Do it! You’ll love it. There are so many avenues you can take in the STEM field. More and more roles are getting added all the time as technology and new ideas expand.
Who is Kayla Jordan?
I was born and raised on the Eastside of Detroit, MI. From an early age, I was very good at science, mathematics, and art. I was always curious and wanting to learn more about the world around me. I studied at Cass Technical High School’s Science and Arts curriculum and graduated in 2010. After some thought, I decided to pursue a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Wayne State University. I am currently pursuing my MBA at WSU, graduating in 2020. I had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries during my studies, including renewable energy research, military, utility, automotive safety, automotive manufacturing, and audio engineering. I am an active National Society of Black Engineers member and currently hold a position as 2019-2020 National Public Relations Chair.
I work with OEM customers to ensure that from breadboard to mass production that our amplifiers and speakers as a sound system function as expected. It mostly involves software interactions but can also involve mechanical, industrial and quality engineering aspects.
How did you choose this field?
I’ve always liked science and computers. I watched a lot of the Discovery and Science channels (still do) and was always fascinated by watching how things such as cars, computers, buildings came together as a whole. Realizing that most of what we use was designed by engineers, I thought it would be a great field for me as I am a natural problem-solver.
Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?
My inspiration came from many people, mostly family. They did not exactly state that I should go into engineering, however, they recognized my math and science skills. Once I made the decision to go into the field, they supported me the entire way.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?
I always had the desire to work as an engineer. I had considered studying biomedical engineering as an undergraduate student, but decided that electrical would be the best fit for the time being due to accreditation restraints. I have not switched careers since I have graduated.
What do you love most about your job or career?
I drive a lot for work and am a big music lover, so I think it’s always amazing to know that there is so much going on between you selecting your favorite track and the sound finally coming to your ears. The amount of computer processing power that occurs to make music sound good is astounding.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is when I identify what is causing the sound system to not sound “good”, reworking it by means of software, new speaker, amp, etc., and people’s faces lighting up when the bad noise goes away. Many people in the audio industry love music, so when I come to save the day, it’s always a good feeling knowing that that person’s car will sound right again.
What has been the most difficult or disappointing aspect of your job?
What things would you want to see changed about your current field of study or job?
I would change certain processes about how information is documented. Word of mouth kills future progress because unless you remember exactly what was stated and when, there’s a lot of backtracking that can occur in order to solve the same problem that happened only 2 years ago.
What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?
I would suggest networking before, during and after undergrad. I have spoken with and know some very amazing people in my profession. Seeing them in action always gives me the boost I need to have the mentality of, “if they can do it and look like me, I can do it too.”
How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?
I speak my mind when I feel strongly about something. WOC’s are viewed that they should just be quiet unless spoken to, and acting out that bias does not make the stigma go away. You can be quiet or you can be vocal, and still be judged either way. My thought process as a WOC is if I am speaking about a topic, it matters to me, and it should matter to you.
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?
I would advise my younger self to stand up more for myself. The things I wanted, such as more work for growth, a pay raise, would not occur if my hands and mouth were closed. White males are aggressive all the time and advocating for themselves. I deserve the same things and should not let color or gender be the definitive obstacle.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?
What is your favorite quote?
What I know for sure is that whatever your situation is right now, you have played a major role in creating it. With every experience, you build your life, thought by thought, choice by choice. And beneath each of those thoughts and choices lies your deepest intention. That’s why, before I make any decision, I ask myself one critical question: What is my real intention?” — Oprah, “What I Know For Sure”
Whatever new skill I want to learn, destination I want to visit, growth I want for myself, I ask myself, “why do I want to do it and is it worth it?” I found often I would do things just to make someone happy because they thought it would make me happy. I try to evaluate better if a path I want to take is really for myself because I see the value in it for me.
How has your family been a great influence or support system?
My mother has always encouraged me to be myself and work hard. She listened (and still listens) to me rant about personal issues and where I want to go as an adult. My brother, aunts and uncle have always made me laugh whenever I felt I was substandard compared to my white male counterparts and needed an emotional boost.
What are your future goals related to your career?
I would like to work in the medical industry, traveling as a engineering spokesperson or perhaps a Director of Marketing. If I can see the world and talk about products that I believe are amazing while all on a company’s dime, that would be dope.
@themelanatedbudget (budgeting platform I created)
@shetoostem (co-host with two other black female engineers)
Contact Kayla for any further questions: