University of Calgary

Career Centre

April 7, 2011

Engineering career centre helps students chart career path

By Jennifer Sowa

Nadia Chamberland, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, just completed an internship at Alstom Power in Switzerland.Nadia Chamberland, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, just completed an internship at Alstom Power in Switzerland.Providing a guiding hand from first year all the way to graduation and beyond—that’s the vision as the Schulich School of Engineering embarks on a plan to create a one-stop-shop Career Centre for students and industry.

The continuous evolution of the engineering profession and its highly technical and specialized nature show need for a career centre that is tailored specifically for young engineers and their future employers.

“The engineers of today must complement their technical training with soft skills, such as the ability to lead teams, manage projects and communicate effectively. That’s what we’re hearing from industry,” says Jack Gray, director of the Engineering Career Centre. “Ensuring we produce well-rounded graduates gives them a real edge when they enter the workforce.”

The Career Centre will build upon the school’s flagship Internship Program, which offers work terms that are several months longer than those in traditional co-op programs at most other institutions. Until now, the program has only been available to students after their third year of study. Once fully operational, the Career Centre will offer a range of services for all students right from day one through graduation, including workshops, guest speakers, industry tours, resume tips and job interview training.

The Career Centre will benefit companies by providing a venue for job postings and opportunities to meet students as well as ensuring that knowledge of the latest industry practices is integrated into the training of future engineers. Ongoing student development ensures companies that the graduates they hire are a good fit for them.

SNC-Lavalin, one of the world’s leading engineering and construction firms, is the first company to step forward and support the Career Centre with a contribution of $125,000. The company is represented on the Engineering Career Centre Advisory Board, it takes part in numerous student activities and has employed many graduates from the Schulich School of Engineering.

“Employees are our key resource. They blend technical expertise with teamwork and leadership to drive personal and business success,” explains Karen Sobel, vice president, project operations with SNC-Lavalin Inc. “We are proud to sponsor the Schulich School of Engineering’s Career Centre to promote the values that really work within today’s engineering business environment. Investing in the development of future engineers is a good business decision.”

“Our school is located in the engineering capital of Canada and the support of valuable partners, such as SNC-Lavalin gives us the means to continue training some of the strongest engineers in the country,” says Dr. Anil Mehrotra, interim dean of the engineering faculty. “We are committed to preparing future engineers so they can meet the challenges of today and demonstrate the creativity and leadership needed to meet the challenges thirty years from now.”

“Preparing for life after graduation goes far beyond academia. Students need support to strategically streamline their eventual career path,” says Nadia Chamberland, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student who just completed an internship at Alstom Power in Switzerland. “Experience working in industry, developing relationships and interpersonal skills are invaluable when it comes to creating the launching pad for a successful career in engineering.”

Several pilot projects are already underway: mock job interview sessions, resume services, workshops for new graduates and participation in industry career days. The Career Centre will gradually roll out new services as more support from industry comes in.

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