Beverly Stephens (BS Egr Arts ’80) retired in July 2010 after 30 years as an area manager for the engineering staff at AT&T. However, her “retirement” did not last long. She is now back part-time as a consultant with Ameritech.
“In my final semester at MSU, I landed an interview with Michigan Bell Telephone (MBT) after meeting with them at an MSU Job Fair,” says Stephens. The position was for an engineer and I could end up in Lansing, Kalamazoo, or Battle Creek. In a time when many of my friends were moving to Texas to find a job, I had offers from both MBT, part of the original AT&T, and the state of Michigan.” She graduated on Saturday, June 7, and started work on Monday, June 9. “I loved the opportunity to be outside, ‘in the field,’ but it was not always easy as a young woman at various construction sites.” Stephens was part of a new trend at the time—hiring college graduates who then received specialized training to learn the business quickly.
“The Engineering Arts program [now known as Applied Engineering Sciences] was pretty new in the late ’70s. It was described as a good fit for technical sales opportunities. I thought I was more suited to research in a lab than a sales job, but after one term of computer science, calculus, and organic chemistry all at once, I needed to find an alternative to my chemical engineering major. The exposure to so many types of science and engineering fields was amazing and practical.”
Her time in the telephone industry was one of many transitions. “We went from four-party lines to explosive growth in wireless, fiber optic technologies, and the latest U-verse product merging voice, data, and video. With business as my ‘minor,’ classes in accounting, economics, and marketing helped me maneuver in the corporate world and survive more than one Michigan recession. That technical background and years of field experience led to my last position with the regional support staff for Construction and Engineering. While I never did have to make a sale myself, I was host to many vendors and new product introductions.”
Stephens now enjoys gardening, friends, and staying active. She tries to walk, bike, or ice skate every day. “I also am easing my way into more volunteer work and have another part-time job as an election inspector. I hope to take up drawing and painting again, because this engineer once dreamed of being an artist!”