BCIT Civil Engineering student Julie Tran welcomes attendees at Big Info

BCIT Civil Engineering diploma student Julie Tran always knew that she was creative, but she didn’t know what she would pursue as a career until she started exploring her post-secondary options in grade 11. 

 “I was thinking a lot about what I would enjoy doing for the next 5 to 10 years without having to feel like the tasks I would be doing in the workforce are redundant or repetitive,” she says. 

Julie started noticing the new buildings being constructed in her community. “I couldn’t help but look at all the framework and wonder how they did all this,” she says. “Not every building is the same. I was fascinated and had to know more.” 

This led Julie down a rabbit-hole of researching construction jobs and landing on civil engineering. Julie learned that BCIT offers different program options in Civil Engineering and coincidentally, her high school career development teacher also sent an email about the Big Info event, the largest program expo and information session at BCIT. 

Pivotal moment at BCIT Big Info  

The bi-annual BCIT Big Info event offers thousands of attendees a chance to experience the BCIT Burnaby Campus while meeting one-on-one with faculty and students from programs in business and mediacomputing, and health to engineeringtrades, and applied sciences. Attendees learn about future career prospects and discover resources and services available to support students throughout their academic journey at BCIT. 

“I wasn’t set on Civil Engineering until after attending BCIT Big Info,” Julie says. “I learned more about different programs, women in engineering, as well as STEM. After chatting with a Civil Engineering student who was at the Women in Engineering booth, I knew Civil Engineering was the field that I wanted to be in. It is a career with in-demand job prospects and characteristics that match my interests, strengths, and personality.”   

She adds, “The practicality and hands-on experiences that come with BCIT programs ensures I will have the knowledge and skills that are relevant to industry.” 

campus tour at the BCIT Burnaby Campus a few months further solidified Julie’s decision. “I loved the BCIT campus and ambiance,” she adds. “Everywhere I looked, there were students working hard and doing hands-on assignments or projects – whether individually or collaboratively.” 

A flexible learning option to the Civil Engineering diploma

Initially, Julie planned to complete the Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering but later opted for the Civil Engineering diploma program. 

She chose this path due to the lighter course load and opportunity it gives her to study and work part-time. The diploma also opens-up promising career opportunities like being an engineering technologist.  

“Technologists and civil engineers are in high demand in our industry,” Julie says. “Most of the job postings I see are for technologists and they are well paid.”  

Julie plans to work for a couple of years and then return to BCIT to advance her studies into the Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering program.   

Being a woman in engineering and STEM

Julie speaks openly about her experience as a woman in engineering and STEM. “A lot of times, I have to prove myself to my peers,” she says. “I have worked hard to build the soft skills of asserting my ideas and being confident in what I am sharing with my peers.” 

While women are still underrepresented in the engineering profession, Julie shared that she has seen the number of women enrolled in BCIT engineering programs increase since she started the program. “I am seeing a positive shift towards gender diversity and breaking societal perceptions about how women can’t join STEM because it requires a different kind of thinking,” she says. 

Julie believes women bring unique strengths to engineering. “We solve problems differently than our male-identifying peers,” she says. “Many of us catch onto things that may be irrelevant at the time but come to play an integral role in a project down the line.”

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Tips for future engineering and STEM students

For anyone considering a career in engineering or STEM, Julie offers three pieces of advice to help navigate academic, personal, and professional success: 

  1. Maintain work-life balance. “Don’t focus all your life on school. I’ve learned that I can work hard and reward myself. I can time manage and stay on top of things,” she says. 
  2. Don’t fear the unknown. “It is easy to let what you’re afraid of hold you back, but it shouldn’t. It could hinder a possible lesson that can ultimately help you along your way,” Julie says.  
  3. Ask for help when you need it. “You can’t get anywhere in STEM without sharing, collaborating, and bouncing ideas off others. It is important to know where to look for help and when to do it,” Julie says.  

BCIT Student Life Ambassador connects students

Outside of her Civil Engineering program, Julie is a BCIT Student Life Ambassador – a role where she can help her fellow BCIT peers and contribute to fostering a vibrant student community. 

 “As a Student Life Ambassador, I connect students to services, resources, and supports that are available to help us succeed in our work and life,” explains Julie. “I also connect my peers with each other,” she says.  

“When I enrolled in BCIT, I didn’t know we had so many resources and support available to students – like free counselling and the Food Hub. I want to be that person to let people know that we do.” 

A rewarding career path in the Engineering field

BCIT offers innovative and hands-on degree and diploma options in a wider range of engineering fields. Choose an essential and ground-breaking profession that will hone your unique skillset.

Register to attend an in-person BCIT Engineering Panel Event on March 5 (5-6:30 pm) at the Burnaby Campus. You’ll hear from a panel of inspiring engineers in the field, followed by opportunities to speak with faculty and students from BCIT Engineering programs.