As an intern with AECOM through BuildLACCD’s college internship program in Los Angeles, California, I’ve had exposure to professionals who’ve encouraged me to take a broader look at my career options, as well as the opportunity to experience these different options.

I joined the military right out of high school and later worked on oil drilling rigs and platforms as a roughneck, which has gave me plenty of hands-on, front-line experience. Originally, I set my sights on becoming a consultant or project manager in the oil industry, but now I’m also pursuing a civil engineering degree.  I’ve seen the impact civil engineers have on the world and look forward to my internship leading to full-time employment with AECOM — I want to contribute to the great projects we deliver around the world.

Being of Mexican-American heritage and fluent in English and Spanish, as well as some German and a little Pashtun, I have the ability to connect with people of different cultures and life experiences. I’ve lived in a variety of LA’s major Hispanic neighborhoods, including Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and others. I survived my share of troubles and tragedies in my youth, including losing my brother to an act of violence, and I completed high school in 2006. I then joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was deployed to combat duty assignments in Afghanistan where I again lost people I was close to, but I believe the work we did there improved lives and was important. The experience helped me mature and encouraged me to help others.

My ultimate plan is to transfer from East Los Angeles College (ELAC) and obtain my four-year degree.  My ELAC instructors are helping ensure my curriculum is in line with the University of Southern California’s degree requirements and my AECOM internship mentors are helping direct my path with new ideas and work opportunities.

My thoughts on life and encouraging others?

• Get to know people and treat them like family — you get back what you give in life.
• Don’t give up and stay positive — be open to new things.
• Pick the brains of people smarter than you because knowledge is power.
• Don’t scrutinize and stress over life’s small details.
• Learn to come to peace with yourself.