Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Melissa Guevara and I'm a senior civil engineering student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. I'm also a first-generation Latina STEM student. I will be the first person in my whole, entire family to graduate with a bachelor's degree.
What are you working on?
Currently, I am an assistant design engineer at a land development consulting firm in Newark, New Jersey. All of the projects I'm working on consist of urban planning and commercial/residential/industrial development. Additionally, I'm preparing to take the FE exam in October. This exam takes about 6 hours to complete so I have been dedicating a lot of time to it, just like any other project.
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced being a civil engineer?
As a minority and woman in civil engineering, I have faced discrimination and prejudice. It's challenging to overcome these barriers but it has only made me stronger. This strength has led me to accomplish more in my career than I've ever imagined.
I believe that it is up to us, the very few women engineers, to show other women that we are capable of doing our job
What are your goals?
One of my biggest goals at the moment is to inspire other women to join STEM. I want all women to know that the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields need more people like us. The STEM world is lacking the perspective of half the world's population. Women are fundamentally different! Imagine how much further we can get with more women on our team.
Do you have a mentor?
My mentor is my boss. I look up to him because of how far he has gotten in the engineering industry while being humble and authentic. He's always willing to teach me new things, advocates for me and respects me. I'm beyond grateful for all the career opportunities he has given me.
Do you mentor anyone?
I mentor my little 12 year old sister who's in 7th grade. I see a lot of myself in her! I push her to believe in herself, love herself and be the best version of herself always. There was so much I didn't know at her age so to be able to guide her to become better than me is great. Being an older sister is truly a blessing.
What could the engineering industry do to better foster female talent?
The engineering industry is still very male-dominant. I believe that it is up to us, the very few women engineers, to show other women that we are capable of doing our job. We belong in this industry and no one can tell us otherwise. It is also up to the men in the engineering industry to provide equal learning opportunities for all.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
My advice to students entering the STEM world is to be yourself, always keep an open mind and never give up. Your journey will not be easy, but the important thing is to keep going. Set high standards for yourself but also take it day by day. You are right where you need to be, there is no rush in your career journey.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
I follow all STEM blogs with empowerment and educational purposes! Right now, I am loving @engineeringgals and all the beautiful women who get on their platform to tell their stories.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
Definitely follow me on Instagram @thecivilengineergirl. I use my platform to provide educational resources, advice and empowerment tools that have personally helped me to get to where I am today. Also, if you're planning on taking the FE exam I post several practice problems to prepare you for your exam date!