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Relauncher of the Month

January 2023

Vada Rae Maryol currently works as an Environmental Scientist at N3B, Los Alamos in New Mexico. She relaunched into the Environmental Engineering field after a 10 year career break.

Vada began her career as a Quality Control Technician where she performed quality control analysis on production failures for two product lines and reported findings to the production engineering team. Co- incidentally, this job proved instrumental in her relaunch into her current role. 

After she finished her Masters' degree in Environmental Engineering and Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2019, Vada was ready to relaunch into the environmental industry space. But Covid hit and Vada had to wait some more. In the meantime, she took up a placeholder job that enabled her to get trained into a schedule and a "professional mindset".

Click here to view the one-page profile we compiled to highlight Vada's career path!

Sustainability brings together the things I value most in my life: people, the environment and growth.
My love for microbiology has taken me on a very twisted career path that has allowed me to apply and gain scientific and business knowledge. When I look back now, I am truly grateful for the happenstances that have led to this day while I am working at my dream job.
Link to my blog about sustainability: Issues In Sustainability

We caught up with Vada to dive a little deeper into her relaunch story and the advice she has for other relaunchers...

Transferrable skills  play a very important role in your story. We would love to hear more!

Sure. My first job right out of college was analyzing reams of magnetic data storage tape for defects.🔬 I developed quality control protocols and methods that became standard operating procedures corporate-wide.  That company was involved in a class action lawsuit and there was an instance when I had to print out all emails related to a project. Thanks to that, early on in my career, I learned incredible documenting and organizational skills .

📊 These skills helped me in my next role when I owned a nationally recognized restaurant, which had sales over $900,000. I applied my microbiology knowledge while I wrote and maintained a hazard analysis and critical control plan to be compliant with best practices to reduce the risk of food-borne pathogen transmission. My love for the environment started showing when I ensured that documents need to be compliant with all federal, state, and city labor, safety, and environmental regulations. 

Soon after I found myself staring at a divorce and subsequently a career break. I decided to go back to school and get a Masters degree in Environmental Science 👩🏻‍🎓 as I had gotten very passionate about all things environment. I am glad I took some time to figure things out.
Once I got my degree , Covid hit right after and I quickly realised that I need to change my strategy. I decided to take up a place holder job, a physically demanding job in Costco , absolutely out of my comfort zone to push me to a growth mindset.  I was also actively networking in the hazard waste management industry when one of those referrals landed me my current job. I went into this career fair and emphasized upon my multidisciplinary background that included both business operations and office administration. 

🔁 However, everything truly came full circle for me when the hiring manager was fascinated with my training in sifting through large datasets while analysing those magnetic data storage tapes 20+ years ago at my first job. I was hired immediately. As we speak, I am enroute to creating a database to track over 1400 different hazardous wastes sites across the Los Alamos National Laboratory property and reviewing historical documents. All my skills beautifully weaved together and presented me with this opportunity. 🚀

How important is Mentorship while relaunching in your career? 

I believe it is critical to have a mentor and an ally especially while relaunching in your career. I missed some major opportunities in my life as there was a voice of reason missing in my life. I remember when I was in college, I worked in a soil chemistry lab and I could have explored an opportunity to study further and earn a PhD but I did not follow through. I am the first person in my family to go to college. I did not have the exposure and access. So the only option was to jump in, make mistakes, and figure things out. 

However, I found a lot of support when I was going back to school to get my Masters' degree. All the teachers were very supportive of me going back to the paid workforce and encouraged me in numerous ways so that I could get through the Algebra, Calculus and Statistics classes. I loved the validation and it encouraged me to stay the course, irrespective of how grueling it was. The Math classes were from 8-10 in the morning. And I would stay on that campus working with the professor until probably like 3 in the afternoon. My life for about a year and a half, was nothing but Advanced Math. 

I was determined to return to the workforce and that was the time I also found out about the iRelaunch Facebook Forum. It was great to be able to find support and mentors in vulnerable moments.

What advice would you give to other relaunchers?

❌ Don't say no to any opportunity.  You do not know where it can lead. Even if it's something outside of what you do. Say yes! Do it because you will learn something from that experience and that you can take onto another experience. 

🔍    Transferable skills. Really really focus on your transferable skills.  Write them out, write out your skills.  Don't keep them in your head. 

🌐 Network.  Networking doesn't have to be formal networking events.  It can be, talking to your friends, telling everyone what you are looking for. I have noticed, sometimes it's friends of friends that help more.

🙏🏻 Fall down seven times, stand up eight!

Did this story motivate you or inspire you!?

Do you have a relauncher success story of your own to share with us and the rest of the relauncher community?

Sharing your inevitable success is a great way to give back as your story will inspire and motivate other relaunchers, especially if your story is not the typical story that is told.

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