six years.

Since 1992 I've worked in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. I've spent the past 6 years working at Autodesk, helping create design and modeling software for engineers, planners, and architects.

This is my professional face.  Me at Autodesk University. Las Vegas. 2013

This is my professional face. 
Me at Autodesk University. Las Vegas. 2013

Like many other civil engineers I started my career by working at a big city consulting firm where I proved my worth by making blueprints, collating specification packages and editing the nitpicky text on construction drawings. Back then, I logged into an Autodesk discussion group for the first time and remember thinking, "How cool would it be to work there, helping engineers do things better? I'd love do that." And that's when I put Work at Autodesk on my list of career goals. Turns out it would be a very long time before that would happen.

Along the way, I worked for a few small firms and a sort-of big one. Over time, I helped design seemingly anything - golf courses, landfills that generate their own electricit and parking lots. A lot of parking lots. Remember that show Dirty Jobs? Some days that show was a pretty accurate picture of my job. (Please don’t tell my parents. I’m not sure that’s what they bargained for when they signed those tuition checks.)

Then one day I up and quit, moved home and went back to school for an MBA. I traveled to Nicaragua and El Salvador to do a small bit of good work. After that, things got interesting. Got fired once. Another time, got laid off, which is basically like getting dumped.

Civil engineers do some wonderful things to make this planet livable but even I have to admit it's often hard to make sense of what they do. To this day I believe that no one should have to struggle to understand what civil engineers are trying to say when they describe their plans to prevent floods, fix bridges, build roads, or clean up the water. As it turns out, this really matters to me, so much so that it might be the reason I didn't give it up even after searching more than a year to find a new job. 

In 2010, nearly 15 years after making it one of my career goals, I finally landed a job at Autodesk. When asked what I do, I usually say, “I'm currently making the most of my chance to work there.”

I can't believe the same badge* has let me in the door for 6 years. Six years! This is the longest I've ever worked for a single employer, ever.

Thanks, Autodesk. You’ve been good to me and I'm loving every minute of our time together. See you tomorrow.

*Okay. Technically not the *same* badge. I had to update that picture because nobody needs to see what 6 years does to a lady of a certain age. Yowza.