I worked at Cariboo Pulp & Paper mill to complete my reliability engineering co-op. I'm a 3rd year electrical engineering student from the University of British Columbia.
The people at West Fraser are excellent. Not only are they friendly, smart, and funny, but also welcoming. I felt like I was given autonomy to take on projects I was interested in or thought valuable. I felt free to get involved with anything that I could learn from. Everyone was eager to share their knowledge and offer advice and tips.
There was also never a dull moment. There is always something going on and always something to work on. It's basically an electrical engineer's playground: from power generation, to control systems, networks, software development, equipment maintenance and monitoring, there are projects in each field!
- Charles Engineering co-op student at Cariboo Pulp & Paper
It has been a really amazing experience working as a Quality Control Assistant at the Quesnel Sawmill. As an active person, I found this job suits me well. I am fortunate to work with experienced Quality Control personnel to gain valuable knowledge in lumber production, and to practice what I’ve learned about in school (Major in Wood Product Processing, minor in Commerce, UBC).
During my work term, I did quality control tests in both the sawmill and planer mill. These tests help ensure product quality and locate machine related issues. I also conducted studies on both lumber and kiln strip utilization to help identify opportunities for improvement.
Quesnel Sawmill is like a warm family to me because everyone makes me feel supported and trusted. When doing tests and projects, everyone is happy to answer my questions or teach me something new. I get to discuss my thoughts with my supervisor, get objective feedback, and work out results together. I have received so much knowledge from my supervisor during my work term and what I’ve learned will be extremely helpful in my future career in this industry.
I would definitely recommend a work term here to any student looking for a co-op placement in the forestry industry. Working at West Fraser will make you feel happy and accomplished.
- Lily Quality Control Assistant
As a graduate student from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, I came across the opportunity to work as an energy engineer for West Fraser’s corporate office in Quesnel, BC. When I was offered the position, I jumped into my car and drove straight from Vancouver to Quesnel.
I feel like I am one of the luckiest engineers. I get to say that I don’t have to sit on a computer all the time and I travel across picturesque landscapes of Alberta and British Columbia to help West Fraser’s solid wood mills replace inefficient equipment with more energy efficient equipment. While working on these technically stimulating projects, I get to interact and understand the perspective of a large number of employees in the hierarchy ranging from a general manager to a mill operator. In the next few years, I am looking forward to working on more energy projects.
During my engineering career, I’ve worked with several companies. The employee-friendly work ethics and peaceful environment that I found at West Fraser is the best. The warmth, friendliness, and laid back nature of its employees has swept me off my feet. I feel like I work with my family.
While working in Quesnel, I get the opportunity to experience fly-fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, and photography. As a nature lover, these activities help me strike a good work-life balance. I can proudly say that I am having an amazing time working at West Fraser!
- Mohammed Energy Engineer
I began working for West Fraser during my University of British Columbia (UBC) co-operative education term in 2011. Following graduation from UBC with a Bachelor of Science (specializing in wood products processing) and a minor in Commerce, I was hired by West Fraser in recognition for my hard work and fairness. I am thankful for that.
My first full-time job at West Fraser was as Quality Control Supervisor. Subsequently, I advanced to Maintenance Planner and onto Sawmill Superintendent. My current job as Sawmill Superintendent at West Fraser's Chetwynd, BC division is challenging and rewarding. It gives me the opportunity to interact with great people and work with diverse industrial equipment, to ensure the day-to-day operations of the sawmill are running smoothly. In this job, I set goals and work to make sure these goals are exceeded to advance the business into new frontiers.
For the five years I have been with West Fraser, all the jobs I have worked on have been exciting and memorable. I can understand why West Fraser is listed as one of Canada's top employers. I commend West Fraser’s work environment, health and family benefits, social commitment, and the many opportunities for training and development.
I look forward to continuing my career with West Fraser and I plan to work towards the future success of the company.
- Houston Sawmill Superintendent
Working in Hinton Pulp’s Reliability department was a great experience. Upon arrival at the mill for my eight-month work term, I found everyone very friendly and helpful. The support I received ranged from having my questions about the equipment answered to having their location in the mill shown to me.
