From Student To Transmission Line Engineer: My Experience With Starting At Pickett Right Out Of College

By Felix Lee, Associate Engineer

There is no doubt that as you approach your final years of being a student, the prospect of leaving the safety nest of the education system to start a career for yourself can be a daunting transition for many, let alone during an unprecedented pandemic. As a very recent graduate myself, having earned my B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan in December 2020, I hope to offer some insight for those in a similar place on how I found my home as an Associate Engineer at Pickett and found my feet in the transmission line industry.

After two summer internships at a construction and transportation consulting company, respectively, I still had not found my calling within the civil engineering field and was searching for a new experience. I happened upon Pickett’s booth at the University of Michigan Civil Engineering Career Fair in the Winter of 2019 and, after a pleasant conversation with a Director of Engineering, I was invited back for an interview for a summer internship opportunity. My interview with the Ann Arbor team was conversational and comfortable, and instilled me with confidence that an internship at Pickett would be a great learning experience.

Unfortunately, with the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing safety concerns, my summer internship was postponed until the Fall, and, when my internship picked back up in November, Pickett was utterly accommodating of my education, allowing me to build my internship schedule around my school schedule, which allowed for an easier transition from school to work life after graduation. Since starting at Pickett, I have been exposed to countless aspects of the transmission Line industry through participating in meetings and presentations, shadowing and walk-through sessions with my colleagues, and assisting with drafting. I am now deep into my first big transmission Line project, and the team has been nothing but helpful as I learn the ropes on how to navigate PLS-CADD, the industry-standard software for transmission line design and analysis.

My time at Pickett has made it evident that the work of a Transmission Line Engineer requires a broad understanding and application of the vast scope of civil engineering knowledge that one acquires throughout their education, from Statics, to Soil Dynamics, to Materials, which I have found to be a gratifying aspect of my transition to Pickett. Furthermore, it is clear that what I have learned at school has only served as a prerequisite to prepare me for the wealth of industry-specific engineering knowledge that I continue to learn moving forward in my career. With ever-shifting codes and technologies, I know that my time as a student and learner won’t ever come to an end, and the Pickett team has been amazingly accommodating of my inexperience and encouraging of my willingness to grow.

Pickett has gone above and beyond to reassure me that it is the right company for me to find my footing as a professional. Their internship program allowed for a seamless transition from university to working full-time. I am surrounded by experienced and generous colleagues who have displayed time and time again that they are willing to be mentors and have faith in my growth as an engineer. Pickett has allowed me to feel at ease and flourish during a global pandemic, with its focus on safety and work-life balance. Furthermore, the company has made it obvious that fostering genuine connections with colleagues as well as the community is one of its big priorities. I myself having already participated in company-wide seminars and community charity outreach events, which have served as reminders that a fulfilling career as an engineer goes beyond performing calculations – but to work effectively alongside a diverse team and to serve the community around us.