From Teacher to Geodetic Orbit Scientist: How Laraine Love’s Math Career Brought Her to NGA
After a year of teaching secondary math, Laraine Love realized it wasn't the career for her.
"It wasn't challenging for me in the right ways," she says. "It was challenging in some of the wrong ways."
One of those ways was the fact that teaching is a role designed around one person's expertise, and Laraine wanted to be closer to the expertise of others so that she could deepen her own.
"I have always firmly believed and loved the quote that if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room," says Laraine, who transitioned from teaching into a master's in applied mathematics, and then from that degree into a role as a geodetic orbit scientist at NGA, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
"At NGA, I'm never going to be the smartest person in the room. And in fact, I hope I'm not. I love that I get to spend the next 30 years growing and going into rooms filled with knowledge beyond my capacity to even understand right now. It's amazing," she says.
We sat down with Laraine to learn more about her career transition, how she figured out what geomatics actually entails, and how other women can lean on STEM skills to successfully transition into the field.
A focused pivot
Laraine studied math in undergrad because she loved it, and added on a teaching license because she loved teaching, too. And while she found certain aspects of being in the classroom rewarding and wonderful, she knew she had to make a change.
"I did quite a bit of research on what you could do with a math degree, and I'd always been passionate about patriotism," explains Laraine. When she realized there was a big need for math (and physics and computer science and engineering) at the Department of Defense and agencies like NGA, she decided to go for her applied math master's and focus specifically on projects that would set her up well to work in the defense field.
After studying mathematical modeling and turbulence modeling, and networking with professors and alumni during her master's, Laraine found herself with an offer to work at NGA.
"I sought out NGA on my own," she explains. "Every single person I had talked to said, 'If you get a job here, you'll never leave.' They said it was a great place to not just start your career, but build your career and stay there. It was the longevity that really appealed to me, especially after being in a career that I was unhappy with."
Hearing others talk about NGA made Laraine sure that she had made the right call in leaving the classroom for the agency. "It was really, really calming for me to be going into a place that so many people spoke so highly of. And more than anything, the work was very obviously purposeful and everyone was extremely passionate about what they were doing. And you can't say that about many places that you get to work," says Laraine. "I'm pretty lucky!"
Since she joined NGA 18 months ago, Laraine has only confirmed her decision. "NGA does a really good job of setting [people] up for success," she explains, citing the classes she's been able to take, the networking and relationship-building they've allowed for, and the opportunities she's been given to attend conferences and do more specialized training.
A crash course in geomatics
While Laraine certainly knew her way around a math problem when she arrived at NGA, the specific field of geomatics was new to her.
"I've learned everything from square one since coming here a year and a half ago," she says. "It can be learned!"
She explains the field like this: "It's about earth modeling and creating a reference frame that is accurate." Her team releases GPS-based products to the DOD and the intelligence and scientific communities to support precise position, navigation, and timing. "Geomatics is the foundation that builds towards that point—we're one piece on the big puzzle of 'where,'" says Laraine.
She compares it with GIS, another NGA product area that we've covered on this blog before, by explaining that "geomatics is the big overlapping reference frame, and GIS is more specialized—it's adding interactivity with the map, it's adding more layers."
Laraine's specific focus is on maintaining GPS collection stations, monitoring real-time data flow, and communicating with NGA's global partners.
"It's about taking charge when you need to take charge, getting your projects done, and answering the needs of the day," she explains. "A lot of that is exactly what a teacher does, so ironically enough, I use a lot of the same skills on a daily basis. It's just a totally different audience, so it's catered a different way."
Leaning on STEM skills
Laraine is an example of someone from a STEM, but not a geospatial, background finding success at NGA, and she knows the same would be true for other people. "I really think any STEM degree would be a great fit, if the person was passionate about our mission," she explains.
Specifically, these are the following skills Laraine sees as prerequisites for success at NGA:
- Critical thinking
- Familiarity with different coding languages
- Time management
- Confidence: "This is the biggest one for women in STEM," adds Laraine, "just having that confidence to take initiative. Volunteering for that project, speaking up in that meeting, sitting at the table, not on the side by the wall."
