Honoring TDS’ engineers on Women in Engineering Day

Engineers make the world go ‘round. Not literally, but they do change our lives for the better. At TDS, this is especially true. Today, June 23, is International Women in Engineering Day, a day to celebrate the work and successes of females in this critical industry. TDS is proud to honor the women who support our thriving company. We are proud to introduce you to six women in engineering at TDS.

Kristin, principal software engineer

Kristin has worked at TDS for 14 years.

What do you do at TDS?

I am responsible for a wide range of tasks in the software development life cycle. This includes everything from small bug fixes to code reviews to acting as a tech lead on large projects.

What sparked your interest in the engineering field?

In high school, I took a programming class and found that I really enjoyed putting the code together. Making sure things happen in the right order and at the right time is the fun part for me.

What inspires you about engineering?

I like that a group of people can start with an idea and figure out how to make it happen using a mix of things you have on hand and things you create from scratch. Each step in the process is a little more exciting than the last. Plus, there’s always something new to build and learn.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?

People think that because I’m a software engineer, I must like computers. The truth is that I really don’t love them in the way that people expect. For me, it’s all about solving the overall problems, rather than specific hardware or technologies.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering?

Even if you don’t love math or science, there are still opportunities to use your skills. For example, I think there’s a great need for people who can bridge the communication gap between technical and non-technical people. Figure out your skills and which parts of your job you enjoy. Do your best to grow in those areas and take opportunities when they arise.

Kelly, director of Network Construction

Kelly has worked at TDS for 24 years, holding a total of 11 positions.

What do you do at TDS?

I am responsible for construction projects to support wireline and cable market initiatives. I am also responsible for the A-CAM, Broadband Wireline, and Broadband Grants programs.

What inspires you about your job?

My co-workers are passionate about what they do. They are willing to learn what is needed to get the job done right. I love being part of a team that encourages each other and readily shares their knowledge to help others understand.

How has a career in the engineering industry shaped you as a woman?

Being in a career that is still male dominated has given me confidence. Early in my career, I felt like more eyes were on me as the single female in a group of men. I didn’t want to ask a “dumb” question and have people discount my knowledge or value in the discussion. As time went on, my knowledge grew and so did my confidence. I’ve proven to myself and others that I know what I’m doing. And if I don’t, I’m no longer intimidated to say, “I’m not familiar with that, can you tell me more?”

What is it like being a woman in the engineering industry?

While it has improved, it still has its hurdles. Occasionally, I hear that I’m being too emotional. I used to take offence and question if my actions were wrong. Now, I fire back if I feel there is a double standard.

How do you think the perception of engineering being a man’s career can be changed?

Having a man validate a female engineer’s role, knowledge, and positive contribution to the job in a group setting has a huge impact on how others view that female. Very early in my technical career, I was fortunate to have a male manager who stood up for me when my qualifications were challenged because of my gender. It spoke volumes to my team and my manager’s peers.

Melissa, network specialist II

Melissa has worked at TDS since 2015.

What do you do at TDS?

I am currently the out of territory (OOT) team lead for colocation, where I support aerial plant construction. My team and I do this by reviewing the aerial design provided by our partnered contractors to see if it meets the pole owner requirements and the pole viability standards set up by COLO and TDS.

What’s the best part of your job?

I love the challenge that my job brings every day. I get to interact with a variety of amazing people who continue to help me learn and grow, as a person and professionally.

How has a career in the engineering industry shaped you as a woman?

It has given me the confidence to do things I didn’t think I was capable of. It has allowed me to step into myself and embrace all that is unique about me, which gives me the ability to actively search new learning opportunities.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering?

Go for it! The engineering field is wide open to women right now. We can show that we are just as capable as others. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities! It takes a smart woman to get an engineering degree, so you already have what it takes to succeed.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I currently love what I do on the OOT team and I gain new knowledge on a regular basis. I hope to continue to learn, lead, and grow with this group of remarkable people. TDS’ future is bright so that means mine is too.

