For Rola Hassoun '14, getting involved on campus opened the door to an internship at a major company, providing the confidence and the connections that lead to career success. She recently accepted a position as an entry-level environmental engineer for the Water Services Group at CDM Smith, an engineering and construction firm.
A civil and environmental engineering major, Rola was active with the UMass Dartmouth Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality and received funding from the Center to attend a Society of Women Engineers conference in her junior year.
Internship at Unilever
There, the New Bedford native met representatives from Unilever, a global producer of consumer goods.
"I approached them about an internship, but they told me they didn’t need interns in my major."
She did well in her interview, however, and was offered a position as a Safety, Health, and Environmental intern at Unilever’s Covington, TN location, the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream.
Advocating for greener living
Rola worked on several projects, including creating a recycling matrix, launching a Smarter Greener Living program through Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, and working on an environmental registry. She also designed a Safe Travel program, creating a system for company car use and improved driver safety.
Rola’s responsibilities included designing training programs for the Greener Living Campaign, which improved plant and employee sustainability efforts.
"By the end of my internship, I had developed a recycling manifesto by creating a recycling matrix that organized the recycling process around the 800,000 sq. ft. plant. I improved plant recycling efficiency by 33% with a production line matrix, a total possible savings of $290k per year."
Career confidence & a position as an environmental engineer
"Although I initially had doubts about working in a manufacturing plant, I enjoyed the work environment, as well as my coworkers,” Rola said, “The opportunities provided by Unilever are great."
"I learned a lot about the importance of safety in a manufacturing environment and the difficulties of recycling processes in big southern states, as well as the cooperation between the plant and the recycling company," she added.
"I've been more confident when applying for jobs because I have experience working for a major company," she said.
"I recently accepted an offer for an entry-level environmental engineer position with the Water Services Group at CDM Smith. CDM Smith provides lasting and integrated solutions in water, environment, transportation, energy and facilities to public and private clients worldwide. The position is concentrated on water and sewer system planning, modeling, and rehabilitation. I'll be focusing on water/wastewater pipeline, pump station and treatment plant planning, design and construction, as well as water quality analysis and modeling."
Designing an aqueduct system in Panama
Rola has been active on campus as the treasurer of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an Engineering Senator of the Student Government Association, and a member of the Society of Women Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers.
UMass Dartmouth allows students, professors, and the administration to collaborate. There's a wide range of student organizations you can get involved in.
Through EWB, she had the opportunity to participate in the design of a water aqueduct system for a native community in Panama.
“I was able to go on the second assessment trip, and it was a very interesting experience,” she said. “Working with an indigenous community and helping them help themselves was honestly an honor. They were always eager to work with us and lend their support. They were even eager to learn about the engineering aspects of the project, which was great.”
Support for success
Rola’s participation with the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality opened her eyes to how supportive the UMass Dartmouth community can be. After creating a body image workshop for the center, she presented it to first year students.
“The experience really impacted me because I saw how insecure young women are with their bodies. I’m proud to have been a part of the process in which they took a pledge to love themselves more.”
For Rola, the ability to connect with others is what makes UMass Dartmouth special.
“UMass Dartmouth allows students, professors, and the administration to collaborate comfortably,” she said. “There’s a wide range of student organizations you can get involved in, and there’s a lot of support for success from professors.”