Building a cleaner and more sustainable planet is motivating third-year Electrical Engineering student Erika Pineo as she walks across the Okanagan campus.
Recently back on campus, Pineo spent the last 16-months on co-op with 2 different organizations after completing her first two years of undergraduate studies,
“Co-op has really provided me with direction about what I want to do in the future,” says Pineo. “Doing co-op sequentially allowed me to gain skills, develop them, and refine them.”
Landing those co-op jobs wasn’t the easiest process, and required a steep learning curve according to Pineo. Despite having worked many part-time jobs, Pineo says developing an effective resume for an engineering role is completely different. Apart from drafting strong cover letters and job-specific resumes, she says her interviews tended to be less behavioural-focused and more technical focused.
“Applying is quality over quantity, explains Pineo who applied for over a hundred jobs in order to land her first co-op position. However, she only applied for one in her second go-around. “I probably put more time into that one application and used the knowledge I gained from the first time around to make sure it was solid.”
Pineo’s first co-op was with UBC Okanagan‘s School of Engineering as a Technical Director at Geering Up. Her next three terms were at Fortis BC in three different roles.
“Fortis was an incredible opportunity, and that was partly a result of connections I made while I was there including with UBC alum from both the Okanagan and Vancouver,” says Pineo. “I’ve also tried to build upon that by referring other UBC students to Fortis and paying it forward.”
Co-op taught Pineo many lessons, but the big one was learning to reach out and ask for help. “When it is all on you, and you don’t know how to do it, the barrier to entry is very high,” explains Pineo. “By getting help and direction, you are able to jump into the task and get it done – which allows you to have more time to work on cooler things and develop your skills further.”
Looking back on her first two-years of undergrad, Pineo points to APSC 169, Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering Design, as a very influential course that has led her to where she is today. Although she acknowledges that her technical skills weren’t as strong as her peers during first year, her communication skills were above par. “It was amazing to share my skill set with my peers and learn from them. It resulted in an influential water consumption reduction program that was implemented by UBC Sustainability and remains on campus today.”
Pineo has always been interested in conservation, and in particular water and energy conservation. Her experience with Fortis, and growing up by the ocean in Nova Scotia, has guided her towards a future in marine renewable energy. “Keeping water clean while harnessing its energy potential has so many exciting possibilities, and I’m looking forward to making a difference in this area.”