Steve.  He's not a flashy businessman-type.  He's more quiet and simple.  

What it came down to was this-Steve wanted to creatively solve big math problems.  The best bet for this type of work would lie in the engineering world working on real-world applications.  And since he had passed the EIT, he was considered an engineer in training so that lent him some credibility in the engineering industry.  But doing what in engineering?  There are millions of types of engineers.  That's when we started networking.

During this process, God led us to many people to talk to.  Steve has many relatives that are pretty academic and "mathy" so we started with them.  He talked with cousins, his uncle who is a math guy and various others about what he likes to do with math and how his skills would translate to the industry.  These conversations sparked a lot of thought and helped us narrow down even more what we were looking for.  Isaac's teacher at school got us in touch with her Dad who has been an engineer at Boeing for years.  Her Dad talked at length with Steve about his skills, gave him advice and was a great first encounter with the industry.  These conversations were not easy for Steve.  He had to really gear himself up to talk to all of these people, many of whom he did not know, and put himself out there.  It was really, really hard for him.  But he did it.  The Navy had given him a taste.  He wanted to know more.  

Meanwhile, I was always researching for him.  I discovered that Raytheon was a pretty big engineering firm and that they did presentations at various colleges throughout the year.  They happened to be coming to Stanford in February...on Valentine's Day to be exact.  So we made plans to go up there and see their presentation for Valentine's Day!  We didn't have much information about the presentation since Steve isn't a student there so we weren't even sure where the presentation was!  We literally looked all over campus for an hour.  It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  We had the GPS on our iPhone and the address and that was it.  I kept praying the whole time, as we circled, that we'd find it.  We had driven an hour and a half to find out more about Raytheon, but every minute that passed brought more and more frustration to Steve.  

I knew any minute he was going to give up.  I kept my mouth shut, only opening it to say positive things, and let him fight it out inside.  I knew everything inside of him just wanted to bail and go home.  I knew it.  But that was old Steve.  That was Steve at Cal Poly when things got difficult.  That wasn't Steve now, on the brink of graduating with honors with his Masters.  Steve now was responsible, mature and accomplished. He had to keep going.  I let him battle with himself and just held his hand in silence.   

Going to this presentation was a huge step for him and I knew it.  We had to find it!  Just when I could tell he nearly reached the end of himself, we found it.  Phew!  We had to bring Nathan with us so I sat out in the foyer and played with him while Steve watched the presentation praying the whole time that God would meet him there and give him some direction.  I had no idea what to expect when he walked out.  Would he be happy?  Feel like it was a waste of our effort?  Be intrigued?

I was pleasantly surprised.  He was totally blown away and encouraged.  He left saying, "Why have I never known there are jobs out there like that?  They are looking for people like me.  I can do that.  And I am so interested in that work.  How can I get there?  What do I have to do to get there?" He was pumped.  He had a vision now.  He wanted to work for a company like that doing creative math and engineering.  He talked to a recruiter afterward, getting over more fears, and got even more information on how his skills would fit in at Raytheon.  She also affirmed my belief that he should try and get an internship to get some hands-on experience for his resume.  All in all, it was very encouraging.    

Afterward, we were starving so we headed to In N Out at 9 pm to finally have dinner.  Both of us were beaming.  Nathan sat on the table in between us, we held hands, and declared it would be a Valentine's Day to remember.  We had received some direction.  We still weren't sure our future but Steve had a little piece of the vision now.  He had seen what was potentially out there for him and he was pumped.  Valentine's Day 2013 will always be a special, momentous day for us.  

In the midst of winter and uncertainty, it was a bright day of hope and optimism.  God would direct us.  We just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust Him as He wrote our story.

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