From ski bum to engineer, thanks to a well-placed referral

Adam Trumbour of Cambridge, 25, RDK Engineers, Boston

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Adam Trumbour chose Penn State because of its engineering program, and after graduation three years ago, worked on an American Indian reservation installing solar systems. He knew he would continue to pursue interests in sustainable alternative eneryg, but first chose to pursue another passion of his, skiing.

I wanted to have some fun before strapping myself down to a job, so when I graduated two years ago from Penn State, I didn’t jump right into the corporate world. I worked for a professor at the university for a few months, then decided to take the plunge and take to the ski slopes at Breckenridge, Colo..

I worked the chair lift and got to ski a lot, but it wasn’t the most mentally stimulating occupation, so my exit strategy was to get a job in engineering. From my experience, I never underestimate the power of relationship with the people I know; I believe it’s the single most important factor when finding a job.

I wasn’t afraid to market myself and talk to people; you have to sell yourself in these current economic conditions. I moved out West to work on a solar project, and stayed in touch with a high school buddy who worked here on the East Coast. When I wanted to come back to the Boston area, I asked him for a referral to his company, RDK Engineers, which seemed like a good fit because I had sustainability experience.

My friend was particularly well-respected at RDK, so when he referred me, it seemed to carry some extra weight. And by the way, I had no problem explaining that gap when I was a ski bum – when I explained what I had done, people always said, “Wow, I wish I had done the same thing at your age.”