Students put best foot forward at AREMA Conference networking event

Written by Jennifer Nunez, Assistant Editor, Railway Track & Structures
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Part two of the Student Program, part of the AREMA Conference at Railway Interchange 2015, proved to be a huge success this year. The volume of students attending both the panel discussion and networking event was considerably larger than in years past. This is just one indication of the growing opportunity and increasing interest for young engineers in this industry.

The five-person panel included Ineaka Carbo, project engineer at BNSF; David Ferryman, vice president systems engineering at Canadian National; Rick Nevinger, consultant at CSX; Don Sepulveda, executive officer at Regional Rail, Metro and Matt Walicki, consultant project manager at AECOM. The panel was artfully moderated by Jacqueline Patterson, president of J.L. Patterson & Associates.

Students posed questions for the experienced group, which revolved around topics, such as a typical workday, entrepreneurship in the industry and work/life balance. It was said that work/life balance can be obtained, but one must really work at it to make it happen. One panelist said that you must be upfront with those who you bring into your lives and make sure they understand the scheduling and career moves ahead. “Just be upfront,” was the key message.

One piece of advice that may have stuck to those in attendance was being happy where you work. One panelist said that “you work for 40-plus years; you spend most of your waking hours at your job, so make sure it’s what you want to do and make sure you have fun doing it.” This piece of valued advice can be utilized in just about any career path and is one that is often overlooked in the world of finding competitive salaries and trendy locations. Happiness needs to be valued, as well.

Immediately following the always-informative panel discussion, students eagerly made their way to the networking reception next door, where prospective employers from railroads, engineering firms and consulting firms were waiting to speak with the next generation and accept resumes for possible future working relationships.

This was the tenth year of this event and it continues to grow each year. The Meet the Next Generation event was hosted by AREMA Committee 24 – Education & Training.

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