Behind the career: Civil Engineering

Being a civil engineer - Julia

Julia

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2020
  • Program: Civil Engineering
  • Campus: Vancouver

Design Engineer I at Mark Thomas (A/E) 

Like many students, Julia did not know what she wanted to do in the future, and because of this she transferred into Civil Engineering because of the broad range of opportunities that comes with the program. Little did she know how much impact she would be able to bring to the field. After studying and working in the field throughout the years, Julia soon realized her favourite part of being a civil engineer is not the diverse opportunities of the specialization, but being able to be “part of a profession that is able to shape society.” 

“Especially with civil engineers, when you are working on these big public projects with a variety of different stakeholders from drastically different backgrounds,” Julia explains, “the most important skill of an engineer is really being able to listen to people better.” Through honing in on listening skills and empathy, Julia hopes to show that engineers must be good listeners to design something beneficial for everyone, especially Indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups. 

Being a listener also plays a role beyond just the projects themselves. Although WOC remain an underrepresented group in engineering, Julia never had an issue finding a supportive community: “There are so many people in engineering, you will find people who will enrich your life — you just got to know where to look,” she explains. Julia recalls a story of when she was an intern and feeling like she had to keep apologizing for herself as her boss critiqued her designs. Her boss told her that she does not need to apologize for not knowing anything and told her one of the most impactful lessons she carries throughout her career till this day: to not feel like you need to make yourself smaller as a WOC. Julia’s boss explained how white authorities in the field need to better educate themselves on these issues and then connected Julia to a fellow Filipina mentor! 

When asked what she would tell her younger self before she pursued engineering, her response was simple: “I would tell myself that I belong. Regardless of all the other faces in the room, I deserve to be there too.” 

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