- Comfort with acronyms! "It's a fire hose when you first get here. You have to learn a ton of acronyms," says Laraine, smiling. "It's a different language!"
Laraine is excited about the opportunity to not just use the skills that qualified her for the job, but to work on deepening and improving them and continuing to serve her team and her country.
"What's going to make me feel good at the end of the day, no matter if I have a good or bad day at work, is knowing that everything I'm doing is towards our mission. It's purposeful. It's creating products that impact the entire world on a daily basis. That, to me, is an absolute honor," she says. "I hope I never take for granted the honor it is to get to go to work with the people I work with and succeed at the mission that we put forth every day."
10 Full-Time Roles You Can Do Remotely!
Work-from-home jobs sometimes get a bad reputation: low pay, repetitive work, micromanagement... the list goes on. But if one good thing has come out of the pandemic, it's that it's redefined working from home. Remote work has come a long way, and the opportunities to work from home in 2022 are more promising than ever before.
If you're like me, and freelance, task-oriented remote jobs like article writing, data entry, transcription, or professional survey taking (yep, that exists), aren't your thing - don't worry. There are more full-time remote opportunities than ever before that offer you the freedom to manage your own time, the security of consistent monthly income, the support of a team, and the promise of growth. In fact, we've got over 5,000 on PowerToFly.
So, if you're looking for a remote opportunity in 2022 that will push you to develop professionally, look no further than our list of the 10 best work-from-home jobs. And by best, we mean fun, challenging roles that will help you grow, while making a respectable income.
All the jobs listed have average salaries between 45 and 119k, and have average or higher-than-average growth potential (based off of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' predictions for growth from 2018 to 2028 and/or LinkedIn's 2020 Emerging Jobs Report).
10 Best Work-From-Home (Remote) Jobs for 2022
Jobs sorted from highest to lowest average salary. (Salary data taken from ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and/or the U.S. BLS depending on availability and specificity to remote roles.)
1. Data Scientist
Who It's Good For: Detail-oriented stats masters skilled at identifying and understanding trends.
Why You Can Do It Remotely: With more data than ever before at our fingertips, companies know the value of hiring folks who know "big data" as more than just a buzzword. True stats buffs are hard to come by, so expertise often outweighs location.
Growth 2018-2028: 33%
Average Annual Salary: $114,000
2. Software Developer/Engineer
Who It's Good For: Self-directed (and disciplined) coding enthusiasts who love problem solving and having the freedom to work whenever they feel most focused.
Sound Like You? Check Out: 5,500+ Software Developer/Engineer jobs on PowerToFly and be sure to check out this Q&A with software engineer, Kasey Champion to learn about her experience working at a fully remote company and get her tips for acing technical interviews!)
Why It Can Be Done Remotely: Arguably, not only can programming be done remotely - it should be! Why? Writing code requires undisturbed blocks of time rarely found in traditional workplaces.
As computer scientist and entrepreneur Paul Graham observed in his essay on makers' vs. managers' schedules:
" Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule...But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started."
Office culture was designed with managers' schedules in mind, and thus makes adhering to a maker's schedule extremely difficult. Remote work, alternatively, is much more conducive to this. After all, it's a lot easier to snooze your Slack notifications than it is to ignore your boss literally hovering over your shoulder.
Growth for 2018-2028: 22%
Average Annual Salary: $114,000
3. Designer (Web, Graphic, Product, or UI/UX)
Who It's Good For: Designers who do their best work independently or from the comfort of their own home.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote Design Roles
Why You Can Do It Remotely: No doubt there's value in brainstorming with your team, but once you know the needs of a project, most design work can be done independently and then shared. With tools like Zoom, Jira, and Slack, it's easier than ever before to share your work, get feedback, and hit deadlines. (And, like programmers/developers, designers are also more likely to benefit from a maker's schedule!)
Average Annual Salary (for UX Design): $89,000
Average Median Salary (for Graphic Design): $50,000 in 2021, according to data from Indeed
4. Product Manager
Who It's Good For: Anyone who loves big-picture strategy and building products that users will love.