Throughout the work term, I had opportunities to work on small projects related to lubrication of equipment at the mill. These projects offered me a tremendous opportunity to gain some technical knowledge on how the equipment operates and how their mechanical characteristics affect how they will be lubricated. I also learned the importance of reliability for the efficient operation of any industrial plant – knowledge I consider very useful for all engineering students as they begin their careers. On social front, I found Hinton very exciting and full of fun. I had opportunities to get involved in a wide variety of interesting activities such as hiking in Jasper and cross-country skiing at the Nordic Centre. The positive and memorable experience I had living and working in Hinton will be something that will stay with me for a long time.
- Maryam Engineering co-op student at Hinton Pulp
I’m an outdoorsy person and always knew I wanted to work outside. I wanted a physically and mentally challenging job; this is what attracted me towards forestry. Forestry is just so diverse; there are endless opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.
I get to work in beautiful, wild places knowing that I’m assisting in responsible management and the future preservation of these areas. This job gives a high level of satisfaction. I’d recommend this career path to anybody who places importance on renewable resources, sustainability and the environment.
Once I graduated high school I worked at both sawmill and coal mine jobs. I definitely preferred the sawmill job. I got sent into the woods for the sawmill and I loved it! I applied for Forestry right away. Students going into this field can expect to be challenged. I’m amazed at how much the managers at West Fraser know and can accomplish. Students can expect to have fun too! Imagine waking up, quadding deep into the foothills and directing a helicopter flight….That’s what I did just this morning! If you enjoy solving problems, meeting people and overseeing projects, this may be the job for you.
West Fraser has been great to work for. I’ve never worked anywhere where the managers care so much for their employees. Safety and education are their main priorities. Throughout the summer, they made a point of exposing me to different aspects of forestry, giving me applicable experience. I’ve learnt many new skills working here that will help me complete my degree and work as a future forester.
- Emily Summer student at Hinton Wood Products
I love being able to work outdoors, do something different every day, and see different parts of the land base around me. I started the Forest Technology program in the fall of 2014, and have never worked in the forest industry prior to attending NAIT.
My first position in the forest industry was a silviculture assistant. I plan to finish the Forest Tech program at NAIT, and then continue my career with West Fraser.
I look forward to constantly learning new parts of the forest industry, developing new skills and getting challenged in my everyday work. Students can expect to be challenged every day, learn constantly and go home feeling satisfied with their work at the end of the day. Being able to work independently in all weather conditions and all types of terrain is an asset to a position with West Fraser.
Working with West Fraser is an awesome opportunity to learn, grow and develop lifelong skills in the many different areas in the industry. Every day is different, and everyday has different challenges. West Fraser makes it easy to be proud of your work, and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end of your day.
- Olivia Silviculture Summer Student
This past work-term has been the first time that I have been able to apply the concepts that I have been learning in school to real world problems and to really feel like I am making a difference.
It was crazy to go from knowing just about nothing about the pulp process and about project management to playing an important role in a safety project. The best part was probably getting to act as project manager alongside a professional electrical engineer and to be relied on for many of the key aspects of the project. Not only did I learn lots from seeing other engineers do their work but I was also encouraged to work on my own and to figure things out myself. The level of trust and respect I was able to earn bolstered my self-confidence and allowed me to excel. Even when I wasn’t excelling it was easy to ask for help. I could knock on any door, and if I did not get the answer I was looking then I would get advice on how to obtain it. Overall, the experience was very rewarding and I would recommend it to any electrical or mechanical student looking for a place to work and learn.
- Kyle Engineering summer student at Hinton Pulp
Although my placement was only four months long, my exposure to the Pulp industry at Hinton Pulp was unforgettable and technically enlightening. I was extremely lucky to have worked with experienced engineers who showed me how much there still was to learn, but who also trusted me to make impactful decisions.
Throughout my entire term, I was treated more like an engineer-in-training than a traditional co-op student. Hinton’s management listened to my ideas and everyone was supportive of my projects. My entire experience reminded me of my passions for engineering, and West Fraser’s dedication to safety, the environment, and production efficiency was very inspirational. As an added bonus, I explored the inside of a power boiler during a planned maintenance shutdown!
