Civil Student Spotlight – Building and Maintaining Connections

Kimia Miraki

Program: Civil Engineering

Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science

Campus: Vancouver

What extracurricular activities are you currently involved in?

I am currently the co-president of the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineering) Student Chapter of UBC, where I am involved in leading our team through various projects. This year, our team has undertaken significant efforts, including organizing the ASCE x WIN (Women’s Infrastructure Network) Discussion Panel, focused on engineering careers for women in construction. Additionally, we’ve been diligently preparing for the 2024 Pacific Northwest Student Symposium, where 300 students from across West Coast will fly into UBC to participate in different competitions such as Concrete Canoe, Steel Bridge, Daniel W. Mead Paper, and Sustainable Solutions.

What are key steps you took that helped you land your co-op roles and achieve your goals?

Key steps that played a pivotal role in landing my co-op roles revolved around strategic networking and a genuine eagerness for learning and gaining industry experience. Initially, I prioritized expanding my professional network, actively engaging with industry professionals and peers at networking events. Additionally, maintaining strong connections with students and professors at UBC provided valuable insights for me. Throughout my involvement in student teams such as UBC Concrete Canoe, where I served as the Senior Project Management lead, I proactively reached out to sponsors and fostered positive relationships with companies, ultimately securing sponsorships to maintain a positive cash flow for the team. By remaining actively involved with industry members and continuously seeking opportunities for growth and development, I was able to pave the way for my career advancement.

What is your biggest tip for networking?

My biggest tip for networking is being authentic. People appreciate genuineness, so allow your personality to shine through. Ask thoughtful questions listen to fosters meaningful connections. Confidence is key; but understand balance between confidence and overconfidence. Lastly, remember, making connections is just the beginning; the real challenge lies in maintaining those valuable connections over time, so prioritize genuine engagement and follow-up. Ensuring an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a professional headshot can greatly enhance networking opportunities, whether engaging with UBC channels like the UBC Engineering Career Fair, Industry Night, and ASCE Lunch and Learn, or through external avenues such as the West Coast Career Fair and Women’s in Infrastructure Network discussion panels.

How do you balance being a student and your club involvements?

Balancing my responsibilities as a full-time student and being in clubs includes several key strategies. Firstly, I organize my tasks by setting a schedule using iCal, ensuring I allocate specific times and location for all commitments. Each week, I conduct a thorough review of my calendar to reflect on timings and make any necessary adjustments to avoid conflicts. Establishing and sticking to a routine has helped me maintain balance and effectively manage my time between academia and extracurriculars.

What has been the most memorable learning experience from your extracurricular involvements thus far?

One of the most memorable learning experiences from my extracurricular involvements thus far was as a candidate attendee at the ASCE Construction Institute Student Days. During this event, we were tasked with working on a bid proposal for an airport expansion project. With a strict deadline, we had just 48 hours to compile all necessary components, including cost estimates, crew allocation, and scheduling, for submission. Although it was challenging, I gained valuable insights into working effectively within a team under high-pressure circumstances. It taught me the importance of collaboration, adaptability, and resilience in navigating challenging environments.

What are your plans after you graduate this year?

After graduating this year, I am thrilled to begin my professional journey at Bird Construction as a Project Coordinator, where I did my last co-op with. Looking ahead, I will be returning to school after gaining a few years of work experience to pursue my MBA. 

Do you have any advice for current and future students? 

My advice for current and future students is to embrace and enjoy every moment of your academic journey. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you, including joining as many clubs and extracurricular activities as possible. Additionally, seek out mentors in your field of interest and leverage their expertise. Guidance from an industry professional can provide valuable insights and help ease your transition into the professional world. Last but not least, take any opportunity you can to travel. Traveling not only helps with relaxation, but it opens your mind about the world and different perspectives. Remember to stay curious, proactive, and open-minded, as each experience is an opportunity for growth and learning.