Darice Brayton: All about the experience
How do you know what you don't know?
Darice Brayton (’87, MS ’89) asks this question to people she mentors, including the high school women participating in the SEAS Summer Immersion Program.
She says one of the most important experiences during her Gonzaga engineering education was a research fellowship that she didn't enjoy. "It allowed me to understand what I didn't want to do," Brayton said. "If you can figure out what you don't like, mark it off the list. You don't have to make a career out of it. My fellowship allowed me to realize that the type of person that I am would really not do well in a research environment."
With management's mentorship, Brayton discovered she was the type of person who could thrive as a team leader solving technology problems. She presented several examples from her Tektronix career in microelectronics. The key theme running through her examples was to "figure out who you are and what your passion is."
"As you walk away from this week of experiences, start maybe reflecting upon what were the things that you really liked. And that might be a little nugget of wisdom for you of what you might do next," she said. Remembering the enjoyable aspects helps pull a student through the most challenging parts of a STEM education.
"It's long hours, but it's really rewarding and it's an amazing career,' she said, as long as it connects with your specific interests. "Be authentic and be true to who you are. If I were in a career because I thought that somebody expected me to do it, and it wasn't aligned with my core values or principles, then I think I would have a lot of regret. But I have passion. I have a vision and I have the technical aptitude to do those things. Yeah, work is hard, but work is a whole bunch of fun for me. I'm proud of being able to bring things together," she said.
That sense of pride in accomplishment is also key to getting through rough times.
"Sometimes I think, especially as women, we don't appreciate enough about ourselves. When you've accomplished something or you tried something new, embrace that feeling. That sets you up for success for your next challenge. It builds that resilience; it builds that ability for you to believe in yourself that you can get through things," she said, especially when circumstances can't be controlled.
"Even when people give you bad news, you have to have the tenacity to not take it as 'bad news.' Figure out what's your plan. B, what's your plan C?" Sometimes those backup plans become amazing experiences that show that you know more than you thought you did.