This is a guest blog entry written by Beatriz Sousa If you want to read more stories, visit viterbiadmission.usc.edu/latinxlives.
Hi! I’m Beatriz Sousa, a 2020 graduate with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil and moved to Redmond, WA when I was a couple months old. I currently work at Keysight Technologies as a Solutions Marketing Engineer and here’s the story about how I got to where I am.
From my first day to the last day of my last course, I knew that I was not a typical engineering student. In high school, I spent every second of my free time playing drums. From marching bands to a holiday toy drummer show at the local mall. My hardest classes in high school were math and physics and that reflected in my AP scores (which I still find hilarious. How did I manage to get into an engineering program with such bad scores?). Hearing all this you might ask, “why did you choose to study engineering in college if your background didn’t lean toward it?” And that’s an excellent question and is something I was continuously asked during my time at USC.
”You’re probably still asking, “Why did you choose to study engineering if your background didn’t lean toward it?” And to that I answer, sure, I probably chose to study engineering for the wrong reasons and didn’t put as much thought into choosing my major as I should have. But, I became more than just an engineer, I discovered who I was and my passions because I chose to do engineering and I would never trade that experience for anything else.
At USC, I was a decent student. I got good grades, but I struggled in my heavily-technical classes. When I first started looking for internships, recruiters would always ask me “Why haven’t you joined a design team?” or “I see you’ve spent a lot of your time outside of class doing non-technical work, what have you done technically?”. Most of the time, I would get extremely frustrated with these questions. Why couldn’t they accept that I wasn’t someone who was super focused on my technical abilities? I took on 2 research jobs during my first 2 years to try to make myself “fit in” and that was one of my worst decisions. I tried to make myself seem like someone that I wasn’t and that started leading me toward a future that I didn’t want. And that’s when a switch clicked in my mind. I had listened to what everyone else had told me what I should be and what I should be doing, that I had completely pushed my own identity out of who I was.
I like to say I took the best parts of high-school-me and put them in the USC environment. I became really involved in concert photography, was a member of the marching band. and the women’s ice hockey team. In engineering clubs, I always took on roles that focused on marketing and just trying to make the member’s experiences fun. I began to create my own identity at USC where I felt comfortable with myself and my passions began to shine.
It was an extremely hard 4 years of college trying to find a role that wasn’t your typical engineering role and fit my interests. I always felt out of place. It was so hard to find roles that allowed me to use my technical knowledge while not doing truly technical work. I knew that I brought a unique skill set to the table, I just needed an opportunity to come my way. And it did. I received a LinkedIn message concerning the role I am currently in and I knew that finally someone had seen me for me and realized the potential that I could bring.
You’re probably still asking, “Why did you choose to study engineering if your background didn’t lean toward it?” And to that I answer, sure, I probably chose to study engineering for the wrong reasons and didn’t put as much thought into choosing my major as I should have. But, I became more than just an engineer, I discovered who I was and my passions because I chose to do engineering and I would never trade that experience for anything else.