My one day experience at AECOM was a very exciting and informative experience. It gave me the chance to see what a life as an environmental consultant would be like from the bottom of the organization to the top. I also got to hear wonderful career advice from people who had graduated as civil or environmental engineers. The experience granted me an insight into what I would want to do after I graduate.
The day that I went to Philly was one of the coldest days of the whole year. I was so relieved that AECOM’s building was just a block away from the train station in the middle of downtown. Once I had passed security and got to the 17th floor, I was led to the office of my host, Jacob Rainwater ‘01. Jake was very welcoming and he started off the day by giving me an overview of his career and a brief introduction of his job. He explained how his academic career had led him to become an environmental consultant and the type of work an environmental consultant does. He was very open to any questions that I had regarding his career or job, and in the process of answering the questions, he offered his insightful advice as well.
We had lunch at a cafeteria to a building right next to his where I got to meet the rest of the office members. Because the AECOM Water office in Philly is not the main office, there were more or less only 10 people in the office. Before and after lunch I got the opportunity to talk to all of the people in office one-on-one.
Zach, who was also a project manager in the same position as Jake, had taken a different career path than Jake’s. It was fascinating to see how the different career paths led to the positions they were currently in. He showed me one of the projects he was working on and the technical skills involved with it. He was working on an extension of airstrip in an airport in Baltimore and the analysis of storm water flow that would result from the construction. He used GIS for the analysis which I learned more about from Suzanne. As a project manager, Zach and Jake both said they do less technical work and have more of an organizing role.
I met a technical specialist name Terry who provided technical consulting in projects that would require his expertise. He told me that as an environmental consultant my career path would later diverge into a project manager role or a technical specialist role. This information on how a career as an environmental consultant would look gave me a better picture of which path I might want to take in the future.
I also talked to Suzanne who dealt with a lot of the technical aspects of a project. She works a lot with GIS and gave me a cool tour of what GIS does and how you work with it. She also advised me that it would be helpful to learn GIS as an undergraduate so that I would be able to apply these skills later in a job as an environmental engineer.