Recent engineering grad lands job at major chemical corporation

For as long as he could remember, Thanh Nguyen '22 has always been drawn to STEM –– science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
 
“I've always grown up around the Southeast Texas area, so, this is what we know –– all of the plants and refineries. Being the oldest child in the family, I didn't want to take too long to graduate, I just wanted to get in and get a degree that could help set me up for a pretty decent future,” Nguyen said. “So engineering was that route and chemical engineering is what Lamar University is known for.”
 
Now, the recent chemical engineering graduate is taking what he learned in the Lamar University College of Engineering and applying it to his new role as improvement engineer at DOW Chemical Company, an American multinational chemical corporation among the three largest chemical producers in the world.

During his time at LU, Nguyen focused on building a space for Asian and Pacific Islander students in engineering and, during his sophomore year, he founded the Vietnamese Student Association, a student organization that aspires to build a sense of community among Vietnamese students and other interested parties by promoting the Vietnamese culture and heritage and raising awareness of cultural issues and interests. In his senior year, he founded the Block Chain Student Society, a student organization focusing on cryptocurrency. thanh-nguyen-1200x850

“Right now, the organization is trying to help LU student and have an official blockchain course for people to take. We piloted that course last semester where we just taught it ourselves and hosted events for that. So far, it's been going pretty well,” he said.

He later set his sights on networking and attending career fairs on and off campus, which helped him land his first internship with the Air Force Civilian Services in South Carolina as an environment engineering intern during his sophomore year. During his junior year, he earned an internship with Valero at the Port Arthur refinery as a process engineering intern and then later an internship with Nouryon in Houston as reliability/maintenance engineering intern.
 
“I think something that people kind of miss out on is the fact that networking helps a lot more than just applying for jobs. You can send out 100 applications and with that you can most likely get 100 rejections,” Nguyen said. “So, you know, going to these career fairs where you can actually put a face to a paper application, giving a good first impression –– that helps.”

He also served as an ambassador The Ion, an innovation space in Houston that brings together entrepreneurial, corporate and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs.
 
“I want to send a shout out to Dr. Helen Lou in the chemical engineering department because she let me know about the opportunity with The Ion, which is a major tech community, and it gave me more exposure to the tech side of things,” he said.
 
Nguyen said it’s opportunities like internships and networking events that help build rapport with future employers.
 
“So, this is where you have to really practice your soft skills and just going out to events, they don't have to be career fairs, but just professional networking events. Maybe you won't necessarily go into engineering, but there's a lot of people out there who are doing startups and maybe you can find your future business partner out there or future employer,” he said. “Being involved on campus and getting involved in internships also give you something to talk about with future employers. Lamar University has the resources and the professors to help you get to where you need to be for sure.”

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