Taking the Career Jump from Nuclear Energy to Software Development

University of Michigan grad LeeAnn Baker always knew she wanted to go into nuclear energy – so no one is more surprised than Baker that she is now happily making her living in software development.  She also wasn’t expecting Ann Arbor to offer the career options she’d need to make this transition.

After completing industry internships and a degree in nuclear engineering, Baker started out as planned at the Fermi nuclear plant in Monroe County.  Later, she moved to Arizona and California, but she missed her family and was looking for ways to return to the Midwest.

“Nuclear engineering jobs are scarce and you often need to relocate to progress in your career.  I loved the work I was doing, but needed a change,” she explains. To broaden her job options, Baker started applying for general engineering jobs and found an opportunity to be a quality assurance engineer for a company in Illinois – her first job in software.

It was on a trip back home for her birthday that Baker discovered Nexient, a software services provider with a large presence in Ann Arbor.  It was the chance she’d been waiting for to get closer to family, return to a town she had loved as a student, and grow her career prospects. Today, she leads a team of software engineers providing software support for a healthcare analytics client.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the job at Nexient,” said Baker. “I’m pleased to say it’s more than I could have ever hoped for. Our leadership offers a lot of opportunity for growth and really encourages us to work outside of our comfort zone. My work lets me stay connected to family and gives me the stability to start my own family some day.”

Baker thought she knew what to expect of Ann Arbor, but was pleasantly surprised with that aspect of her move, too. “I knew it was a great town, but I didn’t know much about the companies located here. Coming to Nexient made me aware of the variety and amount of software companies in this area. I always loved Ann Arbor, and now also love the professional opportunities here.”

“People are proud to be part of this community,” she added. “They’re proud of its history, the architecture, downtown, University of Michigan… the list goes on. Being back here makes me so happy – I’ve even been able to buy my first home.”

As for others looking for a new career, Baker advises, “My experience at Nexient taught me to not be afraid to put myself out there. Be positive! You don’t have to be stuck in your current career if you don’t want to be. The environment here showed me that there are organizations that will fully support employees doing new things. Look for career opportunities that excite you, take charge, and change your life to what you want it to be.”

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