With a love for Taylor Swift, passion for spin and degree in engineering, this week’s Women Crush Wednesday is full of surprises! Allison Chisenhall is a 23-year-old chemical engineer who was born and raised in Texas. Growing up, she played competitive volleyball while excelling in school. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Now, Allison lives in east Tennessee working as a chemical process engineer for BAE Systems, a defensive contracting company.
Throughout her education, Allison has battled with a learning disability. However, she has not let this prevent her from pursing her true interests. Rather, she has used it as a means for growth. As a member of the USBLN’s Career Link Mentoring Program, she attended conferences and networked in her chosen field.
Starting a new job as a process engineer in east Tennessee required Allison to place roots in an unfamiliar city. Within a few months of unpacking her suitcase, she has met her soul mate, got engaged and bought a house! She is now in the process of planning a wedding for the winter of 2017.
Allison’s innovative thinking, motivation and silly personality make her a P&P #WCW crush!
Q: What was your dream job as a young girl? How have your career interests changed since then?
A: It’s funny because, as a kid, I always wanted to be a teacher. School always came
naturally for me and I really enjoy helping people so teaching made sense. As I continued into high school, my teachers suggested engineering as I excelled in math and sciences. When I started college, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Chemical engineering at Hopkins allowed for a million different paths. After multiple internships and research positions, I realized process-engineering fit perfectly. The career includes a fast-paced environment with a bit of pressure and tons of problem solving. The coolest thing is that I still can pursue my interest in helping others. Process engineers improve the manufacturing plant process by providing employees with a more efficient and safer work environment.
Q: How did you land such a great full-time job so soon after graduating college?
A: I found the position on a job listing website, but had already met a recruiter for the company at the USBLN conference. As soon as I saw the listing, I reached out the recruiter who helped link me into the interview process. After a phone interview, I was told that I would hear back in two weeks. However, within one hour, I received a call asking me to fly out to visit the company in Tennessee. Within a month and a half, I was officially offered the position! To celebrate, I went to a Carrie Underwood concert.
Q: How was the most difficult part about moving to a new city in east Tennessee?
A: Oh my goodness, this place is so different from where I have lived in the past. There are bugs and snakes in every corner of this place, so hiking is a rarity although I have gotten better about overcoming these fears. Everyone knows everyone here so I can’t get away with going out for some karaoke without my coworkers seeing me dance to Ke$ha! I have also had a hard time making friends because my background is so different. Most women my age are married with children; and I am not quite ready for kids.
Despite these challenges, I have grown to enjoy it here. I travel more now since Kingsport, Tennessee is in close proximity to many lively cities – an hour from Asheville and Knoxville, a few hours from Nashville and only a drive from Baltimore, Atlanta and the South Carolina shore. I look forward to more explorations in the future.
This family-oriented environment has also changed my priorities. I waste less time partying. Instead, I spend more time cooking, decorating my new house and enjoying the simple things. A new favorite is sitting on my back porch with a glass of wine and my fiancé.
Oh, and does my fiancé count as another thing I love about my new home? I have truly found my soul mate here!
Q: How do you cope with stress and stay sane with your busy schedule?
A: I’m still adjusting to the stress at work. I have good days and bad days. When I get overwhelmed, I take a deep breath and remind myself that not everything can get done in one day. We are balancing 15 projects, all of which take months to finish. At the end of the work day, when your hours are in, you’ve just got to close your email, silence your phone, and walk away from it.
I have been able to find a good balance outside of work. Now, I do a TON of cooking. I’m definitely enjoying that. I do this program called Home Chef that sends nutritious, high-protein recipes with all the ingredients to cook yourself. Brandon and I love doing it together. At night, I like to wind down with a good book. I am currently reading Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kid of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned; I highly recommend it to any woman. Oh, and I can’t forget Netflix!
Q: What do you love about teaching spin?
A: I loved leading classes as soon as I started teaching spin. It gave me the confidence to speak in front of a group, something I was terrified of up until that point. Each class, I look to inspire others. Spin isn’t about calories; it’s about finding your confidence, the strongest version of you. Fitness is not a punishment; fitness is a reward.
Q: How has it been juggling the wedding planning with work and personal life?
A: Oh my gosh, it has been NUTS. It’s definitely a huge time commitment, but once we got most of the large details figured out, it has been a ton of fun! We are always planning and discussing wedding details after work. It is a special time so we love doing it together. We only have a few more decisions before I get to just sit back and enjoy!
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to young girls?
A: Take your time being young. If you aren’t happy, make a change. A lot of girls spend so much time weighting different options and worrying about failure. There will be mistakes; there will be successes. So, be spontaneous, listen to your feelings and try not to worry so much because adulthood is just crawling along and pretending to know what you’re doing. And, as Kate Spade would say, “eat cake for breakfast.”
What is your spirit animal?
Boo the dog. I am definitely high energy but also a perfectionist. Boo is a crazy and wild little guy, but has a poof that is just fabulous.
What is one item on your bucket list?
I want to visit every Disney park in the world! Oh, and meet Taylor Swift.
What is the one food that you couldn’t live without?
Pasta. I LOVE pasta. I know it isn’t the most nutritious food in the world, but if eating pasta is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Hermoine, am I right?! Who wouldn’t want to be such a confident, intelligent and fun woman?!
~ Motivated – Innovative – Silly ~
Chisenhall’s hardworking nature has led her to a BS in Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering and career as a process engineer right out of college. However, she isn’t all business. She knows how to manage her time to allow for exploring hobbies, staying active and maintaining strong relationships. Her balanced lifestyle makes her my role model!
I know you are surrounded by many inspiring woman. Nominate them to be featured as a Preppy & Periwinkle #WCW here. We would love to hear about incredible women in your community or industry.