The Power Women of the Wire Harness Industry – Lorena Marinez
This edition of The Power Women of the Wire Harness Industry features Lorena Marinez, an Industrial Engineer who works at Amphenol PCD in Beverly, Massachusetts. Although Lorena grew up in the Bronx, New York, her path to working as an engineer on the US East Coast was a convoluted one that took her out of the country for college. She was determined to return to the US, but faced a unique challenge in finding a position from another continent.
Lorena was born in the United States, where she attended elementary and secondary school. Her mother worked as a babysitter and was a stay-at-home mom while her dad owned two grocery stores in the Bronx. She did not derive from engineers nor does she recall having much STEM exposure in primary school. However, she first gained interest in engineering during middle school once she realized the neat activities that her cousin was working on as an engineer at a makeup company. At the time, her cousin was working on process improvements primarily aimed at increasing efficiency. Later in high school, Lorena contemplated being a veterinarian, considering engineering as her alternative plan.
After attending school in New York, Lorena’s family moved from the Bronx to the Dominican Republic when Lorena was 17 years of age. She and her younger sister relocated with the family to their retirement home, while Lorena’s brother stayed in the USA as he was already attending college. Initially, Lorena did not prefer to move. She was a Junior in high school at the time. She was able to speak and write in Spanish, but assimilating in to a new environment left her lost for a while. Lorena finished her secondary education in The Dominican Republic. She specifically remembers one day when the school had visitors. One of the speakers, an Industrial Engineer, spoke interestingly of her profession and influenced Lorena to again consider engineering as a career. Lorena was not intrigued by going to college in the Dominican Republic because her mindset was on moving as quickly as possible back to the USA. However, since she lost her opportunities for US scholarships once she moved, she finally opted to attend the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic.
Lorena chose to major in Industrial Engineering. During her first year of the program, she toured a cement plant and a beer manufacturer. After those visits, she knew that she was destined to work in a manufacturing company in the area of quality. In college, Lorena advised that only about 10% of the engineering program population was comprised of females, though there were more females in Industrial Engineering than the other engineering disciplines. The instructors were male. She and the other females often studied together. They shared a common sentiment—they all felt like had to prove that they deserved to be included in the program. During college, Lorena worked at a call center for a company that made credit card machines, Datavimenca. Post college, she remained at the company as a Quality Supervisor. However, she was looking for something a little different.
Lorena decided to start a job search in The United States of America, particularly in New York and Massachusetts since she had nearby family. At times, she was interested in an opportunity but the hiring company would not conduct a video-conference interview. Since she could not afford to travel for each interview, she missed some potential opportunities of interest. She was finally able to schedule multiple interviews during one week, which better justified her travel expenses. As a result of that week’s visits, she was offered two jobs—one with Amphenol in MA and the other in NY. She opted to work at Amphenol even though she had only one contact in the state.
At Amphenol, Lorena started as a Quality Engineer. One of her main initial points of contact was another female Quality Engineer who was a strong, positive influence for Lorena. Others with whom she interfaced were also supportive and welcoming. After 1 ½ years with the company, Lorena became a Manufacturing Engineer in the cable area. In her first years, Amphenol intends to introduce her to various departments where she can gain exposure and experience.
Lorena mentioned that during her time in the Dominican Republic, she often attended school after her work day. In the office, she dressed professionally in skirts that were minimally of knee length. Then, she had to carry heavy books and sometimes cement blocks while in her work attire. At times, her walk invoked comments from not only students but also a professor who teased her that ‘one of the men could carry the block’ for her. At times like these, she recognized that women faced inimitable challenges. Also in terms of obstacles, she struggled to find a job in the USA from outside of the country. When interviewed, some businesses were afraid to hire her because they did not understand the college system outside of the United States and were concerned that her university degree may not have been accredited or on par with degrees granted by US universities.
When I asked Lorena what advice she would provide to females considering a career in engineering, she stresses that they need to be dedicated because engineering is a little difficult. However, the career is satisfying and one in which she gained so much knowledge. She suggests that the individual find her tribe because it’s more enjoyable and easier to travel the engineering journey with others.
Thank you, Lorena, for sharing your story.
If you are interested in sharing the stories but missed the original WHN distribution, the articles are available on the Jana Diversity Solutions web- site at www.janadiversity.com, or at wiringharnessnews.com.
If you know a female engineer who would make a great candidate to feature in the Power Women series, please direct them to me at melissa. [email protected]