mining for progress
June 18, 2016 9:00 a.m. | Priscilla Rios, UA Career Services Marketing Student
Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Brian Njenga graduated in August of 2014 with a Bachelors in Mining Engineering. Brian understood the demand for development in Africa and knew first-hand all of the resources and development the African continent needed for healthy living. Motivated to make a difference in the region’s development, Brian dreams of helping Africa reach its full potential. His past internships and his current job at Freeport McMoRan are helping him accomplish this goal.
Brian set out to gain experience on the path to achieving his goals. For three straight summers, he interned with Mintec Inc. in Tucson, Arizona, and later with Freeport McMoRan in Oro Valley, Arizona. These internships led directly to his full-time position with Freeport McMoRan when he graduated.
Completing an internship made all the difference.
Before he began working for Freeport McMoRan full-time, Brian worked on the Strategic Planning team and was responsible for developing Life of Mine plans. In short, these designs sustain a working mine for the entirety of its production life. Brian used mine planning software to assist with different stages of this process and the internship went so well, he was offered a full-time job with Freeport McMoRan’s Drill and Blast team.
This team is tasked with optimizing fragmentation and size distribution. Brian is responsible for the day to day drill planning and blast pattern design. He is continually amazed by the amount of cooperation and teamwork required to keep a mine running.
The most challenging part of his position is that sometimes the work can seem like a sink or swim environment. Knowing the best way to communicate with management is very important and adapting to different work conditions can be difficult. Further, Brian observed that working in Africa has its own set of unique challenges due to communication barriers and different societal norms.
Finding the right internship takes time, and effort.
To land the internships and jobs that resulted in his full-time position at Freeport McMoRan, Brian made sure to constantly be on the lookout for openings with big companies in his field. He attended every networking event where top employers would be. He followed up with everyone he came in contact with during his job search.
Advice for UA students? Network.
The best advice he said he could give to those in search of a job is to network. Brian encourages fellow Wildcats to always find common ground with people you meet and ask for business cards. And don’t stop until you find what you are looking for. Apply everywhere you can. In Brian’s estimation, any experience is better than no experience at all.
Brian said the UA career fair was one of the most important networking events he attended during his time as a student. He met a variety of employers and was able to research top companies who were actively recruiting. The UA Mine Engineering Department and Society for Mining Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Department at the UA also made it easy to network with professionals and learn about work opportunities. Just being involved and knowing what resources the UA offers will provide students with an abundant amount of opportunities.