(If you enjoy more nitty-gritty task oversight, consider project management instead — both roles can be done remotely! You can learn more about the differences between the two PM roles here.)
Why You Can Do It Remotely: As more and more software engineers and other tech professionals work remotely, it only makes sense that the PMs coordinating with them work remotely. If you're a virtual communication wiz comfortable communicating online and using tools like Zoom, GitHub, Jyra, Slack, and Asana (the list goes on...), then you're all set!
Annual Growth: 24%*
*Based on expected growth for Product Owner from LinkedIn's in demand jobs report. The BLS doesn't currently track growth specifically for Product Manager positions.
Average Annual Salary: $95,000
5. Workplace Diversity Expert
Who It's Good For: HR professionals or creative and strategic individuals who has experience developing and implementing diversity initiatives and strategies.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote DEI Expert Jobs
Why You Can Do It Remotely: DEI experts work closely with every team in an organization organization. They can ensure that diversity agendas are successfully implemented and in line with businesses objectives for everyone, hybrid and remote teams included.
Growth for 2018-2028: 56%*
*Based on expected growth for Indeed's Career Guide. The BLS doesn't currently track growth specifically for DEI positions.
Average Annual Salary: $86,000
6. Technical Writer
Who It's Good For: Top-notch communicators (writers) who can explain complex topics succinctly and clearly. (It's helpful if you have expertise in at least one technical subject.)
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote Technical Writer Jobs
Why It Can Be Done Remotely: Like programmers, technical writers are makers - they need large, undisturbed blocks of time to create content. Technology and the nature of remote work can help ensure writers are able to communicate efficiently with their teams and organize meetings when they'll be constructive, not distracting.
Growth for 2018-2028: 12%
Average Annual Salary: $57,000
7. Customer Success Manager
Who It's Good For: Good communicators who love helping others and problem-solving.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote Customer Success Roles
Why It Can Be Done Remotely: Most customer service needs can be met over the phone and online. With a computer and good internet connection (and enough patience), you can handle all your customers' needs from wherever you are.
Growth for 2020: 25% annual growth rate (The BLS doesn't share data specific to customer success, but thanks to the growth of SaaS, Customer Success Specialist made LinkedIn's 2020 list of the top 15 in demand jobs)
Average Annual Salary: $58,000
8. Marketing Manager
Who It's Good For: Folks who are equal parts creative and analytical.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote Marketing Manager Jobs on PowerToFly
Why You Can Do It Remotely: Analyzing industry trends and crafting strategy can be done from anywhere. And with teams becoming more and more spread out, you can coordinate cross-functionally with sales people, engineers, and more using Zoom, Slack, and other online tools.
Growth for 2018-2028: 10%
Average Annual Salary: $63,000 (according to data for remote professionals from Indeed)
Average Median Salary: $141,490 in 2020, according to the U.S. BLS (not specific to remote roles)
Who It's Good For: A people-person skilled in market research, project/time management, and negotiation.
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote Recruiting Roles
Why You Can Do It Remotely: As remote work takes off and fully remote teams become more common, it only makes sense that recruiters at these companies would be remote as well. Although recruiting saw a dip at the start of the pandemic, the number of remote recruiting roles is steadily increasing as companies ramp back up their hiring goals—we have hundreds of open remote recruiter roles on PowerToFly!
Growth for 2018-2028: 10%
Average Annual Salary: $50,000
10. Sales Development Representative
Who It's Good For: A self-starter with previous experience or an interest in Sales, or anyone who's just starting out and eager to prove themselves!
Sound Like You? Check Out: Remote SDR Roles
Why You Can Do It Remotely: You don't need to be in a particular location to make sales calls, deliver pitches, send follow-up emails, or manage your sales team. And if you have to fly from an office to meet a client, you can just as easily fly from your hometown.
Growth for 2018-2028: 7%
Median Annual Salary for SDRs: $64,000
Interested in one of the roles above? Check out these resources for landing your dream remote job and get ready to reap the full benefits of remote work in 2022— doing what you like, where you like. Good luck!
