My internship as a water engineer at Black and Veatch

Name: Melody Gonzalez

Hometown: Rio Caribe, Venezuela

What is your major? Civil Engineering

Where did you intern? Black and Veatch, Coral Gables office. The consulting firm is responsible for the design for the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

What did you do there? The company focuses on three business lines – water, power and telecommunications. As part of the water line division, I supported the South Florida team in water and wastewater related projects.

How did you get your internship? Through my network. I am part of the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) South Chapter, and another member talked to me about the internship program at BV and sent me the link to apply.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Networking is crucial. Get involved in organizations related to our field of study. Those professional relationships can give you the opportunity to get your foot in the door for an interview. Don’t give up. It takes time to build your network, but it will eventually pay off.

What projects did you work on? I mainly worked on a project in the design of a water line located in the Southwest of Miami Dade County, beginning in the intersection of SW 137th avenue and SW 176th street and ending at the intersection of SW 134th avenue and SW 208th street. It was a very interesting project because it was a large diameter pipeline (60-inch), including crossing a canal while keeping the road in service at all times.

How did your internship connect back to your coursework? Many of my classes were related to the work I performed — hydraulic and fluid mechanics, computer tools, GIS, and AutoCAD; but I would say that more than just the classes, the skills that I learned while at school is what helped me to get the work done.

What did you like most about your experience? BV is a very large company and its internship program is very well organized. It really impressed me how everything was set up in advance before I started, and I was treated as another engineer who was part of the team. And even though, I was here in South Florida, I was in constant communication with the headquarters in Kansas City via weekly Skype calls and webinars. The company really invested time in giving me a great experience and good knowledge of the company as a whole.

What have you learned about yourself? I learned that I am very competitive. All the interns around the United States started at the same time, and as part of the internship program. The company had a social media challenge where we posted about our experience at BV and I won three out of four of them, putting Miami in the spotlight.

How did you expand your professional network? I met a lot of professionals. Not only the engineers in my office, but also in other offices in Florida, as well as some company executives such as the president of the water division, and the regional vice president.

How did it help you prove yourself in the real world? This was an amazing experience. I could get a real sense of what the work of a water engineer is on a daily basis. Engineering is a very stressful job, but the reward of knowing that you are helping to improve people’s lives motivates you to do it better every day. I am very excited that I was offered a full-time position to join the company upon graduation this December!

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