An initiative that makes a difference for future women engineers

September 19, 2022

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jorisch and her internship mentor, Roba Al-Sous, civil engineer and design team lead, to learn more about their experience and EXP’s role in promoting women in STEM.

Jorisch, tell us about Concordia University’s WIE-CLE internship option and why you chose to apply to it.

Jorisch: WIE-CLE offers mentoring opportunities for women studying engineering and computer science over the course of an internship and to help ease their transition into the engineering industry. Through this internship, students are paired with a mentor in the workplace who provides them with technical guidance and help them develop personal skills.

I decided to take part in this initiative because I think it is a great learning experience, a unique opportunity to develop communications skills as well as learn time and stress management. Also, with my bachelor’s degree almost complete, this internship will be great for my transition from an educational setting to a professional environment.  

Roba, how did you hear about this initiative?

Roba: Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education first presented the WIE-CLE option to EXP. Of course, it was natural for us to participate in it, given EXP’s commitment to promote and support the advancement of women in engineering. After interviewing Jorisch and speaking with her, I realized how much the course reminded me of myself when I was finishing school and getting ready to start my engineering career. All the right elements were there for us to welcome her for the summer.

As Jorisch’s mentor, your role is, among other things, to help her discover the aspects of consulting engineering. What made you decide to take on this important role?

Roba: It is a great initiative, as it furthers the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec’s commitment to support Engineer Canada’s 30 by 30 goal. Currently, women only make up 18.1% of working engineers in the industry, and the drop-out rate in engineering programs is high. WIE-CLE is an opportunity to make a difference for future women engineers and to work with them on entering the engineering industry. As the internship progresses, I realize that I would have benefitted from such an initiative had one been offered when I was in university so, getting involved was only natural.

Also, since I started at EXP three years ago, I’ve felt welcomed, supported and most of all, listened to, in my ambitions. In fact, I was promoted to team leader almost one year ago, after I showed an interest in the position. Mentorship is also very important to act as a platform to share possible opportunities for learning and growth in a role.

Roba, in your opinion, what are the most important elements to discuss with a future engineer to support her integration into the industry? What measures are you taking?

Roba: While at EXP, Jorisch has worked with several engineers, including Véronique Simoneau, one of my colleagues who also acts as an engineering mentor to Jorisch. My mentorship tactic focuses primarily on professional development, leadership skills and how to access to the civil engineering industry, all topics that she had identified as interest. Through weekly meetings, we discussed these topics, in addition to open discussions with women at EXP from different sectors. They discuss their career paths, challenges they have faced and what a typical day at work is like for them and they provide Jorisch with a diverse range of resources and advice to grow her career. We need to remember that in engineering, women can thrive and have a stimulating and rewarding careers. We just need to believe in ourselves and our skills!

Jorisch, what advice do you think will be the most helpful, in your opinion, once you are in the job market?

Jorisch: During our first meeting, Roba shared two important things with me that I have keep in mind. The first is that we need to know and embrace who we are. The second is that no one is going to create a place for us, we must create it ourselves, without hesitation.   

At EXP, we believe in the importance of mentoring the next generation. The internship experience offers the next generation of women in STEM the technical experience, networking skills and resources to advance in the field of engineering, emphasizing their place in the industry.

Join our team as an intern to gain practical and significant experience! See EXP open positions here.

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