[A version of this article was originally published on Dec. 19, 2018]
During a time period that has changed how we work and caused many of us to refocus what we value, women have continued to find ways to connect and support one another. Financial health and literacy became increasingly important. Inspired by the 2019 Women, Money, and Power Study, commissioned by Allianz Life Insurance Company, which indicated that over half (57%) say they wish they were more confident in their financial decision making, a group of women were inspired to act.
Supported by the Women@ employee resource group and Life@ benefits team, a team of five women joined together to empower their fellow community members and peers to become confident in their finances.
Setting the goal to help women at work: Minki J., Program Manager Product Testing
Leading the effort, Minki J. began with a passion for personal finance and the desire to support the Women@ employee resource group community.
Minki J. is Program Manager Product Testing (New York), brought together a group of five women to create the educational materials for a financial literacy program.
"It is my strong belief that a good financial foundation and the confidence to improve and better manage your money is one of the fiercest forms of female empowerment." Minki shared. "Bring your authentic self to work is one of our core tenets at work - and that's how the program started. Financial empowerment for women is a life mission of mine. I brought the lessons learned and templates from my previous experiences, and was able to congregate a group of superwomen who were willing to volunteer their time and expertise so that more of our female colleagues could lift up and feel confident in their money journeys as well"
Together with Nellie H., Optimization Program Manager, (Dublin), Tricia W., Business Integrity (New York City), Kirsten N., Government, Politics & Non-Profits Partner Manager (Berlin), and Monse M., Global Diversity Brand Strategy Manager (Chicago), they created a six-week Financial Literacy Learning Sprint covering education on topics like fundamental financial wealth, budgeting, debt, investing, and retirement planning (401K, pension). This small team of five volunteers created educational materials, used Workplace groups and other virtual workplace tools to connect participants for the pilot program.
Kirsten N. Government, Politics & Non-Profits Partner Manager (Berlin) gives an overview of the financial literacy program materials.
"The financial literacy program was designed to be a safe space for women to talk about their financial well-being, money matters, and to educate themselves and create more structure when it comes to these financial issues. We put together all of these wonderful materials and shared them with tons of incredible women."
Tricia W. Manager, Business Integrity (New York) speaks to the inspiration of the collective group.
Tricia spoke to the inspiration and collective aspiration of the group, "From wage gaps to pink tax to longer life expectancy, there are many financial challenges that hit women differently. We hoped to build a community of support around these challenges as much as empowering and improving confidence in managing finances."
Creating Connections and Empowering Women Globally
The pilot kicked off virtually in 2020, with 22 Women@ community members. The second cohort grew to 230 women, the third to 756 women and the fourth is set to go live reaching women across the US, Singapore, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland.
Nellie H., Optimization Program Manager (Dublin) speaks to the growth and global expansion of the program.
Nellie explained, "We've been able to scale FinLit to serve a group of more than a thousand women. There are many opportunities to serve our internal and external communities. I'm proud that through the Financial Literacy program I was able to support my colleagues in empowering them to build their financial expertise."
Monse M., Global Diversity Employment Brand Strategy Lead speaks to the program impact on the founders.
"I've never worked at a company where a group of women have come together to create something that could help so many other women at work." Monse M. explains. "I was amazed by the feedback we received from our peers who participated in the program. I love that Meta is the kind of place where women come together to create ideas, have support and access to resources, and can then bring those ideas to life and impact so many; this is true in creating community at work and through our products and services we build for the world everyday."
More about Women@
We are committed to connecting and building a community of women who feel open and connected to each other. We empower women through professional development opportunities and engage with men as equal partners in advancing gender diversity and inclusion. We celebrate the unique contributions of women to Meta.
When women are empowered, there's no limit to what they can do. Join us on our mission to bring the world closer together.
■Learn about life at Meta on Instagram (@MetaCareers).
■Like our Meta Careers Talent Community Page for the latest updates.
