Program Completed at Western: BSc, Honors Specialization in Environmental Science
Year of Graduation: 2015
Internship/Co-op Employer: Sanofi Pasteur
Internship/Co-op Job Title: Environmental Intern
Current job title and employer: Senior Environmental Officer at Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Describe the work you performed on Internship/Co-op:
My role at Sanofi Pasteur was to support the site’s environmental program including the following:
- Acting as the site’s waste coordinator, managing the proper disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste for a 30-building campus.
- Completing various projects to support the site’s aggressive 2020 sustainability goals and ISO 14001 certification.
- Regularly completing internal and government-mandated environmental reporting, wastewater sampling, and spill response.
- Conducting regular campus-wide inspections reviewing parameters such as spill containment, biohazard safety, waste disposal, personal protective equipment, and chemical storage.
Describe your current employment activities:
As an Environmental Officer, I regularly perform the following duties:
- Assess compliance with environmental legislation, regulations, and policies by inspecting, monitoring, and conducting field assessments on sources of air, water, and land pollution.
- Provide technical expertise and advise on pollution control and environmental legislation requirements to the regulated community.
- Respond to complaints and spills to address impacts to human health and the environment.
- Testify in legal proceedings and issue Provincial Officer's Orders and Provincial Offence Notices.
Are you glad you did the internship/co-op?
I am very glad I completed an internship during my undergraduate studies at Western University. I feel the practical experience and knowledge I gained during my internship has had an integral role in the success I have had thus far in my career. My time at Sanofi Pasteur not only exposed me to various aspects of the environmental industry but also allowed me to gain new skills, network with environmental professionals, and build confidence as a young working professional.
In your opinion, are students who completed internship/co-op more competitive for jobs after graduation than those who did not?
Yes, I believe students are more competitive in the workforce after graduation if they have completed an internship/co-op during their undergraduate studies. An internship provides hands-on, practical experience that creates a well-rounded applicant when paired with the knowledge gained through university courses. In addition, internships allow students to network with professionals in their desired field. These connections become very important when searching for potential jobs and building references for resumes.
Did the year away from school affect your grades?
Although getting back into the groove of studying and classes can be challenging at first, I did not find it affected my performance in my fourth-year courses. I was also able to use the credit earned during my internship towards my degree, lightening my course load, which I feel improved my grades in my last year.
What is better about long-term co-op vs. short term?
One of the challenging aspects of any new job, including an internship, is becoming familiar with the new position and gaining the skills and knowledge required to perform well in the position. With a longer internship, you are able to work past this learning curve and dig deeper into your position to gain more valuable experiences.