Today is the first engineer interview series on The Grounded Engineer.

The goal of my interview is to understand the motivations behind why people pursued a degree in engineering and the advice they would give to someone interested in a profession as an engineer.

It is incredible to see the vast array of jobs that people with engineering degrees have. An engineering degree is so powerful when you graduate. Many companies are looking for degreed engineers because they are inherently good problem solvers.

Companies generally compensate engineering graduates well and there are many jobs out there right now to choose from.

Five of the top ten degrees according to Top Universities are engineering programs. Now on to the interview…

Tell us about yourself (name, occupation):

Hi, My name is Tracy, a former Environmental Engineer with batman abilities because I play multiple characters 🙂

I’m either acting as a mom, or as a consultant or as a real estate investor or as a blogger at Financial Nirvana Mama.  And my favorite addiction is fitness.

Endorphins are my drug of choice.

What were your hobbies as a kid?

I loved all kinds of sports and my favorites are tennis and volleyball.

I loved crafts, and fixing things like my broken toys -> making them work again!

And I danced to Michael Jackson a lot!

When you got into high school what were your favorite classes?

Physics and Phys Ed.

When did you know that you wanted to become an engineer?

I remembered when a female environmental engineer spoke at a conference for high school students to inspire young women to go into STEM careers. That lady changed my life and got me inspired to pursue a degree in engineering.

She took the time to have me shadow her for one day and I loved it.  I knew I wanted to become an environmental engineer from that day on.

[Please check out this post by Tracy if you want to learn Why Quitting Her Engineering Job Was a Good Decision.]

What college did you attend and how did you decide to go there?

The University of British Columbia in Canada.  I didn’t decide to go there… my parents kicked me out of the house because that university offered the most money. 

Because it paid for my tuition plus more, I had to go there.  

Since this is a personal finance blog, did you graduate with debt? If so, how much?

Engineering was HARD!  I couldn’t keep up with an 80% average – at least not in my first year of engineering, so I lost a big chunk of my scholarship.

That was the kick in the butt that I needed.  I learned to side hustle while studying engineering. I had a lot of hustles that taught me the school of life, here’s a sample of jobs I’ve had while juggling engineering:

  • Worked for a head hunter;
  • Tutored math, physics and chemistry;
  • Hostess at Whitespot;
  • Worked like Al Bundy at a shoe store; and
  • Worked as a research assistant for my professor.   

But I still ended up with over $20K in debt.

If you have student loans, how are you tackling paying them off?

Paid them off after two years of graduating.  I had to side hustle again after I graduated. I worked as an engineer, tutor, and model for the first two years.

What do you do for your job?

I felt like I achieved my goals in environmental engineering so I ‘retired’ and became a project management consultant for the IT industry.   

What are short-term goals (next 1-5 years) – career and financial?

Career: I really like what I’m doing, so I’m staying put + mentor young women.

Financial: I’ll be buying more real estate through my corporation.  I have a bunch of properties right now where I’m consolidating them (selling a few to pay off the other few) and have my own house mortgage free. 

[If you want to learn more about funding retirement with rental property income, check out this post from Tracy.]

What are your long-term goals (>5 years) – career and financial?

Career: Work for a non-profit organization +  mentor young women.

Financial: Cutting back on risk so I’ll be actively paying down my rental property mortgages to boost my rental cash flow.

What advice would you give to a high school student interested in pursuing a career in engineering/technology?

Keep your portions open, take whatever class interests you and try and see if you like it enough while studying for the exams.

Volunteer at places after school to test out the career.

For example, if you think you want to be a doctor, volunteer at your local hospital.

Find a mentor and shadow them for a day.  The greatest way to learn!!

Above all, figure out what problems you want to solve or like solving for and see if there’s a career in engineering/technology that can get you there. For example, if you want to find a better way to prevent head injuries bicycling —> maybe you want to pursue a career in biomedical engineering to build better helmets with sensors that optimize fit for peoples heads.

You can check out more about Tracy Ma over at her blog, Financial Nirvana Mama.

Quick Bio on Tracy:

Tracy Ma, Wealth Creator & Lifestyle Builder, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Consultant

I am the founder of Financial Nirvana Mama, a personal finance website that helps you kick ass, and live a ‘Richer’ and fuller life.

I have written for Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Retireby40, Lifehack and featured in Canadian Real Estate Wealth magazine, Rockstar Finance and in Huffington Post.

When I’m not writing on my website, I’m either acting as a mom, consultant, entrepreneur, speaker or real estate investor.  In my spare time, I obstacle race with my family getting muddy —which is super fun.

So if you’re someone who likes to be inspired…

If you’re someone who likes to take action…

If you’re someone who likes to take financial control and always seeking ways to grow your money…

Then Financial Nirvana Mama. Is. For. You.

Connect with me at Financial Nirvana Mama where I share a free beginner’s guide to real estate investing, videos, and articles to help you on your financial journey.