💎 Would you like to work at Automattic? Get some valuable tips that will help you ace your interview with the company!
📼 Watch this video to see what it's like to work at Automattic and get some insights into the interview process from Romina Suarez, an Automattic engineer who focuses on engineering hiring.
📼 If you'd like to work at Automattic, the first thing you need to know is they are hiring pragmatic engineers who get things done. They look for engineers who communicate clearly, learn from feedback, design systems, and who will think of the person to come after them. They value an equal mix of effectiveness, positive attitude, and design know-how.
📼 When applying to work at Automattic, make sure you become familiar with the company creed. It's not just a list of things they wrote once and forgot. They actually use it to make decisions, provide feedback, and become better Automatticians. So as you're preparing to apply, think about the creed and how it impacts your experience, insight, and values, and use that information to show the best version of yourself.
Work at Automattic - Interview Process
The first step in the Automattic interview process is a text-based interview, usually done via Slack, where you'll answer a series of questions. After completing this step, you'll be invited to a code test, which will then lead you to the last step: a trial project, where you'll be guided by one of the company's engineers. Make sure to catch Romina's tips for each step of the process!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Automattic? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
More About Automattic
Automattic are the people behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, Tumblr, and more. Founded in 2005 and valued at $3 billion, they were one of the first companies to pave the way in remote work culture. The company's 1,400+ people hail from 79 countries and speak 99 languages.
Though the workforce is intellectually and geographically diverse, they share a passion for democratizing publishing and commerce—so that anyone with a story can tell it, and anyone with a product can sell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or country. And the company is growing rapidly!
Learn more about the amazing speakers and sponsors from our November 2021 virtual summit Diversity Reboot: Supporting Veterans and Military Spouses; 4 days of fireside chats, panel discussions, networking sessions, and our 1-day virtual job fair featuring 10 companies.
From transitioning into the civilian world after service to honing your entrepreneurial skills as a MilSpouse, we covered it all! If you didn't get a chance to join, we missed you. But you can relive the entire experience on our PowerToFly website.
We want to extend a HUGE thanks to our Platinum sponsor Infor. Our Gold sponsors Automattic, PwC, and NGA. This summit would not have been possible without the contributions of our Influencer sponsors iRelaunch and U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Also, don't forget to visit our Merch Store and grab yourself some PowerToFly apparel, we donate 100% of the proceeds from our sales to TransTech Social, supporting transgender people in tech.
Special Moments from the Summit
Infor Supporting Military Transition
Infor Supporting Military Transition www.youtube.com
Retired General Lori Robinson on Listening
Listening is the Most Powerful Lesson www.youtube.com
There's no Degree to Getting a CEO
There's no Degree to Getting a CEO www.youtube.com
MMA and the LGBTQIA+ Military Community
MMA and the LGBTQIA+ Military Community www.youtube.com
Carving out my Own Journey as an Entrepreneur
Carving out my Own Journey as an Entrepreneur www.youtube.com
Deploying the Future with Operation Code
Deploying the Future with Operation Code www.youtube.com
Our Platinum Sponsors
Infor is a global leader in business cloud software products for companies in industry specific markets. Infor builds complete industry suites in the cloud and efficiently deploys technology that puts the user experience first, leverages data science, and integrates easily into existing systems.
Our Gold Sponsor
Automattic are the people behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, Tumblr, and more. Founded in 2005, and valued at $3 billion, they were one of the first companies to pave the way in remote work culture. The company's 1,400+ people hail from 79 countries and speak 99 languages.
They're inspiring and empowering their people to change the world. Here, you'll learn with purpose, lead with heart and put your skills to work to make a meaningful difference in the world. As part of a diverse team, you'll build trust and create innovative client solutions in unexpected ways.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, warfighters, intelligence professionals and first responders.Anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on NGA.
Their mission is to eliminate bias against people who take extended career breaks. Their vision is that every employer running an entry level university internship program has a mid-career reentry program running side by side. They seek to normalize the decision to take a career break and recognize this untapped talent pool for what it is: highly educated, experienced, and motivated. As the pioneering company in the career reentry space, they're in a position to influence the conversations at employers and among relaunchers about what it means to take a career break and the caliber of the relauncher talent pool. As a result, career breaks have been completely reframed: it used to be that a career break was a reason to reject a candidate. Now career breaks are required to be eligible to apply for and participate in employer return to work programs.
