Karina Subieta, Intern at FIEA Bolivia
It’s rare to have an experience so unforgettable and life-changing that it jolts you into remembering the true meaning behind those words. But that is exactly what the internship at Engineers in Action (EIA) in Bolivia was for me.
The EIA internship helped bring my education to life, as it allowed me to see full-circle how what I learned in school is used to construct real projects that make an invaluable difference in people’s lives. The experience also increased my marketability for water engineering jobs, since it taught me skills that these positions often require. Water sampling, measuring flow rates from springs and streams, surveying, design tips for water conveyance systems, and irrigation and chlorination concepts, just to name a few. While preparing a grant application, I also gained experience preparing a project budget, schedule, and scope of work, which is highly useful for any engineering job.
It was fun to do hands-on construction work that I not was able to do in my previous professional jobs, such as building faucets from individual valves and piping components, laying piping for water conveyance systems, and making preparations for pouring cement to make water catchment structures.
The true magic was meeting the Bolivian people in the communities where EIA is working to bring clean water and sanitary facilities. The community members worked alongside us during project implementation to break ground, lay pipe, and do other tasks. Through this interaction, you get to know the amazing people of the Bolivian communities. And knowing the people you help makes it even more rewarding when you finish a project. Words cannot describe the feeling you get watching someone open their new faucet for the first time and see water pouring out. Seeing their elation and excitement and knowing that you helped make this happen—helped change someone’s life for the better—reminds you that this is why you became an engineer.
The EIA Bolivia team was instrumental in making my internship so productive and rewarding. The engineers and health professional all actively involved me in their projects and always took the time to answer any questions I had. Everyone in the Bolivia office made me feel welcome and supported. I enjoyed working with the EIA Bolivia team so much that I extended my 6-month internship and ended up staying for over a year.
Many thanks to EIA for this unique opportunity. Please keep up your impactful work that is changing so many lives. I know that mine will never be the same, as my EIA experience has given me tools and an enhanced perspective that will allow me to better serve others.