So, a couple of weeks ago I received word that I was to be furloughed from my position at Barry Engineering this past Wednesday. This setback is caused by the financial crisis that come as a response to a response. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, a lot of businesses had its employees work-at-home. This, coupled with stay-at-home orders, and designation of essential businesses, caused the economy to crash. This is just a sampling of all the effects of such a shut-down.
Luckily, Civil Engineers are considered essential, so a lot of firms, including mine, were still able to function with these orders for a short time. The problem is that with the failing economy, investors cannot easily fund projects, limiting the amount of available work. It is not sustainable to maintain a full staff on a full time payroll without sufficient income.
Being furloughed is a setback for me, especially since I have only worked for Barry Engineering for 9 months: 5 of those months on contract, and 4 months full-time. I still have so much to learn. There’s so many things I should be able to know to continue my career. In order to better understand my position, let’s take a step back to a simpler time: the summer of 2019.
On the heels of graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, I had a whole world of possibilities for my career. I initially hoped I could get a job and live on my own in Austin. It was either that, or settle back home and find a job in my hometown of Houston. I had been on the job hunt for quite a while, and I didn’t have any offers when I graduated college. I had only landed a few interviews that didn’t lead me anywhere. In order to better take care of myself, I decided to head home to Houston after I graduated.
While I was home, my life was simple. I spent time applying for jobs, attending weekday masses almost twice a week, playing piano, and watching shows. I did have a few more interviews, including one where I had to go to Cedar Park, near Austin, and another in Cypress. I had the goal in mind of getting a job and moving out in six months. Only one part of that goal came true. I got a job at Barry Engineering in late July.
When I started, I had little knowledge of what I needed to be successful. I knew little to nothing about wood construction, shear resistance, foundations, and many other topics in structural engineering. I was good with numbers and a fast learner, but I still didn’t always understand all that my boss was explaining to me. There was some assumed prior knowledge that I didn’t have. I wasn’t helping myself by utilizing my automatic response of “I know,” in order to respond to any errors, when I had no clue what I did wrong.
Now, in the spring of 2020, I have a lot of free time like I did in the summer of 2019. I realize that there’s still so much that I need to learn to be a professional engineer. There’s so much my boss wants and expects me to know in order to become a successful structural engineer. I have learned a lot since starting my job and that shouldn’t stop because work stopped. In order to fill the gap caused by the lack of work, I hope to spend some of my time off studying for my job, learning and understanding the methods of design via readings and video lectures. The furlough isn’t going to be over quick, and that’s okay. I need some time to rebuild.
In conclusion, I’m not upset at my furlough. I view this time as a learning experiences. I’m lucky business didn’t halt to a point of no return: a permanent shutdown. I hold down on the hope that things will resume to a sort of normal. Sometimes, taking a step back lets you see the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that it all will be okay. Trust in God, and let life be. Know that this setback is only temporary, just as our time on this earth is only temporary. I need to learn more and trust. The rest is in God’s hands. Please remember to wash your hands.
The Nerd of May