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Finding her own way

Engineering student seeks out―and secures―work-term placement

Student Life

By Jackey Locke

When it comes to finding a work-term placement, Clara Decán got creative.

The fourth-year mechanical engineering student needed a fourth and final work term to graduate. When she began to think she was not going to secure one this term, she decided to seek out her own.

“One day, I decided to go through company websites and email every single person I could find,” she said. “I sent more than 100 emails since January, to which the majority said they did not have anything available due to the downturn in the economy. However, one individual called me and asked about the co-op process at Memorial.

“The company was new to the area and had no contact with the co-op office. I gladly met them the following day for an informal interview and a few hours later I received a call with a job offer.”

Ms. Decán is completing her work term at Alscott Air Systems where she works as an HVAC engineer intern.

In the two weeks she’s been working at Alsott, she has already applied her academic background in thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and heat transfer in the process of designing and conducting engineering calculations for HVAC systems.

“Don’t give up. Email or call every person in the industry you know or don’t know.” — Clara Decán

While students sometimes seek out work terms themselves, the majority of work-term placements are co-ordinated through the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s co-operative education office.

Academic staff members work tirelessly each semester to find work-term placements for undergraduate students. With the current economic downturn in the province and across the country, securing work terms is becoming more challenging.

400 work terms

However, 400 students are currently on work terms, and all students who required a work term this semester in order to graduate on time have been placed.

Ms. Decán says several students she knows found their own work terms this semester; she encourages other students to remain positive and to do their part in securing future placements.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “Email or call every person in the industry you know or don’t know. Update your LinkedIn profile, and don’t be afraid to diversify to an industry that is not dependent on oil and gas.”


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