25 October 2023

Embracing Change Beyond the Comfort Zone

I was born in Zapopan, a vibrant city located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, the land of Mariachi and Tequila. However, I did not grow up there. Back then, due to my parents’ job, we moved from one city to another very frequently until we established in Mexico City for almost six years. 

I am the youngest of three siblings. My father, a native of Mexico City, grew up in a big household with 11 siblings. My childhood was filled with numerous cousins, leading to endless days of play and a variety of outdoor activities. My family lived close to each other; aside from having the opportunity of playing with my cousins as a kid, I grew up observing my parents, uncles and aunts mastering various skills. They were self-taught woodworkers, welders, builders, cooks and more. Their talents inspired me after we relocated to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, the city of mountains, which I proudly call my hometown today.

Transitioning to a new city as a child, I did not have difficulties making new friends. However, I missed having family around to play with or share moments. The time to myself allowed me to explore my creativity in many ways. I loved crafting, using materials that could be molded, sheared or bonded together. Whether it was designing scale houses, bridges and cars, or pinballs and marble tracks out of cardboard, sticks and hot glue. What began as child's play gradually evolved. My father introduced me to Legos, and it became an obsession. After that, I took several art classes making sculptures and hand crafts, always having this feeling of mastering new and different skills.

During my years in middle school in Monterrey, the idea of becoming a construction worker started growing in my mind. I identified with the craftsmen that were building new houses around the block of my new neighborhood. My friends and I would often sneak into these construction sites, to play and build ramps and tracks for our bicycles. All the messiness that you could see in a construction site looked like the mess I made while crafting.  However, once I was introduced to Architecture and the minds behind the design of construction, it was all I could think about. 

Throughout my childhood, I gradually recognized the significance of Math. My mathematical abilities were lacking as a kid; I always had to request additional help to understand new concepts. Over time, conquering this challenge became a personal goal, leading me to prioritize mathematics. By the time I completed high school, my grades had significantly improved, affording me the chance to take part in two interstate math Olympics. Although I did not win anything, it felt good just to be part of it.

Due to my interest in construction, architecture and mathematics, the logical next steps were to pursue a career path in becoming an engineer, specifically a Civil Engineer. My college years were great. I really liked the fact that as a civil engineer you get the chance to learn a variety of skills—hydraulics, hydrology, steel and concrete structures, highway design, geotechnics, project management and more. During this time, I began wanting more. From co-owning a bartending business to teaching mathematics to high school students, my plate was always full. I also had the privilege to study abroad in Cáceres, Spain, for half a year. That experience opened my eyes to the significance of discovering the world and the importance of adaptability. 

The idea of traveling internationally as a professional intrigued me after a teacher emphasized the accessibility of working globally and the unique certification processes for engineers in different countries. That is when he told us about the Engineer-In-Training (EIT) and Professional Engineer (PE) certifications in the United States. True to form, this became a new challenge and my next objective, to be an EIT before I graduated from college.

One week before my graduation date, I took the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during the pandemic in December 2020. Two months later, I received my EIT diploma and had my first job in Monterrey at a local Project Management firm where I was involved in a great project for the construction of a 20-story commercial and residential apartment building with six underground levels of parking. Despite the immense learning, the organizational culture left much to be desired.

After a tough decision, I started looking for a job in the USA. Having attended bi-lingual schools my entire life, I was not concerned about a language barrier. I was most concerned about the change of units in the professional field. Mentally changing from meters to feet, kilometers to miles and hectares to acres was something to consider. While looking for an opportunity in the USA I realized that I could go international without being geographically too far away from home. Because of this, Texas became the ideal destination. In my search for companies to apply for, I came across EHRA Engineering and got the job. The process of moving to another country had begun. I quit my job, got my work visa and moved to Houston, Texas. Fast-forward nine months I got married to my girlfriend and she moved in with me. 

I have been part of the best District Services Team for the last year and a half. It has been an amazing experience so far. I feel lucky to have found a place with a great and respectful working environment where people like to help one another. At the beginning, I felt overwhelmed with all the unfamiliar guidelines and construction systems, but with help from my coworkers and area leaders I found myself understanding and enjoying every project that came along. Every new project in District Services represents a different challenge that I am willing to solve with the help of my team.

Relocating from the comfort and familiarity of your hometown to a new country can be a challenging and emotional experience. The process might involve dealing with a mix of emotions, going from excitement to anxiety. However, it is essential to remember that with a positive mindset, looking ahead to the future and consistently staying true to your personal goals and objectives, the journey can become immensely rewarding. Over time, the initial struggles will give way to new opportunities and experiences, making every challenge faced along the way well worth it.