The four engineering graduates in this video have two things in common: one, they’re all from Newfoundland, and two, they all started their careers with Vale as students in a co-op work term or other short-term opportunity before growing into full-time opportunities after graduation.
After being awarded a Vale scholarship for some of her graduate work in the Master’s of Civil Engineering program at Western University, Erin Cullen was invited to work at the company’s nickel mine in Voisey’s Bay, Labrador, for four months. She had never been Labrador before, but she decided to take them up on the opportunity and discovered that she loved it.
“Then the opportunity came to have a full-time job. Obviously I jumped at it.” —Erin Cullen, Environmental Co-ordinator, Vale
“Then the opportunity came to have a full-time job,” she recalls. “Obviously I jumped at it.” Today, she’s an Environmental Co-ordinator in Voisey’s Bay.
Melissa Noftle, a 2013 graduate of the Co-op Engineering program at Memorial University of Newfoundland, first started her career with Vale on her fifth work term. “At that time, I was sort of thinking long-term about my career,” she says. Just a few weeks ago, she joined the company again as a full-time Junior Electrical Maintenance Engineer.
As a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Waterloo, Laura Parsons completed two work terms at Vale’s Argentia Hydrometallurgical Demonstration Plant, which preceded the company’s new Long Harbour Processing Plant and closed in 2010. When the opportunity in Long Harbour came up, Vale contacted her and asked her to return as a Process Engineer-In-Training in the Technical Services department.
For Josh Perry, a recent Memorial University of Newfoundland Mechanical Engineering graduate, he knew from day one of his work term that he wanted to work full-time with Vale. Now he works as a Junior Mechanical Maintenance Engineer.
Endless opportunities for training at Vale
When you’re first starting your career, training is an essential aspect of your career growth.
Erin says she thinks it’s great that, first and foremost, Vale does a lot of safety training.
“I think that’s really important when you’re working at an industrial site, especially as a new employee and a young employee, just to get your feet wet and understand the important aspects of safety,” she explains.
During her two work terms with Vale, Melissa was pleasantly surprised to discover just how much training Vale provides for students.
“They’ve always done their utmost to get students involved in the training they provide to full-time employees.”
—Melissa Noftle, Junior Electrical Maintenance Engineer, Vale
“They’ve always done their utmost to get students involved in the training they provide to full-time employees,” she says.
“Every day, someone comes to you and asks if you want to join a meeting or join a two-day training, three-day training,” Josh recalls from his time as a co-op student.
The training only gets better from there: “As an Engineer-In-Training,” he adds, “you actually get to develop your long-term training plan and your training matrix, and that can include week courses or courses throughout the country.”
Working with mentors to grow your career at Vale
At Vale, students and recent grads aren’t expected to figured out their training plan on their own.
Each of these young engineers works with their manager and coaches to determine their next steps in terms of training, experience and growth.
“We actually set up meetings with our supervisors and . . . [t]hey give their input on what training programs they think would be good for our position,” Josh explains.
“They take the time to get to know . . . what your interests are, what you want to do and where you want your career to go.”
—Laura Parsons, Process Engineer-In-Training, Vale
“Our coaches and manager are really great to work with, and they take the time to get to know the team and know what your interests are, what you want to do and where you want your career to go,” Laura says.
“It really makes a difference because then when projects come up, or new things that they know would be of interest come up, they’ll bring it to you and get you involved in that project. It’s been really great that way.”
Support for your Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) designation
“They’ll provide me with the training, knowledge and skills that I need for these three years in order to write my P.Eng. exam,” Melissa says.
Laura, who has already written the exam, says getting her log books signed off on was no issue. “Then when I actually went to write the exam, they fully supported it through funding, time to study and that kind of thing. It was definitely well supported,” she says.
And although Josh thinks it’s great that the company supports its young engineers, the most important thing to him is that he’s getting excellent engineering experience.
“Vale’s really supportive of getting your professional designation, which I really appreciate,” Erin says.