I grew up in a citrus community in deep South Texas. Not surprisingly, I must have heard my grandpa tell me, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" more than I can count. Never did that advice mean more than when I graduated from college during an economic downturn and could not find a job.
I took the opportunity to return to school at Virginia Commonwealth University for a second, more rewarding degree. I am currently a rising junior at VCU studying mechanical engineering with a concentration in nuclear engineering. I’m also working as an intern in the Mechanical Design area for Nuclear Design Engineering Services at Dominion’s Innsbrook location.
As an intern, I have been able to experience a broad range of opportunities at Dominion. I have been involved in design calculations, process problem solving, and I’ve even been able to play a part in reviewing several projects for implementation. Every week has presented a different type of challenge and shown me a new area of the industry. Even better was that I always felt that I was adding value. There were several times where not only were my ideas considered, but they were sought after. My department seemed open to giving me projects and trusting that I would ask questions for anything I needed. This kind of integration into the department helped me feel like a valuable member of the team.
One project that I worked on was an evaluation to determine the effects of replacing insulation from drain piping while the power station was online. This project was especially significant because there was no industry experience in a project like this. The results of the evaluation I helped develop are to be applied throughout this project’s completion. This project allowed me to stretch beyond my experience level and develop as an engineer with the guidance of my mentor. I am so grateful for chances to explore developing advances like this through Dominion’s internship program.
When I was looking for an internship I wanted to work for a company that was a leader in its industry, one that has a good reputation and lots of opportunities. Just going down my list, it did not surprise me that Dominion had everything I was looking for in an internship. What did surprise me was how many other experiences being part of the Dominion culture would lead to. While here, I have had the opportunity to organize daily basketball games, attend intern events almost weekly, and even go out for the occasional intern lunch.
At school, it’s easy to describe myself as an engineering student; defined by lots of classes, marathon study sessions, and killer tests. After this internship, I can now see myself as a future engineer where my knowledge is applied and my contributions have real impact to the world around me. Knowing the application of my course work will help me become a better engineer in the long run. The experience I have gained through this internship has cemented my desire to be an engineer and will help guide me as I figure out what my future holds. Maybe I will be sipping my lemonade here at Dominion for years to come.