“There’s no such thing as being ‘too old’ to do something, whether that’s changing your major or career, a new hobby, or a simple action. I hope to keep hearing this for the rest of my life because it signifies I’m pushing the boundaries and learning.”

Tim Magner says he had no idea what he wanted to do with his Science and Engineering major at James Madison University. At the time, he chose his major because his father was in the field. During his senior year in college, Magner realized he was more interested in history, geopolitics, and language. A year after graduating from James Madison, Magner moved to China to study Mandarin and work for three years. His experience in China helped pave the way for his current position as the Senior Project Developer at GE Solar.

While in China, Magner worked for a solar company. Afterwards, the company sent him back to the United States to help with U.S. operations. His time in China inspired Magner to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. As a graduate student, he interned at GE where he continues to explore his interest in the energy industry. Magner did not know his time abroad would lead him to GE. “My role at GE would have not been possible without my experience in China,” he says. “Sometimes, the unconventional path makes you more attractive when trying to reach your end goal. It can make you stand out in interviews. Don’t be afraid to experiment.”

Magner’s seemingly unconventional path combined with his deliberate networking has helped shape his career. “Getting coffee with strangers and talking about their career is uncomfortable and filled with dead ends, but it’s also how I’ve gotten every job over my career,” he explains. Magner says being prepared and embracing failure is key when networking. Practicing responses to core questions, researching the person’s company and/or LinkedIn profile, and having questions ready are just some of the ways Magner suggests preparing before a networking meeting. Networking can lead to rejection, which Magner describes as part of the process. “90% of the time you spend networking won’t lead to any results, but it just takes one ‘yes’ to land the next opportunity,” he says.