As a high schooler in St. Kitts, I watched my family’s home go from architectural blueprint to construction and then completion. That experience allowed me to see how; physics and technical drawing (architectural drawing by hand) could come together to result in a tangible, physical engineered structure. After this experience, I considered becoming an architect, but after researching the college curriculum for that degree program, I thought that there were three too many art courses and not enough math or physics. I decided instead to pursue a degree in civil engineering that would bring together my skill in technical drawing, love for math and passion for physics and that was that!
That seems like such a long time ago now, wow!
Today I want to share how I transitioned from a well-planned out career in engineering to money coaching.
Life As An Engineering College Student
Once I moved from St. Kitts to Miami, Florida after high school, I was driven to get into and complete a civil engineering degree program of my choice. Although, I felt confident that I was adequately prepared for the rigors of an undergraduate engineering degree program, balancing a full course load of engineering, math and science classes, while facing various challenges to accessing to financial aid (I share more about that here and the result here) proved to be my greatest struggle.
Still, 5 years later I was able to overcome most of those obstacles and graduate with a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering in 2007 and I went on to complete a master’s of science degree in 2010.
Engineering in Real Life
A new challenge came when I was seeking full-time employment during the Great Recession of 2010. After an 8-month long job search that involved me submitting almost 100 job applications, I finally landed an engineering consultant position. I was so eager start working so that I could finally start the engineering career I had dreamed of and worked hard for, plus I needed to start paying off these student loans.
Starting from my first day of employment, I had a full plate work wise. A few months after I started working in October of 2010, on the day before Christma, I was the lone junior employee in the office when Chief Engineer asked me to make changes to an engineering drawing in order to fulfill a client’s a last minute request. This was a test for me because even though I could do engineering calculations, tests and reports all day, I had never mastered AutoCAD and really had a phobia of it. But I used the knowledge I had and a few text messages to my CAD designer co-worker and got it done.
That’s how much I wanted to soak in all the opportunities of my engineering work life. Even when I knew that AutoCAD was my weakest skill I pushed through and made it happen.
6 years later I would be working as an engineering project manager for a different employer, where I managed multi-million dollar client budgets, negotiating contractor agreement and design, engineering and field construction teams. This is why I went through all this engineering schooling and I was right where I had planned to be. Some of the main functions of an engineering project manager/consultant, is to manage massive construction projects and stay on top of every aspect of the project. You have to communicate with internal project team members, upper management, complete billing and invoicing of your company’s charges to the client, manage and review contractors’ billing to the client, complete site visits plus run revenue projections and formulate budgets both for your employer and clients.
All of this work was tough yet provided the amazing opportunity to learn and I have done just that. But at some point, the drive I had for this career path waned.
From Engineering to Money Coaching
I have been crushing on the #engineerlife since I was a pre-teen, yet I have always had a deep desire to learn and master my own personal finances, especially figuring out how I could build wealth, with $68,000 of debt while playing the role of supporting my immediate and extended family as well as how I could teach others.
My engineering skills and professional experience have helped me tremendously on that parallel path. Engineering economics taught me the time time-value of money and how bonds work. While engineering consulting work gave me the opportunity to apply what I learned from budgeting, tracking and documenting millions of dollars to my own budgeting system and helped me become a trusted resource on managing money, understanding and paying off student loan to my family and personal networks.
At the end of 2015, I had a very challenging year managing everything that was #engineeringlife and my own personal and family life. I asked myself if the career that I had so carefully mapped out, now aligned with the life I truly envisioned living. I dug deep and found the passion for personal finance education that I have always had, just sitting there and decided to start to address the stories (like these share Here, Here and Here) of borrowers’ confusion about their Caribbean student loans. I partnered with Groundation Grenada and M.A.D.E. Grenada and launched a workshop at the University of The Virgin Islands, in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. to educate current students about their Caribbean student loans. With the feedback I got from the workshop, I dug deeper and recognized the gap of personal finance information specifically for Millennial in the Region and the North American Diaspora and launched YourMoneyWorth.com on May 30th, 2016 to serve them.
Founder, Financial Educator & Money Coach
Now that I have transitioned, I would like to take my new intro for a spin, so here goes….
Hi! My name is Melisa Boutin a former Engineering Project Manager, now Certified Financial Education Instructor and Money Coach and paying off debt is my jam!
I am the founder of YourMoneyWorth.com that provides personal finance tools, tips, resources, and coaching to help motivated Millennials, in the Caribbean region and the United States get rid of debt and finally live the life they envision.
Let me know what you think of it!
~ Melisa Boutin