The U.S. Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to ensure that all active duty and veteran military spouse business owners have the tools and resources they need to strengthen their families, communities, and our economy. We provide the first of its kinds Military Spouse Owned Enterprise certification, and are the voice of military spouses, advocating to positively impact the business climate for military spouse owned businesses.
Hire Heroes USA provides free job search assistance to U.S. military members, veterans and their spouses, and we help companies connect with opportunities to hire them.
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Learn about other companies that joined us:
Is This Company Right For Me? 3 Must-haves When Choosing Where to Work
💎 So you've come to the final stages of the interview process, but you're still wondering: Is this company right for me? Learn three must-haves that will help you choose the best place to work!
📼 If you find yourself in front of a job offer thinking, "Is this company right for me?" play this video to get three top must-haves from Dionabel Espinola, Customer Success Manager at Veracode.
👉Want to work at Veracode? They're hiring! Check out the company's open jobs:
Solutions Architect, Channel (remote!) https://bit.ly/VeracodeSolutionsArchitectPTF
Senior Software Engineer (remote!) https://bit.ly/VeracodeSrSoftwareEngineerPTF
Principal Customer Success Manager (remote!) https://bit.ly/VeracodePrincipalCustomerSuccessManagerPTF
📼 Tip #1: Look For Work-life Balance. The first tip that will help you answer "Is this company right for me?" is finding an organization that has a true work-life balance. And what Dionabel means by that is a place that encourages employees to take time off, decompress, disconnect, and do the things they love, whether that's spending time with family or reading a book.
📼 Tip #2: Look For Career Growth. The next tip that will help you answer "Is this company right for me?" is making sure you apply to an organization where you will have career growth. Picture yourself there already. "If I work there, what's my next step? What do I want to do? What do I want to be?" And align yourself with that. And it's totally okay to reach out on LinkedIn to current individuals who have that role and ask, "Hey, what does the career path look like for this specific role?" As Dionabel recalls, it can get a little boring when you have a role that changes over time by title and not responsibility. So for her, it was crucial to continue being challenged, hence the huge career switch she made at Veracode.
Is This Company Right For Me? Last But Not Least Must-Have
The third must-have is diversity and inclusion. Dionabel says, "As a person that identifies as a person of color, I am Dominican, I'm very proud of my roots. I wanted to make sure that where I was going, things like this were being celebrated because I think this is what brings us even closer to each other."
Dionabel knows her must-haves may not be the same for everyone. So she highly encourages you to grab a pen and paper, jot down the top three things you must have at work, and at the end of the day, don't forget that you are your best advocate. Advocate for yourself and the things you want because no one else will do it better than you!
📨 Are you interested in joining Veracode? They have open positions! To learn more, click here: https://bit.ly/VeracodePTF
More About Veracode
Veracode delivers the application security solutions and services today's software-driven world requires. Veracode's unified platform assesses and improves the security of applications from inception through production so that businesses can confidently innovate with the web and mobile applications they build, buy, and assemble as well as the components they integrate into their environments.
Veracode's powerful cloud-based platform, deep security expertise, and systematic, policy-based approach provide enterprises with simpler and more scalable ways to reduce application-layer risk across their software infrastructures. Veracode serves hundreds of customers across various industries, including nearly one-third of the Fortune 100, three of the top 4 U.S. commercial banks, and more than 20 of Forbes' 100 Most Valuable Brands.
0:00 The Perfect Work-life Balance
0:09 Introducing Veracode
0:26 Tip 1: Work-life Balance
1:21 Tip 2: Career Growth
2:11 Tip 3: Diversity and Inclusion
2:51 Tip Summary
3:34 Share Your Own Tips!
#Veracode #jobmusthaves #TopTips #workatVeracode #PowerToFly #careeradvice