Name: Leanne Miller
Year of graduation: Dec 2009
Option Track (water/air/EDC…): Air
Current Job/Company: Civil Engineer II, City of Longmont
Past Job/Company: Project Engineer, JVA, Inc.
How your time at CU (and specifically in EVEN) set you apart? How has it helped you to succeed?
My time at CU pursuing an Environmental Engineering degree gave me a stronger background in chemistry and biology than many of the Civil Engineering graduates that I’ve encountered in the workforce. Additionally, the opportunities to participate in independent studies in my area of focus provided me with hands-on experience that helped guide my career path after college. I would also directly attribute my senior design project/competition as the springboard for my career. My capstone project provided me an opportunity to compete in a national design competition, which further provided me opportunities to network and ultimately find a job in the water/wastewater industry.
Do you have any tips or advice on the job search for seniors?
Network, network, network.
What do you currently do as an engineer for the city of Longmont?
My position provides internal technical assistance to various work groups within the Public Works and Natural Resources Department. This can range from projects pertaining to process optimization at the water and wastewater treatment plants, stormwater quality design review, and regulatory compliance assistance.
Many of our current students are interested in consulting jobs after graduation. As a consultant, what is your advice for student pursuing that career track?
I worked in the consulting industry for four years (at two different companies) before transitioning to the public sector. My advice would be to ask lots of questions about company culture during your interview. Think about what is important to you in a work environment and choose your position wisely. Once you’ve accepted your position, make sure to ask lots of questions. One of the most challenging things for me to learn out of school was to ask questions.
You were an engineering student and a member of the CU Triathlon team. How did you manage to balance between your academic and non-academic activities?
Barely! Just kidding, but, I think that being an endurance athlete with a demanding training schedule really helped me learn to manage my time and schedule my time well. It was important to be able to prioritize my time and work on a schedule. I know this method doesn’t work very well for all students, but it really helped me manage my time. Practicing time management and the ability to focus and get work done on a prescribed schedule during my undergraduate career has been a key skill for my professional success.
In your academic and professional career, you had a chance to be exposed to different areas including air, water, construction, traffic analysis, and administration. How important is being familiar with a variety of fields in the professional world?
That really depends. Academically, I think that being exposed to different modalities was very beneficial because it helps teach you how to solve problems in various environments and in situations where you may not be 100% comfortable or confident. This skill has been incredibly important in my career. Professionally, I think this question is more complex. For me, working in different firms, with different clients, and on different types of project has given me an opportunity to recognize my strengths and interests. The variety in my career thus far has helped me target my long term career goals and identify skills that I need to attain those goals. My career goals focus on organizational development, strategy, and management. For those types of positions, a wide breadth of career experience has many benefits. However, if I was passionate about process design and was striving to become a technical expert, the path may be different. The biggest challenge for students graduating with an EVEN degree is what I call, the problem of too many options. This continues throughout your career and can be challenging for people who are generally interested in everything (I tend to be one of these people). Rather than focusing on making sure you get lots of different experience, I think it’s more important to find what your strengths are and where your passions lie. Exposure to different areas can really help you determine what parts of your career you’d really like to pursue long term.
Do you wish to share your contact info for students or graduates looking to network?
Of course! Leanne.Miller@longmontcolorado.gov
March 23rd, 2015