"Not everyone's career path will be the same and it might not be the path you originally planned, but you will get to where you want to go."
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Grad year: 2020
- Campus: Vancouver
Job title as of April 2023: Senior Project Coordinator at Teck Resources; moving into the position Process Engineer-in-Training in June 2023.
Why did you want to study engineering?
I loved math, physics and chemistry, and when I looked at the job opportunities I could pursue in these areas, engineering was a clear choice. I tailored my senior years of high school to make sure I had the requirements to get into engineering.
Why did you choose UBC?
UBC was close to home. I knew university would be a big change from high school, and I thought studying here would make that transition easier. Also, I liked that UBC has a general first-year engineering program so you can explore your options before choosing a specialization. Finally, I had heard great things about the friendly student community.
How did you decide on Materials Engineering?
In first year you learn about all the program specializations. I wanted to work in the aerospace field and thought mechanical engineering could be a good choice, but as I learned more, Materials Engineering seemed like the place for me. There are three broad areas of study within the program –manufacturing, biomedical and mineral processing – offering a range of options.
What were some highlights of your undergraduate experience?
Materials Engineering was a small closeknit community and it was great to build strong relationships with my classmates and professors.
While I’d originally been interested in the manufacturing side, a research opportunity in my final year spurred my interest in mineral processing and working in the mining industry.
What was the focus of your NSERC-funded research?
In my last year I received an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award to work in Dr. David Dreisinger’s hydrometallurgy lab. I was paired with a PhD student who was running experiments in the hydromet lab to test a prototype anion exchange membrane by assessing the production of concentrated acid solutions. This was a fully funded four-month research position under NSERC and then it was extended to eight months. I continued doing research for the PhD student up until I finished my classes.
Tell us about your career since graduating.
A month or so after I completed my coursework, the COVID-19 pandemic meant a lot of employers put their recruiting and hiring efforts on hold. I worked part-time and enrolled in a project management certificate program at BCIT. Soon after, I was hired by my current company, Teck Resources, as a Site Project Coordinator at Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver where they were doing a major expansion project. It was fantastic to be working on site. After about six months I moved to Teck’s corporate office in downtown Vancouver working as a Senior Project Coordinator within their Project Development Group.
What are your job responsibilities?
I focus on the project management side, which is an area that people tend to move into a little later in their career.
This job has given me the opportunity to understand the big picture of project development and management, including how functional groups work together, what the business drivers are and what strategies are ultimately driving a project to completion. My responsibilities include tracking all our action items and ensuring deliverables are being completed to allow the project to advance from one phase to the next. This involves a lot of communication with different functional groups and making sure everyone has all the information needed.
What do you hope to achieve in your career?
I recently accepted a new offer as a Process Engineer-in-Training (EIT) with Teck in their Technical Services group. I’m excited to be gaining more hands-on experience, working in onsite operational environments, and being part of a team of other engineers and operators. There are three year-long rotations as part of this program so I will be exposed to many different areas
One of my short-term goals is get my professional engineering licence. Longer term, I hope to take on project manager roles where I could combine my technical knowledge with my project management skills.
Any advice for others?
If you are haven’t had the opportunity to do co-op and gain technical experience in your field, don’t let that discourage you when you are applying for jobs. You can leverage many other skills you have gained through other work or volunteer experiences. I worked in the retail industry for majority of my undergrad and I believe my flexibility, communication and interpersonal skills have helped me advance in my career.
Mentors are also important. Even though it can be hard to reach out to someone you don’t know, people are willing to help – and some may even be looking for new talent! Don't be afraid to reach out and make connections.
To that end, if I can help someone in any way, reach out – I'd love to share my experience.