Alumni Features

Inside SAIT Environmental Technology

Valerie Eklund, left, Eric Magee, and Laura Carrier pose for a portrait at their office in Calgary on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The SAIT graduates all come from the Environmental Technology (EVT) program.

SAIT’s Environmental Technology (EVT) program is a small and close-knit group in the MacPhail School of Energy, whose graduates work in a wide variety of fields including conservation, remediation, and consulting.

 

Although the program is small, students have not been immune to the difficult employment realities facing graduates today. Many of the lessons learned by graduates of this program can be applied to every kind of career.

 

A number of SAIT EVT grads have landed at the Calgary office of Pinchin, a Canadian consulting company that specializes in a number of environmental, engineering, and testing services for a variety of industries.

 

Valerie Ekelund, who graduated from SAIT’s EVT program in 2011, is now a project manager in the environmental due diligence and remediation group at Pinchin.

 

“I found that the SAIT program made me figure out how to juggle a busy schedule, prioritize, and meet deadlines,” said Ekelund.

 

Picking a practicum

Ekelund’s journey to working full time at Pinchin started at SAIT, when she realized Pinchin was a company that could potentially hire her upon graduation. When it came time to choose a company to do her one-week practicum, she decided to work her practicum at Pinchin.

 

Eric Magee, another SAIT grad from 2011, who is also a project manager with the company, believes that success at Pinchin depends on attention to detail, something he learned during his time at SAIT.

 

“I would say, you can finish an assignment in school and get a C-plus or B-minus, and that’s fine, you pass,” said Magee.

 

“If you produce C-plus work in the workforce, that’s a fail.”

 

Making and keeping contacts

Magee also believes that much of his success depends on leveraging the contacts he has and keeping in touch with your classmates.

 

“I would say the biggest key to success for me early on was just keeping those contacts with my classmates, because you never know who could be your open door in the future,” said Magee.

 

“Everybody goes into the EVT program because they want to save the world,” said Laura Carrier, a project coordinator of hazardous materials and mould at Pinchin, and 2009 SAIT grad.

 

Carrier suggests that the one-week practicum is an important opportunity that can help students get a lot of important contacts in their related field of employment.

 

“A lot of those companies that take practicum students, they tend to try and hire them when they graduate, if there’s a position available,” said Carrier.

 

Make used of LinkedIn

In addition to getting job experience in related fields and developing good relationships with everybody you work with, 2016 EVT grad Brittney Champion, a project technologist with the hazardous materials division of Pinchin, also suggests that students leverage LinkedIn.

 

Champion attributes getting hired at Pinchin to being active on LinkedIn and keeping an up-to-date profile.

 

“Just try to be involved because I think that that’s what a lot of the recruiters do now these days,” said Champion.

 

Ultimately, many of the SAIT grads at Pinchin believe it’s necessary for students just graduating to be patient with their careers, because their dream job isn’t likely to land in their lap right away.

 

“You’ve got to be pretty much willing to take whatever job comes at you, just so you can get that experience to get going,” said Ekelund.

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