Unexpected challenge leads to rewarding career

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Courtesy photo Susan Hoose faced unexpected challenges and found a new and rewarding career in the process.

KENNEWICK — Susan Hoose had to deal with challenges she didn’t expect. So she did.

She didn’t plan to be a single mom, but she was, and “I realized I needed an education.” So “as a single mom, I started going to school.”

But first, she said, she looked around at her options.

During that search she remembered an old job, and the possibilities that came with a career in manufacturing. That led her to the Industrial Systems Technology program at Big Bend Community College.

The program teaches graduates how to analyze industrial systems, and how to fix them when something goes wrong. “We’re troubleshooting pieces of equipment.” After graduation in 2009, Hoose focused on electrical systems.

It’s not an option most women think about when choosing a career, “and it should be. They should consider every path. Because every path is open to them,” Hoose said. She looked at what would make a satisfactory career, she said, and where those careers could take her in the future.

While careers in industry or construction can look intimidating, they’re a natural fit for women, she said. “We’re more analytical thinkers. We’re multi-taskers.”

She started at Pierce College, she said, then transferred to BBCC. “I realized I’d made a really good choice. Their program (at BBCC) is just fantastic.” She had trouble in one of her English classes, she said, and “they brought a tutor in for me. I didn’t even have to pay her.”

While she was in school she was awarded an internship at Basic American Foods. “That is something that really helped me.” The internship allowed her to get on the job experience, she said, and she was offered a job there after graduation.

But she got a better offer from REC Silicon. “It was more of a challenge.” While working there she was assigned to a unit building a new facility in Moses Lake.

That was enjoyable as well as challenging. She was part of the group that checked to see components were installed correctly and were working right once they were installed.

But she wanted to keep advancing, she said, and advancement meant some experience in sales and management. So she took a job with a company – a shop, really, she said – that sold electrical equipment. In three years the staff had “turned their little shop into a store,” with annual sales of about $850,000 per year.

With management experience, she moved on to a new job at Lamb-Weston, she said, where she works now. “I’m the electrical (system) supervisor for the Richland plant.”

Along the way her salary has grown – which is customary for people with manufacturing technical degrees, she said. “It’s going to happen.”

The lesson she’s taking away from her career, she said, is that there’s opportunity out there. “No matter what, there’s a path for you. You just have to reach out and grab it.”

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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