NAC Class of 2011 Alum Ervin Meneses Lands an Out-of-State Engineering Internship

When class of 2011 NAC alum Ervin Meneses joined the NAC during his junior year in high school, he already had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do after graduation: Engineering. Though he continues to explore his options at Union College in New York, his current internship has taken him out of the classroom and into real world working environments around the United States.
NAC: Did you know you wanted to go into Engineering before going to college? If so, how did that factor into your decision to attend Union? Is there anything you’d like to say about Union’s Engineering program(s)?
Ervin: Yes, I knew I wanted to do engineering before going to college. Well, wanting to pursue a career in engineering did play role in my college decision, but it wasn’t the most influential variable. I think Union’s Engineering program is one of the best in the nation. Even though I just finished my freshmen year, I feel they do a fantastic job in preparing their students for real world situations and applications of the material that is learned in class. I strongly believe that Union has a very strong and diverse engineering staff that devotes numerous hours outside of the classroom for students, whether it is helping a student (or a group of students) with a class project, office hours, or even going to sports or performing art events where they go with their families just to support their student(s). I’ve met a lot of engineering students who don’t have the opportunity to study abroad at their school; I must add that Union does a really good job in incorporating an abroad term in an engineering student’s rigorous curriculum. There is more to say, but I’ll stop here.
NAC: How did you find out about the internship you’re participating in? Is it through any particular program, or did you find it on your own, or were you told from an advisor, etc.?
Ervin: My former physics professor, Dr. Gary Reynolds, sent me a message through Facebook letting me know that the company his daughter works for was looking for engineering interns for this summer. He said, “You’re the only one I know whom I can truly recommend.” I was flattered that he said that. I responded and told him I was interested in the internship. He gave me his daughter’s e-mail, and I sent her a message letting her know that I was interested in the internship her company was offering. I sent her my resume along with 3 letters of recommendation. One from my counselor Gerry Oxx, the second one was from Dr. Reynolds, and the third one was from Dr. Reginald Penner. Dr. Penner is a Chemistry professor at the University of California, Irvine; I worked in his lab during the summer of 2010. Before finishing my first year of college, I had already planned on getting a summer job in order to help out my parents with the bills, but I never imagined I would be landing a paid internship in Boston, which is a place I’ve been wanting to visit since my dream school (MIT) is near by.
NAC: It’s great that you’ll be traveling for the internship. Will you travel to places other than Boston? If so, how long will you be on the road?
Ervin: There are some people in the company that do field work, and, luckily for me, the company has plans to send me along with real engineers (people that have a degree already) into the field. Sometimes going working in the field requires some traveling. As of right now, I’m scheduled to do some fieldwork in Denver, Colorado, and Baltimore, Maryland. One of my advisors mentioned flying out to some northeastern states, but the destinations are not set yet. I do recall them mentioning going to DC mid-August, so hopefully that project doesn’t get canceled. All these trips are subject to change. The clients sometimes cancel projects, so one doesn’t end up traveling. In the end, if I travel or not it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m content with the opportunity to work for this company.
NAC: About the internship: What’s the general goal for you in completing the internship? Are you working on any exciting projects that you can talk about? Are you working for more than one company? Basically, tell us what you want us to know about the internship.
Ervin: As stated previously, I just finished my first year of college and with that being said I feel that I still have a lot to learn and experience. My main goal is to get an experience that will help me in the long run as a future engineer as well as inform me if this is what I really want to pursue. Having this internship will allow to me see and experience things I am bound to do later on in the future. My way of seeing it is if I like it right now, I’ll like it later; but if I don’t, then I guess engineering isn’t really for me. The internship has provided me with a lot of hands-on experience, which I think will benefit me in the long run when applying to other positions related to engineering, or energy efficiency.
I’ve met people who currently hold high positions in their field; the network I have created here is extraordinary. I have no doubt in my mind that the connections I’ve made here are, and will be, helpful later down the road. Cadmus is a cutting edge engineering consulting company specializing in energy and water projects.  I’m in the energy department. Right now, I’m currently working on a project that involves programming a micro-controller that will send current signals to solenoid water valves. These signals will open the valves and allow water to flow to certain areas in a house for a certain time interval. The second half of this experiment is sending a message to the water valve and telling it to stop once a certain temperature has been reached or certain volume has been let out. Here at Cadmus, I provide technical support for data collection and analysis of energy efficiency projects. I also assist with meter testing, assembly, and installations.
NAC: Is this internship just a part of something bigger relating to your future goals (or how does it relate to your goals)? Will you be part of this program in the future, or possibly work for any involved companies?
Ervin: Getting an internship has always been a goal for me, but getting a paid engineering internship in a different state never crossed my mind. I have a lot of goals in life; one of them is being successful engineer, but that’s a long time from now. My main goal has and will always be helping my parents out of our financial debt and being able to provide anything they need. With that being said, this internship has truly been a blessing; it has enabled me help my parents with some of the bills that we as a family have accrued.  As their son, being able to help them in this manner and removing some of that stress off their shoulders, fuels my drive for success. As far as being part of this company in the future, I honestly don’t know. It could be a possibility; it all depends on how well I do my job this summer. It would be great to come back and work with a group of staff as great as the ones I’m working with right now, but only time will tell.
NAC: Any advice for current or future NAC students?
Ervin: I recently had a conversation with one of the individuals who decided to hire me for this internship. I asked that individual what he looks for in an applicant, or how he choose who to bring on board.  That individual told me that he looks for people who showcase leadership qualities as well as people who take the initiative.
For future and current NAC students, my advice to you guys would be to take the initiative and be a leader. Companies want to hire people that take the initiative and have leadership qualities. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.  Create a network with the people you meet. When you go to an event, whether it be a fancy dinner, college visit, or your friend’s party, make sure to introduce yourself; you never know whom you might meet.  Make yourself stand out (in a good manner); this comes into play with applying for jobs because, believe it or not, first impressions are really important. The person reviewing your application can easily be an individual you’ve met before and that individual can either put you in the pile of people that will not be considered or put you at the top of the pile of people who they think will be a great addition to their company. I’m not saying that this is the only factor that plays a role in the process; I’m saying that things like this can occur and that it is really important to take the initiative show leadership qualities and create a network with the people you meet.

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