Senior Spotlight: Paola Lopez

Senior year of college can be tough, with school work, internships and graduation, students feel the need to have a plan figured out on what they are going to do with their lives.

Paola Lopez, senior civil engineering major, plans on going back home to California after graduation up until the start date of her full time job, which is in August. She plans on then moving back to New York to start working.

“My major is civil engineering, my position is Engineer 1 or a field engineer, so hopefully I’ll be doing some type of field engineer work or maybe working under a designer. Every new engineer gets something different on a big project so I’ll find out when I start,” Lopez said.

Photo Courtesy of Paola Lopez.

Lopez took all of the necessary steps to secure this job right from the start by talking to career development to get help with putting her resume together. She had to find these resources herself and used what help was available to her.

“I got my job from my internship that I had this past summer at the Tappan Zee Bridge with Granite Construction. I went to the career fair for STEM majors and I went up to all of the booths and gave out my resume and talked to Human Resources and whoever was hiring. They contacted me for a phone interview, then I went in for a real interview and eventually they offered me a full time position. I was asked to come in for an interview last semester in the fall, and they offered me a full time position back at the Tappan Zee,” she said.

Lopez does not want to stop developing her skills. Her goal is to get her professional engineers license, which takes at least 5 or 6 years, so in the meantime she can stay with this company and gain experience.

“I chose this company because I knew they were based on the east coast and the west coast. I’m in the East coast department right now but if I ever wanted to go back home to California, I can be transferred and they would be pretty willing to help me out with that,” Lopez said.

Her love for engineering was inspired from a high school bridge competition that she participated in during her senior year. It urged her to make civil engineering her major and to stick with it.

“My internship ended up being at a real bridge and I was excited for that. At first I was wondering if it was right for me but then I got there and I loved it, so I am happy that I got to stay working on bridges and that I can continue this as my full time position. It is my dream starter job,” she said.

Although she is on a great path, there are a few things Lopez regrets not doing earlier in the year.

“I should have started before junior year to get my paper work, cover letter, and resume together. I wish I got an internship my sophomore year going into junior year to gain more experience. If I had more experience under my belt before getting a full time job, it would have been better.” she said. “I only had one summer internship so luckily my job is at the same place my internship was, so I know my way around, but if I was placed somewhere else, I would be especially more nervous because I’ve only worked on a bridge cite instead of a 40 story building.”

Despite not getting started as early as she would like, Lopez is still on a great path to becoming a successful engineer.