Connecting with leadership: Smith embodying a growth mindset at Ameren

July 26, 2022

Elly Smith (left) is conducting an internship at Ameren. (Pictured right is Emily Kloeppel, a senior IMSE student at Mizzou)

Elly Smith (left) is conducting an internship at Ameren. Pictured right is Emily Kloeppel, a senior IMSE student.

Internships help students network with industry leaders and working professionals in their field of study and beyond.

Elly Smith, a junior in the biomedical, biological and chemical engineering department, is conducting an internship at Ameren.

We asked her a few questions about the experience.

Tell us about your internship at Ameren. What’s your role and primary responsibility? 

I am currently interning as a gas engineer for Ameren Illinois. I am based in Quincy, Illinois and cover what is known as the Western Region – Gas (WRG). This territory encompasses towns as south as Maryville, IL and towns as north as Mason City, IL – about a 2.5-hour radius in any direction, except west. In my office, we have three gas engineers, but there are many more across WRG. Within my role at Ameren, my primary responsibilities are asset verification, data analysis, risk modeling, field visits and status evaluation. 

What’s a typical day like? 

There truly is no typical day within my role at Ameren. On some days I need to be at the site by 6:15 a.m. and will spend the entire day two hours from the operating center with the crews. On other days, I will walk into the office, have a conversation with my leader about my daily tasks and current projects and spend the rest of the day working on my computer. I usually spend 2 days a week at sites and 3 in the office. On occasion I work remotely. 

How did Mizzou Engineering prepare you for this internship? 

My Mizzou chemical engineering curriculum is what prepared me for this role. The rigor of the courses is initially humbling but leaves students confident in their abilities to tackle projects and problems. A famous saying among our professors is, “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Working at Ameren was an environment I was unfamiliar with, but I felt comfortable taking on projects and learning new skills because of the mindset my degree has given me.  

Specifically, Dr. Park’s Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics II and Dr. Pinhero’s Chemical Engineering Sustainability classes were essential for completing my largest project at Ameren, an environmental justice study. The data analysis I learned from Dr. Park’s class and the important lessons on energy from Dr. Pinhero’s course are what allowed me to complete a study that has now been passed on to a company Vice President and the Ameren Illinois President, Richard Mark.  

Elly Smith is a gas engineering intern at Ameren.

Photo provided by Elly Smith, a gas engineering intern at Ameren.

How did Mizzou Engineering Career Services assist you with securing or preparing for this internship?  

Mizzou Engineering Career Services facilitation of an online career fair was what enabled me to come across Ameren as a potential employer. Signing up was straightforward and simple. By using Handshake, in a matter of a few clicks I had an interview slot confirmed with Ameren. 

What have you enjoyed most working at Ameren so far? 

What I have enjoyed most about Ameren so far is the variety in my days and all that I have been able to experience. My job as a gas engineer is a multifaceted role and has taught me the use of geotechnical tools, project management skills and how to build solid relationships with a team. This is a result of Ameren’s company culture. I have reached out to many employees, who I have never met and do not work in my division, asking for help on a project. Each one has always been willing to schedule time with me and work through what I have asked about. There is a clear willingness to reach a common goal and share knowledge and skills. 

What have you learned from your internship experience? 

During my time at Ameren I have learned both digital and soft skills. A few digital skills I have learned are Microsoft Teams, Oracle SQL Developer, C55, DOJM, Maximo, ArcGISPro, and in-depth Microsoft Excel. Other skills I have developed during my internship are project management, working and communicating with leadership, engineering intuition, networking and how to retool your skillset to approach a problem. 

What advice would you give other students wanting to have a similar internship experience? 

An internship is what YOU make of it! Your internship experience is far better if you are proactive. Always ask questions, request projects and be constantly learning. If you simply await the work your supervisor hands off to you, there is little chance you will work on something you truly enjoy. If you feel your skills would be better working in another area, be honest with yourself and your leadership. Having a great relationship with my leader is what allowed me to be given projects I loved as well as meeting a wide network of people. For example, just by asking a coworker who I had only spoken to through email about her work, I was able to visit her facility and meet her team. 

Is there anything else you’d like others to know about your internship? 

Although I am a chemical engineering major, my role is typically held by industrial, civil and mechanical engineers. The fact I have been able to enjoy my role and thrive is another reason I would encourage incoming engineers to consider chemical engineering, as it will prepare you for such a wide variety of careers. 

Thanks for sharing!

Are you interested in an engineering degree that can prepare you for any industry?  Apply to Mizzou today!