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Michelle Rinehart

Profession/Title: University Lab Safety Specialist

Business/Company Name: University of Texas at Dallas

Date of Interview: 10/27/20

Assessment: 

        This interview was conducted with Michelle Rinehart a University Lab Safety Specialist at The University of Texas at Dallas. I met Ms. Rinehart at an informational session for Colorado School of Mines and  learned that she got a degree in biochemical and chemical engineering but she had entered the safety side of academia. This completely different path from what I have typically seen pushed me to reach out to her as I wanted to learn more about how and why she has chosen this path for her career. 

        When asking Ms. Rinehart about how she became a safety specialist at UTD, I included questions regarding where she had gone after college, what led her to return to academia, and how she ended up being part of a safety team at a university. She explained that originally after receiving her bachelor's degree from Colorado School of Mines and then obtaining her master’s degree, she had decided to go into research for biotech engineering. This particular field required hours of detailed work where she would look into the exact science and application behind every single component of a certain piece of technology. Ms. Rinehart explained that she did not end up enjoying this job the way she thought she would because of the intense detailed work that did not interest her every day. This information was quite interesting to me because I have always assumed that I would likely pursue some kind of career in research regarding chemical engineering but now I wonder if I need to gather more information regarding how this research works. What if I am not the kind of person who is willing to spend years picking apart a small piece of equipment? I definitely want to be stimulated and happy whatever I end up doing. I was grateful that Ms. Rinehart was able to share these details about her experience because I think it will allow me to grow from what she has learned and take a different look at my prospective career options. 

        I was very glad to hear about the versatility that a chemical engineering degree has to offer. The ability to perform many different jobs using this training from the degree was something that had drawn me to chemical engineering. I want to have all kinds of opportunities open to me, so when Ms. Rinehart explained all of the different kinds of jobs that she has had over the course of her career, it gave me comfort that this desire would be able to be fulfilled by the path I was taking. This view of all of the different options I may have has certainly prompted me to start doing some research regarding the different occupations that many chemical engineers have. I am excited to learn more about all of the avenues that I may be able to go down and how those avenues will shape my experience in college and my future career.

        One of the other things that we talked about was her experience at Colorado School of Mines and how her education there prepared her for the professional world. Colorado School of Mines is the top school on my list and I wanted to get a first hand account of the experiences she had at the school and the ways in which the school had given Ms. Rinehart the necessary skills to succeed. Ms. Rinehart explained that Mines prepared her in numerous ways by improving her communication skills, obviously teaching her the needed technical skills, and overall giving her a way to find her niche in her prospective field. I was extremely glad to hear that this school prepares its students so well for their professional career and has definitely added several pros regarding the school to my list. I was so grateful that I was able to talk to someone who had received a degree from a university I was interested in and also been successful in their career due to the skills they learned at said university. 

        Overall, the interview was extremely informative and stimulating as I learned so much about a completely different profession that I had never thought much about before. This interview definitely solidified my idea that chemical engineering is a versatile field with many options and I cannot wait to conduct future interviews where I can learn more about the different options that I have.

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