- Jason Engineering Co-op Student at Hinton Pulp
This past co-op term at Quesnel River Pulp (QRP) has been quite enjoyable. Everyone at QRP is approachable and willing to help however they can. A lot of the work I’ve done this term has allowed me to improve my project management skills by planning and supervising contracted jobs.
Unlike any of my previous work terms, I have been given the opportunity to work with the Electrical and Instrumentation department once a week to develop technical skills and build relationships. Additionally, when external courses were offered such as Arc Flash and High Voltage Safety Training I was offered the chance to participate. Where ever possible, my superiors have given me the chance to learn and develop skills that are applicable in any work setting. For this reason I am grateful to be working at QRP.
- Robb Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
I have thoroughly enjoyed my four month stay at Quesnel River Pulp, having had the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people. While working here, I have had the opportunity to both manage and work on a variety of projects, both independently and as part of a group.
Throughout these projects, opportunities to learn and develop valuable engineering skills have been abundant. These are skills which I feel will be very beneficial throughout my engineering career. In addition to performing an engineering role, spending time working with the mechanical department has satisfied my need for hands-on work while providing valuable insight into the inner workings of the mill and its equipment. Working at QRP has provided a very well-rounded practical experience, as well as a very pleasurable and memorable one.
- Elijah Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
Working at Quesnel River Pulp for the summer was amazing. I learnt more in 4 months there than I thought was possible. I worked on projects, big and small, which enabled me to learn and be creative. I worked by myself and in a group of senior engineers, which taught me to be more confident in my own ideas.
In addition to working in the engineering department, I was able to help with other groups in the mill including the safety, mechanical and electrical departments. Everyone was always extremely helpful with any questions that I brought up. I would recommend a work term at Quesnel River Pulp to any student.
- Courtney Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
Working as an engineering summer student at Quesnel River Pulp (QRP) has been one of the best work terms I have done. Everyone here has been very friendly and helped foster my learning experience along the way.
Being at QRP during the start of many new capital projects has also given me a unique perspective on how newer technologies are being implemented to help optimize production. With my job I had the opportunity to spend one day a week working with different departments. This experience was probably the most valuable to me as I learnt that I enjoy tackling problems hands-on. To anyone looking to gain both practical and technical experience I think this is a great place to work.
- Brenden Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
My experience at Slave Lake Pulp was outstanding. Every colleague was outgoing, easy to approach, and made coming to work enjoyable. From my experience I have learnt more than I was expecting to when I showed up 4 months ago.
My supervisor and the project team that I worked with have taught me many skills that I will use in not only my future work experiences, but also in everyday life. With the variety of tasks that I was assigned to complete, I have gained a great amount of knowledge in the engineering field. I can say that I am disappointed that my work term has ended so soon and that I have to go back to university. With the variety of office, plant, and field work that I participated in I believe that this term has set prepared me well for my future schooling and endeavors.
- Jason Engineering co-op student at Slave Lake Pulp
Working as a woodlands planning student for Chetwynd Forest Industries (CFI) has been the best and most valuable work experience that I’ve had.
During my 10 months with CFI I expanded my timber development field skills, completed many administrative and analytical tasks related to cutting permits and led a small timber development crew. The work environment is learning focused: every question is answered, personal strengths are expanded, the workload is dynamic and detail-focused. CFI’s structure granted me autonomy and variety in my work: both field and office projects with focuses on revenue, forest planning and environmental requirements. In addition to rewarding work, I was met by enthusiastic and experienced co-workers. I now feel like part of the family at the division. To anyone seeking a diverse and in-depth forestry experience I recommend Chetwynd Forest Industries.
- Dane Woodlands planning student
My 4-month work term at Slave Lake Pulp was an extremely awesome experience. I entered the workforce with zero knowledge and left with tremendous experience gained from my co-op work term.