Terri, manager of Outside Plant Engineering and Construction

Terri has worked at TDS for 27 years in a variety of positions.

What do you do at TDS?

I oversee construction projects throughout the build process to ensure completion is on time and within budget. This includes quality inspection, collaborating with contractors, and providing leadership to outside plant construction personnel throughout the eastern part of the U.S.

What guides you to success in your job?  

I do the best I can each day. I support my team and follow through on my commitments. When I don’t have the answer, I admit it and go find it!

How has a career in the engineering industry shaped you as a woman?

I am more confident, which is something I have struggled with at times. I now know that even when I step out of my comfort zone, I’ll be okay.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering? 

My biggest hurdle seemed to be myself sometimes, so don’t let that happen. Be confident, be willing to take a risk and pursue something that genuinely interests you. Find a mentor or “cheerleader” who won’t make things happen for you, but who will help you believe in yourself enough so you can make it happen.

How do you think the perception of engineering being a man’s career can be changed?

I believe it has already changed in some ways. Thinking back to when I started at TDS, there were very few women in Network Services compared to today. I also believe that we still have room for improvement. It truly needs to start at the middle and high school level where career conversations begin. A career should be chosen based on strengths and interests, regardless of gender.

Noelle, manager of Colocation

Noelle has worked at TDS for nine years in several different areas of the company.

What do you do at TDS?

I am responsible for the management of TDS associates and/or consultants who are responsible for planning, coordinating, and supervising colocation/joint activities in multiple locations and states.

What inspires you about your job?

As cliché as it is, being a leader allows me to give someone a chance. When I started in direct sales with TDS, I was inexperienced. However, I was given an opportunity and ran with it. Now, as a leader myself, I can encourage associates to take advantage of opportunities within TDS, grow personally and professionally, and be excited about what we do.

What are you most proud of?

I am extremely proud and grateful to have been a part of TDS Telecom University (TDS-U) in 2019. Even though I left the program early, I would not be in my current role without the experience and support I received in TDS-U.

Has being a woman in engineering empowered you in any way?

TDS empowers all associates and working in engineering has been no different. I have had exceptional leaders who have encouraged me to use my voice and made me feel heard.

Do you think the perception of engineering being a man’s career is changing?

Absolutely! If you were to look at TDS as an outsider, you would see all the opportunities available to women. The more we work together and build each other up, the more women will join us.

Kallie, network specialist

Kallie has worked at TDS for 2.5 years.

What do you do at TDS?

I primarily work as the outside plant engineer on CAA (Customer Appreciation Analysis) projects. When we get a commercial sale, I design and price out the best solution of how to get fiber from our existing plant to the customer’s location.

What sparked your interest in the engineering field?

My interest in geography, especially how people interact with a place, first sparked my interest. City infrastructure dramatically impacts how people live and interact within their environment. Being able to have an impact on that interaction, no matter how small, is immensely interesting to me.

What’s the best part of your job?

There is always something new to learn and new challenges to solve. It’s fun to see how I can use different techniques to come up with the best solution for each new task put before me.

How has a career in the engineering industry shaped you as a woman?

In my anthropology classes, I learned that there is often a cultural perception (whether it be conscious or not) for women to take up less space than men. Being in a position where I am responsible for the outcome of projects has pushed me to make more space for my ideas and thoughts within society.

Do you think the perception of engineering being a man’s career is changing?

Definitely, and I think TDS has played a part in this. I do not feel like my gender limits my growth at this company as I see women thriving in this environment every day. I hope that TDS continues to hire more women on the engineering and construction teams. As more women enter these roles, we are able to break down the idea that this is a man’s field and redefine what being an engineer looks like—hopefully inspiring more females to join.

We are thankful for all the females who support the engineering efforts at TDS and around the world. Today, we celebrate you!


By Hannah Drewieck, TDS Communications Intern

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