ChemE Future Leader: Hannah Kot

Hannah KotHannah Kot (ChemE 2T3) wasn’t initially considering a future in chemical engineering, that is until a chance encounter with a recruiter at a universities fair which set her on her current path. “I have always been someone who loves solving complex problems and I was interested in creating a career that related to the environment, energy or human health. Chemical engineering was a perfect way for me to follow all of these interests without having to choose, while receiving a high quality and versatile education,” explains Hannah.

After attending a shadow day at U of T Engineering where Hannah followed a second year student, she decided that the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry (ChemE) was perfect for her! “I was welcomed with open arms. I knew instantly there wasn’t a better program for me,” recalls Hannah.

To fully immerse herself in the U of T Engineering community, Hannah joined the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Council (ChemClub) and held various executive positions within the group including Wellness Director and Treasurer. She has also been a mentor to younger students, is this year’s Director of Operations and Logistics for the You’re Next Career Network, and is a leader and subcommittee chair for the Engineering Orientation Week.

What excites Hannah the most right now is her future Professional Experience Year (PEY) Co-op placement. She recently sat down with Jennifer Hsu, ChemE’s Manager of External Relations, to share what she hopes to gain from PEY Co-op and where she sees herself in the future.

Why did you choose to enroll in PEY Co-op? What were your expectations from PEY Co-op?

Experience is crucial in being able to present yourself in today’s competitive job market. In school, while we learn the essential fundamentals, theories, and applications of chemical engineering, it is a different experience compared to working in industry. We do not have the same understanding of how our education applies in a job setting, or the different environments and demands of a workplace.

For the PEY Co-op in particular, I want to understand and contribute to the culture of a company beyond a three to four-month summer internship, and work with a team for a longer term. I am excited to start my PEY Co-op next summer, which will help me learn about working outside of an academic environment, discover more about myself, and apply knowledge to implement real change within a company.

In what industry are you hoping to be placed and why?

I am very open minded about where I would like to work for my PEY Co-op position. I am interested in consulting, as I enjoy solving complex problems and working in fast paced environments. I have an interest in business and am pursuing the engineering business minor. A business background provides a solid foundation for consulting and will complement my chemical engineering major.

What industry would you like to work in after graduation?

I would like to learn and work within the intersection of technology, the environment, and human health. I became interested in this topic from my Environmental Chemistry course in second year, which led me to pursue a minor in bioengineering. As we are in the age of technology, I want to create solutions that harness modern technology to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, in particular climate change.

Where would you like to be in five years after graduation?

I try to use design thinking when considering and planning for my future. This means I am regularly defining, refining and reimagining where I see myself in five years. While I am still learning about myself and my future, my current aspiration is to create positive change with a large NGO or private organization related to environmental and/or human health through the lens of technology. I hope to be creating a better world than the one we live in today.

I hope I can have the opportunity to travel or work outside of Canada. Since I was a young child, my family and I have been travelling and hosting students and families from across the globe. I aspire to continue this inclusive and global mindset throughout my life and the work I do.

What are you great at?

I pride myself on my ability to easily adapt and excel in new environments. Given changes and obstacles, I am quick in assessing, communicating, and implementing a new way to proceed. This varies across many facets of my life. In my personal life, I transitioned from athlete to coach after injury. In my extracurriculars such as Frosh Week, I pivoted between in person and online event planning due to COVID-19. In my academics, I went from living and studying in a small town, to one of the largest cities in North America. My methodical approach to addressing changes and problem solving has helped me become an efficient, flexible, and organized individual.

Interested in hiring a Professional Experience Year Co-op student? Click the link to learn more about U of T’s PEY Co-op program.

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