RU Student Life brings you our second interview in our Alumni Spotlight profile series. Read about Emerson’s journey at Ryerson and his career after graduation. Be sure to check out his final advice for students, we love his positive attitude!
What did you study at Ryerson and what year did you graduate?
Electrical Engineering (BEng) / Class of 2012
What made you choose that program? Was it related to the career you envisioned?
I did well in electronics in high school and thought it would be easy….boy was I wrong. It did, but not in the traditional sense i.e. Do electrical engineering become an electrical engineer. My vision was to someday own my own firm and engineering provided a chance to gain the best skill set to do so.
Were you involved in any clubs or societies as a student? What did you enjoy most about them? Do you think they provide benefits for students?
NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and WISA (West Indian Students Association) were those which I called home and I became vice president and president of those respectively. I was involved with several others but my involvement was kept to that of an average member. Certainly, student groups provide the chance to develop those soft skills which are vital when interacting with colleagues and clients as well as providing networking opportunities. Only you can determine what you extract from an opportunity and Ryerson does a good job of providing ones with limitless potential. Groups are always fun and that is key. You’ll find that you will make some of your best friends through these experiences.
What did you do immediately after graduation?
Took a vacation, 6 months to be exact! With hindsight I would strongly advise against doing so.
Describe Ryerson in three words
What is your job title?
Highlight some of your past work experience:
My experience is somewhat limited being a recent grad. I was offered a position and worked with Ryerson for a bit a as a Data Analyst an opportunity which I gained by virtue of networking and my involvement. It was great to see the flip side of things; how Ryerson functioned from the other side.
My current position sees me working with substations and high voltage transformers. It is fascinating seeing and interacting with the physical manifestation of what I studied and beginning to understand some of that stuff a bit more.
What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in your current job?
My ability to adapt and keeping a positive attitude. Most of what I do I had no formal training in before and truth be told my boss didn’t know if I would be able to do the work. But it’s been six months and I without complaint so I think it went smoothly enough…knock on wood ….which I think was down to my ability to adapt.
Secondly there are things which you may not like very much but a positive attitude always makes it better. I thoroughly dislike the cold but I have to work in it sometimes 4- 8 hours on end. Chin up , warm thoughts and its like you’re on a beach somewhere nice.
How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
Definitely change is coming for field engineering especially in power. There will be less need for persons on the ground due to increased automation and those who remain will have to be more highly trained academically.
What special advice would you give a student entering this field?
Preparation is key….build and nurture your network , ideally from 3rd year, so that when you are ready to head out into the work-world you will most likely have several offers awaiting you. Seize as many opportunities when you get out there and broaden your skill set as much as possible. This will inevitably make you more marketable.
What is the most important thing you took away from your experience at Ryerson?
1. Persevere…never give up
2. Always keep challenging yourself
Is there anything you wish they’d taught you at Ryerson?
1.Better networking strategies but you learn that along the way anyways.
2. More industry relevant software…autocad, solidworks, inventor and great tools to have
How do you stay motivated?
Having defined goals and knowing exactly how far away I am from them and what is therefore needed to achieve them.
What, in your opinion, are the keys to success?
Hard work and perseverance and a healthy dose of optimism.
Do you have any final advice for students?
Dream big….Define your goals…never give up…stay positive…and have fun
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