Go directly to
      Let your ideas shape the future

      Growing from a Shy Engineer to a Confident Networker

      If you told me two years ago that I wouldn’t be working in a lab anymore and that I would be attending events and regularly meeting new people, I don’t know if I would have believed you. But in the last two years I’ve had two distinct days that changed my life.  The first was at the end of September 2015.  I was sitting in a small room at the doctor waiting to hear words that I already knew.  I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25.

      The next two weeks were a blur of tests and procedures and more biopsies. I started preparing documentation so someone could do my job when I was gone because even though I tried to work through chemo, I only made it a month before my body couldn’t work in the lab anymore. That lab was a safe place for me.  I worked with the same people and we had common interests.  We all liked the same radio stations that we listened to every day and we weren’t so fond of branching out and talking to people that weren’t part of our little family.  I knew I was going to miss those people.

      It was late March 2016 when I returned to work with a clean bill of health and a head with about a quarter inch of hair. I was a fundamentally different person.  I wanted to challenge myself to branch out.  In the days of weeding through emails, I noticed the Women’s Network was holding a volunteering event at the Baldwin Center where we served lunch to the hungry.  I signed up because it was a cause already close to my heart.  I thought I might meet some people too.

      This is where the second day that changed my life comes into play. We had finished volunteering and were eating a late lunch and I hadn’t really talked to anyone the whole time because I’m very introverted.  But I did know someone there, Kim Spinek, the executive assistant in my group, and she is so outgoing she knew just about everyone.  That’s when she introduced me to Janet Harden who, as it turned out, did a lot of fundraising for a charity that did research and provided support for people with the exact cancer I had.  I didn’t know it then, but this was the start of something incredible.

      For the next few months I was able to find some great opportunities at work to try to keep branching out including offsite testing, learning how to support crash testing, and expanding my work with quality. I hadn’t talked to Janet for a few months and then I received and email from her about Women@Work. I wasn’t sure about going but she talked me into it.

      Women@Work was a great event where I had to network with people. It turns out that I wasn’t as introverted as I thought I was and I did enjoy the entire event.  I was coming out of my shell and I didn’t even realize it was happening.  It wasn’t long after that event that I started a new job with Hydraulic Brake Systems as a test engineer.  This position was still in test, but it wasn’t in a lab.  I had to leave my comfort zone.  I was nervous, but thanks to all the networking I had done, which is how I came across the new job anyway, I knew I could do this.

      Today I work as a test engineer in HBS and I am enjoying a year cancer free and having hair to cover my head during the winter.


      This article was written by our employee.

      Heather Wilsher Dixon

      Cookie Policy

      We use cookies to provide you with the best experience on our website. Click on "Accept all" to allow all cookies or "Change cookie settings" to decide individually.

      Note: If you consent to the use of performance cookies, you also consent to the transfer of your personal data to insecure third countries (e.g. to the USA). These insecure third countries do not provide a level of data protection comparable to EU standards. In the case of certain third party providers, such as Google and Mouseflow, no other guarantees are offered to compensate for this deficit. There is therefore a risk that the transmission of your personal data may result in state authorities accessing your personal data without you having effective legal protection options.

      For more information on performance technologies and the transfer of data to third countries, please refer to the privacy policy.

      By clicking the "Accept all" button, you explicitly consent to this. Consent can be revoked at any time by changing the cookie settings. The further processing of data already collected before revocation by the third-party provider cannot be excluded.

      A cookie is a small data file that is stored on your device. We use cookies to provide basic and convenience functionalities, measure website performance and analyze user behavior on the website. 

      Required cookies are always activated because they are indispensable for the operation of the website and to store your cookie consent. Functional and performance cookies are optional. All optional cookies are deactivated by default.

      You can change your cookie settings at any time by visiting our Cookie Policy or by clearing the cache in your browser. 

      Show more Show less
      Required cookies Required

      These cookies are required to provide you with key functions.

      Functional cookies

      These cookies are used to provide certain functionalities to you.

      Performance cookies

      These cookies are used to measure website performance and user behavior. All collected data are analyzed anonymously.