In this edition of “Why Engineering?”, we got the opportunity to speak with Virginie Janneteau. This is our second engineer who hails from another country and is getting the spotlight. To be honest, we never dreamed of building such a diverse team in this amount of time.
Starting her journey in France, Virginie made her way to the U.S. during her career. Looking at the Janneteau family tree, it was full of engineers. One might say it was a family tradition, but Virginie knew she was made for this profession.
“I’m most likely a product of my environment. I like science, math, physics, and I am from a family where my parents are engineers. My granddad is an engineer. My great granddad was an engineer. And it was like, you're good in math and physics, there you go, that's the path for you. That sounded as fun as it could be,” said Virginie.
Then, like most engineers, she had to go through growing pains. Finding what she liked and, more importantly, what she didn’t like.
For starters, Virginie gravitated more towards astrophysics and research and development subjects, even completing an internship during her years at a French University. Although she enjoyed the experience and was thankful for it, she was able to decide which direction her future should go.
“The daily duties didn’t match my character,” said Janneteau. Later adding, “I realized that this is not what I will enjoy doing every day for the rest of my life.”
Virginie remembers that the timing for everything involved was just too slow for her liking, and that this experience is why she ended up leaning more towards mechanical and industrial engineering.
Did she ever doubt that she had taken the wrong path?
“Luckily, I didn't really have those doubts through college because I was going through general engineering,” said Virginie.
When she grew up and was good at math and science, Virginie felt like there was always a place for her in the engineering world, she was just unsure of the best fit.
This blind confidence that she would find the right job is something that would help her as she ventured out into the real-world post-graduation. Not only having the confidence, but the passion to explore.
Virginie took several opportunities to try out various industries and positions. This helped her fine tune her passion and what kind of day-to-day responsibilities she was looking for, “That's what I always recommend to any young professional is to find internships, get into as many experiences that you can. Take that opportunity because that's how I found what I liked and the activities that would fit for me,” said Virginie.
Once she bounced around in different roles at numerous companies, Virginie was able to uncover the true meaning of engineering in her life, “For me, engineering is fun, it's the way my brain works. I enjoy looking at things and figuring them out to get the why and how,” said Virginie.
In this environment, she was able to find day-to-day work experience that she was good at, proud of, and could see herself doing for the rest of her life.
“My favorite part about the day-to-day of engineering might be different from what others say, but what I like is helping. I feel like I help people by bringing a solution,” said Virginie.
A common theme throughout this campaign thus far has been the women experience as an engineer. This demographic has grown over recent years, and for good reasons. Leaving the current state of this industry in an extremely unique position.
Some view it as an unequal playing field for women engineers, who must deal with the realities of being a minority group. However, as the opportunities grew for Virginie, so did her perspective.
“I think it was more an advantage for me being a woman in an environment with mostly men. It brings a little bit of balance. A mix can help create a beautiful environment at work,” said Virginie.
Another popular thought we continue to hear from our women engineers is based on the idea that some struggles come from within.
As Virginie put it bluntly, “The biggest barrier for woman is the limitations that we put on ourselves.”
Building the confidence to use your skills and believing in the impact you can have can be half the battle. Janneteau thinks that sometimes, “it can be in our[women] nature to wait for things to come to us, and not going out there to take them.”
In the year 2023, there are many variables that make up a positive and healthy work environment. Virginie has had the opportunity to take advantage of several in a few different instances.
When Virginie decided to have a family, she had to press pause on her engineering career. There have been no regrets about her choice, mostly because of the welcome she received upon her return to the workforce.
“I had taken a break from work for a few years to take care of my children. I was back to work, and a friend of mine who's with Intertec reached out to tell me about this opportunity here. I thought that would be an amazing opportunity, so I took it,” said Virginie.
She loved every moment of her decision. The new work environment, post pandemic, made for a perfect fit, “As engineers, we don't necessarily have to be in the office at a certain eight to four type of timing. We can work from home, we can communicate with people. Everything is on the computer,” said Janneteau.
Not only was timing a factor, but the array of projects really intrigued Virginie to work with Intertec Engineering.
It just so happened that another big decision was on the horizon. Whether or not to take the time to make lifelong memories with her children while they are still living at home.
“I'm really grateful that Intertec is different, very flexible and understanding. The team is at another level than most,” said Virginie.
So, that’s the plan, to take a once in a lifetime trip with her family. Only temporarily putting her engineering career on hold, “For me, engineering is not exactly just the career, it's how the brain was shaped, and you apply everything that you learn through life,” said Virginie.
This seemed to be a brand-new spin on the question, “Why Engineering?” because it appears to be a way of life, with achievements coming in so many ways.
“If you were going to ask me my most important achievement, I was going to say my family, because I'm a parent and I think that's my legacy,” said Virginie.
However, some of her kids have already shown glimpses of what we call the “engineer thought process”. Could there be more Janneteau engineers on the way? Only time will tell, but we like those odds.