International Women’s Week at ESi

Interview with Kimberly H Thornton, Systems Engineer with ESi for 10 years

– What is your favorite part about working as an engineer?

My favorite part of being an Engineer is researching a problem and trying to find the best option(s) to solve it. The perspective changes but finding the solution is a set of steps that you use similar as in everyday life.

– What advice do you have for young women starting their journey into the tech world?

Sometimes as a woman in this field, we aren’t expected to be good at what we do or even enjoy it. Be willing to come in, be who you are, and be comfortable at being GREAT!

– What is it like to be a woman in tech?

I have enjoyed each moment. I have had the pleasure of working with people who respected my talents in the field and more importantly taught me many skills that I carry in my “skills toolbox” today. 

– What struggles do you endure?

As a woman, I have been asked in meetings to take notes or to wait while someone with less experience spoke. I have learned over the years to have a voice in those meetings and don’t hesitate to take a stance when others try to take it away.

– What are you proud of?

My proudest moment was this. In 2020, at the beginning of closings due to the Coronavirus, I finished my final class and received my Master in Cybersecurity.

– Share a unique experience of your journey through your career path. 

My journey wasn’t “graduate from College as an Engineer and off to the races”. My original path was c++ Development, but I found I enjoyed System Administration much more. I continued many years in System Administration working side by side with Engineers. Many times sharing work with them until what they did became what I did. I became comfortable in that space. I then decided to transition by going back to school to pursue a new interest, Cybersecurity.

– What does it mean to you to be a woman in 2021? 

If you had asked me this question in 2019, it would have been hard to answer.  I never really thought of myself separate from any of my other roles I play everyday – Wife, Mother, daughter, Friend, teacher – whatever my family and friends needed me to be. 2020 gave me time to check in with myself and see the world around me. The family I grew was doing well, staying safe, but all in all, they were fine. The family around me (my Community) was not as good. I had been so busy keeping my head down and “turning the wheel of life”, I missed some things that impacted us all, as humans. Looking at myself as a woman in 2021, I am thankful to have made it through 2020 and I learned more importantly that I need to be aware of and active in my community. 

– What unique hobbies do you have outside of the workplace? 

I don’t think I have any unique hobbies. Something that comes to mind is that I am an aerobics instructor. I have been one since 2008 and have been hooked ever since.

One thing I decided to do last year is to become a Mentor to a 6th Grade girl in Baltimore City. I am still going through the process and hope I am picked. There is so much I think I should pay forward because I had so many people pushing me to be ME as I grew up in the city. This is the least I can do.

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