Slave Lake Pulp offers both office and field experience and they are willing to provide opportunities for co-op students to learn things that interest them. My colleagues at the mill were the greatest people I've ever worked with thus far. They were very friendly and willing to help whenever I had questions. I gained much knowledge in both workplace skills and academically, that will definitely help in my future work placements and school terms. I highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp for any student looking for a co-op work placement or summer experience
- Yumiko Co-op
I gained experience throughout my degree program by working summers in different industries; fabrication, chemical waste treatment and pulp and paper.
As a grad, my first job was at a pulp mill in Kawerau, New Zealand. When I moved to Canada, I got a position at a biotech company. However, the lure of working on a large site led me apply for a job at Hinton Pulp. I knew the excitement of working in a pulp mill and I wanted to live close to the Rockies.
The variety of the work I do is what makes my job exciting. My day-to-day activities can range from emergency trouble-shooting of equipment or process issues, project management and process studies for new products, to control system configuration and tuning. I feel that the wide scope of operations within a kraft pulp mill enables me to gain experience with a wide range of equipment and systems.
A junior engineer working at Hinton Pulp is able to get involved with processes that aren’t available at many other industrial plants. Where else can you find a 9-story tall, high pressure, continuous reactor? I think West Fraser offers a wide range of career paths for young engineers. The people I have the opportunity to work with here in Hinton are energetic, supportive and make the job fun. What’s fantastic about my work is the opportunity to discover what I most enjoy working on and turn it into a career.
- Simon Process/DCS Engineer at Hinton Pulp
I don’t think my introduction to forestry is typical: I was tired of waiting tables, so one day I walked into West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill and told them I wanted to start working for them.
The first day on the job, I heard there was a course for lumber graders. I took it, did well on the exam and started as a lumber grader right away. That’s how I started in forestry!
A year later, I moved to Hinton and I started working at Hinton Wood Products. On my own initiative, I decided to get my 4th class power engineer certification while on maternity leave. When I returned to the mill I was able to move into a Power Engineer role and the mill ended up reimbursing my tuition, which I didn’t expect. I am not shy of hard work. My experience at West Fraser is that if you take the steps, do the hard work, earn it and prove yourself, there’s more opportunity than you realize.
For a number of years as a Power Engineer I ran the lumber kilns and then the mill’s energy system. An electrical apprenticeship opportunity came up and I decided to sign up for it. I know I have proved I can work hard and achieve what I set out to do. Now that I am apprenticing at the mill, I love that I feel like I am learning something new every shift.
When it gets right to it, the most important thing for me is my family. I’m a single mom so it’s sometimes tough to balance my education, shift work and volunteering as the head coach for my two boy’s hockey teams – but we manage. We sit down and do our homework together at the kitchen table! I like working at West Fraser and doing what I do because I can advance myself and still be there for my family.
- Veronica Apprentice Electrician
Being a part of the Green Dream Internship in its first year has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m walking away from this experience having gained numerous transferable workplace skills, exposure to different parts of Canada and an appreciation for the forestry industry.
Hopefully all those reading the Greenest Workforce Intern blogs realize like I do now, how exciting, engaging and promising the forestry industry of Canada really is. It’s an industry that seamlessly integrated a challenging and rewarding work environment with the opportunity to lead a relaxed lifestyle in some of the most beautiful regions of this great country.
- Mark Greenest Workforce "Green Dream" Intern at Slave Lake Pulp
My first co-op work term at Slave Lake Pulp was truly a great learning experience. The mill strongly emphasizes the importance of safety, which demonstrates the amount of care Slave Lake Pulp shows towards its employees.
New technologies are always being explored, which allows co-op students (like me) to be included in various projects. There is the opportunity to work both inside an industrial environment as well as an office environment, for multiple departments such as Technical, Operations, and Engineering. However, the most enjoyable aspect of my work term were the co-workers I spent four months with. They fostered a caring environment where my questions were encouraged, and each of them offered any help I needed regardless of how busy they were. The Town of Slave Lake itself is a closely-knit community, with numerous recreation centres and outdoor activities to unwind after a long day. I believe Slave Lake Pulp offered an opportunity for me that I would not have been able to receive anywhere else.
- Jasper Engineering Co-Op Student