Author: Cieana Detloff
June is a time for celebration! Especially for new graduates completing their college programs and preparing to enter the workforce! While women are under-represented in the field of engineering, we are seeing change – and no matter how gradual, it’s important to shine a light on the cultural shift taking place. For this reason, we wanted to share how proud we are of one recent Engineering graduate: Meredith Johnson!
Meredith has just graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Science degree. “I knew I wanted to go into a math and science field in college, and because members of my family are engineers, I decided to go into engineering,” shares Johnson. “At first, I didn’t really know what kind of engineer I wanted to be. Even though I went in as ‘undecided’, I took the entry-level biochem engineering class and realized I loved everything about biology and chemistry.”
Before completing her degree, Meredith completed an internship at ConAgra where she gained first-hand experience in a food manufacturing facility. “I was super glad to have an internship to ‘get my feet wet’ in the food industry because, otherwise, I would be going out there not knowing what’s going on or what to expect in a manufacturing plant.”
When asked if school properly prepared her for the experience, Johnson replied, “I think so. Engineering is a lot of problem-solving, so even though my internship wasn’t titled ‘engineering’, there was still a lot of problem-solving, figuring out what to do, and using those analytical skills to get the job done.”
Johnson goes on to explain that acting as a TA for an interpersonal skills class helped her “come out of her shell” to be a better communicator. “My time as a TA has helped me become more confident in how I speak to people, it’s helped me as a leader and a communicator – especially being around people who may not have the best ‘people skills’ – as engineers are famously stereotyped to be (and many usually are) introverted. It can be hard to get them to talk about things, but having that job with another TA, teaching topics like empathy, conflict resolution, communication – it’s helped me as much as it helped them.”
With a job lined up at Ardent Mills in the food safety / quality department, Meredith is hitting the ground running in the field in which she is most passionate! “It’s estimated there are going to be about 9 billion people by the year 2050, and we’re not going to have enough ways to feed them with the way we’re currently doing things, so going into this field of biochem / food production, I feel like I could contribute to that effort and hopefully find solutions to feed the global population by 2050.”
Congratulations, Meredith! Empowering Women in Industry looks forward to keeping up with you throughout your career!