With the graduation season stress winding down, I find myself seated in my desk at Integral Group's Oakland office wondering how I ended up here. It is no question that my last semester was my toughest semester in Berkeley, but that was also my first semester in which I (finally) found my passion in the fields of energy and sustainability. I began to shift my focus from a traditional ChemE role to an intersection of engineering and sustainability. I kept telling people that I want to work in the field of sustainability using the "toolbox" obtained from previous engineering classes, yet I found myself stuck when they asked me to define what sustainability is. The more I begin thinking about what sustainability is, the more I begin questioning what being "passionate" for something even means.
Integral Group focuses themselves to be the "Deepest Green Consulting Firm in the world." In other words, Integral Group provides engineering services and sustainability consulting for built environment. If you're currently in a building, try to think on how your water piping system was installed. Think of who installed the ventilation system to ensure that the odor of that sweaty student in front of you who forgot to take a shower before a class at 11AM would be tolerable for the rest of your class. Yeah, these are part of what Integral Group does best.
I spent the next few hours of my first day checking their internal website called "Connect" along with the resources they have collectively put in that website. It is clear that these people have put time and effort to make it easier for an incoming intern to scramble through their website effectively. I got to meet Nelson, one of the few office dogs who are too cute to ignore. Nelson, as described by his owner, "knows that he's cute and that people love him." I couldn't agree more. He often marches into the break room and explore the office by himself. People can't resist to say hi to him and pet him (cause he's a good boi and he deserves it). So obviously, I played with him while studying our internal website (but still playing with Nelson).
Without realizing, it's lunch time and I had my first team lunch meeting. It's clear to me that everyone in the team are committed to creating a better living environment for each building that they are involved in. The projects that they have done have been recognized at a national and international level through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation in most of their projects. In fact, Integral's very own Oakland office obtained a LEED Platinum rating and was the highest scoring building in its category at the time. As I got to know the individuals in the team better, it is increasingly evident that I have been surrounded by motivated people who are clearly passionate in what they are doing. I know that they are the right people for me to learn from. I know that I have surrounded myself in a supportive environment in terms of culture, knowledge, and professional development.
Soon, I got my first project through a discussion with my supervisor and a coworker. I learned that I'll be working on a project for Chou Hall from the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley. Guess what? I've marched to Oakland to be in a new environment but am now back to where it all began. I'll dive deeper into what the project entails and how I got into contact with the CFO of Haas and Danner Doud-Martin (seriously she is the coolest person in Haas that I know, she is incredibly talented and passionate in the field of sustainability) in the next post(s), but for now, I whispered to myself, "Go Bears," as I closed that Haas project folder and headed home.
P.S. I like to share my story better as a narrative and due to the fact that my work is more "project" based, I divide my stories and experiences up into chunks that focuses on each project. Also, try to find some easter eggs in my projects. For starters, you might want to check the title for the images I upload for this post.