Hemanshu Anand currently studies in the Chemical Engineering program at McGill University. He shares his experiences in engineering and how is summer internship has guided his studies.
Interviewer’s note: the first portion of this interview is related to the interviewee’s academic career at McGill University. The second portion of this interview is related to an internship opportunity acquired by the interviewee.
Tell us about what you (have) studied at McGill
I am currently pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering (B.Eng).
Interviewer’s note: for more information regarding the Chemical Engineering program at McGill University, please refer to https://www.mcgill.ca/chemeng/
What are you planning to do after graduation? Or… What have you been doing since graduation?
There are people who have a pretty good idea of what they want to do — and that’s great — and then there are people who are still dipping their toes in different waters — and that’s not any less great.
I know I want to work in the industry after graduating, but as of now, I have no idea in what field. I like topics in pollution control and energy management — but I still have a few years to try other topics before I have to decide. And I’d like to explore these different topics either through class material, or internships.
What are some pros and cons about your program?
The pros and cons are never black and white in Chemical Engineering. The program by nature has a very intense course load, and not because of the number of credits (in fact, Mechanical Engineering has more required credits), but because Chemical Engineering covers a little bit of nearly all other disciplines of engineering — mechanical, materials, mining, bio, civil, and a little electrical, and computer. As a result, we’re taught a wide variety of topics, in fields that we’re not necessarily experts in. And while this may initially seem quite daunting, it is also something that us, as students will be grateful for after graduating.
Prioritizing school and life is always a challenge — with any major — but in the end it’s the people you meet that make it worth the energy.
What’s one thing you’re proud about during your McGill Career?
Frankly, I’m proud of being a student at McGill, studying Chemical Engineering because it’s certainly a challenge. It’s not easy and can be pretty stressful at times, but at the end of every completed semester, the feeling of accomplishment is extremely motivating for me. So, while the material is difficult, and the workload is heavy, it’s empowering to know that I’m able to overcome these challenges as a product of my own perseverance.
What advice would you give to younglings at McGill? Or… If you were to go back to your first year, what would you have done differently?
As more engineering specific advice, I’d recommend that you don’t take your U0/U1 group A/B complementary courses in your first year. Spread them out or save them until your last year if you can manage — or you’ll be stuck with 17 credits of 400-level engineering courses in your final years of study. While that may not seem so bad right now, it will be by the time you get there.
As for more general advice, reach out to the older students by joining extra-curricular activities or by going to department events. They’ve already gone through what you’re currently going through, there’s no better resource than that.
The veterans love to give advice (and complain tbh) and it will prepare you better than anything else, so just ask!
Lastly, nowhere does it say that you have to finish your degree in the recommended amount of time. Things happen, and frankly, nobody cares if you take an extra year, because, in the end, it is about what you bring as a person to the organization you end up working for. And if that means you’ll stay an extra semester, or two to brush up on your technical/soft skills, you’ll be better off than if you were to rush your degree.
Tell us about your summer internship and how you acquired it.
I applied to approximately 20 positions over the summer — all rejected me. The amount of emails that say, “thank you for applying but…” in my mailbox is pretty crazy. But, that doesn’t matter because companies don’t care how many rejection letters you have, they care that you keep trying despite the number of rejection letters.
I finally received an offer from Camfil Power System to work as a lab engineering intern for 4 months during the fall 2018 semester. After some thinking (and making sure McGill was okay with taking a semester off of school for work), I accepted the offer. So, I tested & troubleshot new and old air-filters for plants and refineries, made reports, and occasionally got to talk to clients.
How did this internship steer the course of your career?
This is a difficult question to answer, but I think it has given me an idea of what working in the industry is/should be. I had a great time working for Camfil Power, the work environment was friendly, and I had some great co-workers. As for the actual work, while it was tedious at times, it was great exposure to what working in that field would be like. That said, I think I would like to continue trying out different fields with my remaining internships before graduation.