My name is Melissa James, and I am a senior civil engineering student at CSU graduating in December 2015. During my time at CSU, I have had the opportunity to learn real-world applications both in and out of the classroom. I had two internships as an undergraduate student that opened my eyes to the possibilities of civil engineering in the real world. Through these experiences, I was able to not only decide if this type of career path is right for me, but also got to sample different work place environments.
My first internship was during the summer after my freshman year at CSU and was with the Bureau of Reclamation in my hometown of Carson City, Nevada. As an intern with the Bureau of Reclamation, I was given the task of accompanying employees on field trips as well as doing various in-office projects. Throughout the summer, I got to know the different people in the office and hear their opinions, advice, and suggestions about schooling, finding the perfect job, and life in general.
My second internship was during the summer after my senior year prior to my final semester. This internship was with MWH Global and was broken into 3 parts. The first part of the internship took up the majority of the summer and had me working with the water resources division at the Sacramento, California office. While in Sacramento, I worked on projects in various stages of development. I gained a sense of belonging through the friendships and mentorships built in the Young Professionals Group events and activities. The second part of my internship took me to the small town of Yellow Pine, Idaho to do fish surveying on an old mining site. This part of the internship required both physical and mental strength from me as I bushwhacked my way through the forest with my coworkers to find the test sites and got chest deep in cold, mountain stream water. The final stage of my internship had me again working in an office for the water resources division, but this time in Fort Collins, Colorado. These final two weeks spent in the Fort Collins office gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast the work space environment of a big office (in Sacramento) to a small office (in Fort Collins).
Through all of these experiences, I have gained a new knowledge and appreciation of the world around me as well as the possibilities that lay ahead for me. I learned so much by doing actual project work and by interacting with people of various backgrounds, personalities, and opinions. I am grateful for the connections I have made and am excited to see where life will take me next!