Shivani Kumar – Advice for Future Civil Engineering Students

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Shivani Kumar
Photo Courtesy of Shivani Kumar

Tell us about yourself.

I am a recent graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology who is currently pursuing my Masters of Civil Engineering focused in Structural Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). I consider myself someone who is passionate and driven in finding innovative and sustainable alternatives to current industry standards. I also am especially cognizant about how the construction industry has a moral responsibility to be socially aware of its practices and projects.

How was the Civil Engineering program at Wentworth Institute of Technology? 

I enjoyed my time in the Civil Engineering program at WIT. I felt I was exposed to theoretical and hands-on approaches in the various disciplines of Civil Engineering. This helped me understand where my strengths and interests lie. From there, I was able to apply for co-op positions that’d be able to show me how it would reflect in industry. I had a great network of professors who were insightful and ready to listen to what I wanted to get from my time at Wentworth. With that, I was able to make and take any opportunities I was ready to work for.

What advice would you give to students interested in majoring in Civil Engineering?

Do your research! Since Wentworth is a co-op school, prospective students should take the time to see what disciplines of Civil Engineering exist and what jobs are in the industry. Of course, these decisions aren’t set in stone, but it is good to have an idea of what may interest you. Additionally, something I didn’t know going into my undergraduate program was the various exams I would have to take to get different licenses later on in my career and that graduate school was something that would be necessary for where I want to be in the future. Take the time to talk to current students, recent alumni, and industry professionals who have been working for a while; their knowledge is invaluable!

What was your favorite thing about your Wentworth experience?

My favorite thing was the community. As someone who was very involved on campus, I was able to meet so many people from students, staff, and faculty. I made personal connections with them that led to things as small as grabbing a coffee and having a meeting to catch up as well as large as research opportunities and co-ops. I always felt supported if I needed to get career advice or just have someone to talk to. Wentworth can be as big or as small as you make it, so take the time to make these connections and stay in touch after you leave.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in at Wentworth?

I was a part of the American Society of Civil Engineers Steel Bridge Team, the Student Alumni Society, and Women’s Institute for Leadership and Development. Through my involvement in these groups, I found my voice at Wentworth. I was able to engage with those with similar interest that I may have not come across in my classes and attend competitions, alumni networking events, and leadership conferences. While Wentworth’s academics and co-ops strengthened me as a student and professional, these clubs strengthened me as a leader. I am very grateful for the time I was able to have as a part of them.

What advice would you give to students looking for a co-op?

Do your research and apply to whatever you may be even slightly interested in. For many, co-op is the first time they are having interviews in their future industry. By applying to several postings, you will be able to have more interviews and refine those skills. While you may be on the fence about the job from the posting, if you get an interview, take the time to go in and ask more about the company and the position. I have been pleasantly surprised with a few of mine. However, before going into the interview, take the time to do your research on the company. Their websites can tell you about what departments they have, their projects, their locations, etc. On LinkedIn, see if you already know someone at the company. If you don’t maybe you have a mutual connection who can introduce you to someone who is there. Use that resources to ask questions about the company, the software they use, and anything else you think could be helpful. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, make one now! When a candidate comes in with knowledge about the company, its team, and its projects, it becomes apparent you are serious about the job.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years, I see myself with my Masters in Civil Engineering focused in Structural Engineering degree and working as a Structural Engineer. I’d like to be working in an area that places a legitimate emphasis on sustainable and socially conscious design. At this point, I will also be studying for my Professional Engineering Exam.

Connect with Shivani on LinkedIn!


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