Updated: Dec 17, 2020
I’ve learned to appreciate the small things in life and not take anything for granted - Calicia Johnson
What do you call someone whose dream is to help others achieve their dreams? I mean someone who works tirelessly to support the development of others while even sacrificing their own time and resources.
You call them a next level #LEADER!
It's not often that I have an opportunity to meet someone who is just as passionate as I am with respect to the development of young professionals. In this Trending Leader feature, we highlight Calicia Johnson, Founder of Student Career Studio. She is a high performing manager that has identified her purpose and has pivoted into a passion project that is opening up the doors for so many people. We connected on LinkedIn some time ago and I have been amazed at all of her accomplishments in just such a short time that we've known each other. We will all be reading more about Calicia one day and maybe even sooner than we know!
Calicia Johnson is currently the Strategy and Development Manager at Chevron for production facilities and well pads in West Texas. She is responsible for developing the long-term field strategy and front end design for various development areas. Prior to this role, she was a Water Strategy and Planning Manager, responsible for developing water supply, transportation, processing and disposal strategies, to support drilling and completions activity.
Calicia has also held the role of Project Execution Engineer where she managed a budget exceeding $80 million and was responsible for the design, procurement, installation and construction of oil production facilities. Her projects added over 72,000 barrels of oil per day to Chevron’s portfolio and helped Chevron reach record breaking production in the Permian Basin. Since joining Chevron, she has also held positions of Project Engineer and Subsea Engineer within the Gulf of Mexico Business Unit.
In addition to her full-time responsibilities, Calicia serves as the Engineering Recruiting Team Lead for Georgia Institute of Technology, the Society of Asian Scientist and Engineers (SASE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Calicia has been recognized as a Walker’s Legacy Power Award Honoree, selected as a member of the 2019 class of Influential Women in Manufacturing and recognized as a 2019 Technology Rising Star by the Women of Color STEM Conference. Her STEM story has also been highlighted in the 1 Million Women in STEM campaign in 2020 and Chevron’s Black Employee Network recognized her with the Trailblazer in Diversity Award in 2020.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Calicia received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A&M University and her Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University.
Q: From your foundation in Mechanical Engineering and strategy development to now empowering young professionals by recruiting, mentoring, and providing developmental opportunities, what inspired you to start Student Career Studio?
Calicia: The road to engineering was not easy, and landing a fulfilling job after undergrad was even harder. Coming from a non-target school, I received more rejections than interviews which was extremely disappointing after such tireless academic efforts. Being ghosted continuously by recruiters only added more fuel to the fire. I never forgot how I felt during the job searching process as a student. It was those experiences that fueled a burning desire in me to fix the flawed system. So I contacted the university recruitment team at my job and volunteered to become an engineering recruiter for my company, with the goal to become the recruiter I never had and be the change I wanted to see.
Over time, I realized that students belonging to minority groups are not well aware of the opportunities and resources available to them, especially those who attend non-target schools. I recognized the need of a one-stop solution for students seeking guidance. In my search of finding a convenient solution for students, I ended up creating one – Student Career Studio.
Student Career Studio was created with one goal in mind: to transform students from being overlooked to being undeniable. We help those who come from non-target schools and underrepresented ethnic groups, with access to scholarships, internships, and leadership opportunities. We aim to assist students in paving a path to achieve their goals and dreams. We also provide personalized guidance and mentorship to encourage students to exhibit the best version of themselves. We assist students with LinkedIn profile setup/reviews, resume reviews, and mock interviews. We also highlight corporate leadership summits and diversity conferences which students can attend for additional professional development. We provide clear and concise information with direct access to the opportunity.
Q: “It is not what you gather but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived” is an awesome quote by Helen Walton that you have chosen to live by. Who has “scattered” or sown seeds in your life?
Calicia: Wow, excellent question! I’ve been tremendously blessed to have so many advocates along my journey who have sown seeds in my life. My college professors who cared enough about me and wanted me to succeed and get good grades. My classmates who also served as study buddies and helped me prepare for exams and learn various concepts throughout my academic career. My graduate school advisor who provided funding for me to attend graduate school. The National Society of Black Engineers organization has been extremely instrumental in helping me develop as a leader, providing opportunities and developing professionally. Above all else my parents and best friend have been the most influential in my journey. My parents created a solid foundation for me growing up and enabled me to be exposed to a lot when I was younger. The sacrifices they made to provide my brother and I a good life has gone unmatched. My best friend consistently inspires me and pushes me to get out of my comfort zone and go after my dreams.
Q: What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome with becoming a STEM professional?
Calicia: I’ve been in the Energy and Chemicals industry for all of my career. Unlike the Tech industry, they do not have very many desired work locations. As a city girl at heart, my biggest challenge has been adjusting to the small industrial towns for work. Although I’ve been able to excel my career because I made those sacrifices early, I struggled personally. Not having any friends nearby, no organizations to join, very few people who looked like me, expensive flights because of the small airport…the list goes on. In hindsight I definitely appreciate the learning experiences it taught me because I’ve learned to appreciate the small things in life and not take anything for granted.
Q: I believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we operate in business, in the community and as leaders. We call it “Bringing Your Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work?
Calicia: I’ve learned to set boundaries for myself and my work. I only dedicate time to things I’m passionate about, believe in, will have an impact on others and are aligned with my end goal. That is how I ensure I am authentic to myself and my work. Over the years I’ve also learned to be more vocal in my work, and not be afraid to challenge the status quo. It is very important for me to share who I really am as a person and be honest about my mistakes, in order for the younger generation to not view me as an unattainable image of professional success.
Q: What advice would you give to other young professionals or entrepreneurs looking to take their career or education to the next level?
• Figure out what you want and what is important to you
• Continue learning
• Network! Network! Network!
• Take risks and don’t let fear stop you
Q: At Re.engineer, we believe in challenging the status quo. Tell us about how you will be “shaking things up” in the near future.
Calicia: In the near future, I plan to provide students with more access to resources that will help them along their career journey. I plan to highlight more minority professionals through my nonprofit in order for students to see themselves in that particular career.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
Calicia: Knowing some students have no idea about opportunities they are eligible to apply to. I passionately believe ALL students, regardless of what school they attend, should have the tools, resources and access to scholarships, internships and leadership opportunities. I aim to bridge that gap with my nonprofit called Student Career Studio.
Student Career Studio: www.studentcareerstudio.org