EE Major Wins CSULB Essay Contest

alia bonetti-web
EE major Alia Bonetti, center, with EE Chair Anastasios Chassiakos, left, and Tesoro lead electrical engineer Kyle Weeks, right.

Electrical engineering senior Alia Bonetti has gotten a lot out of her internships with Tesoro. Since connecting with the company at a CSULB job fair, she’s worked for two summers, learned about the type of engineering she’d like to pursue–and won the campuswide Internship Essay Contest.

And late last year, she received something even more exciting: a job offer to work as a Tesoro electrical engineer after graduation this spring.

Calling her summer internships “a fantastic learning experience,” Bonetti said she worked on upgrades for protection systems and conducted electrical safety systems studies. “I got to do real engineering work, not busy work. I learned a lot about the type of engineering I want to do and the type of engineer I want to be.”

Tesoro is a Global Fortune 500 petroleum refiner with 2013 annual revenues of $37 billion, over 5,700 employees worldwide, and local facilities in Wilmington and Carson.

During her internships, Bonetti developed an interest in power engineering, and realized she likes working in the field and in teams with a wide variety of people. “I got so lucky with that internship. Before I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It completely opened my eyes.”

The first day of her internship she got decked out in her personal protective equipment (PPE): a blue flame-resistant jumpsuit, safety glasses, hearing protection, and heavy boots. “The refinery is massive. It’s like its own world. There’s a lot of steam and loud noise.”

Bonetti said she felt immediately at ease. Despite being one of a small handful of women, everyone was very welcoming and she never felt out of place. It helped that both her supervisor and assigned work buddy were women.

She had such a positive experience at the company that it even inspired her mother, a civil engineer, to take a position in another Tesoro division.

Bonetti received news of the job offer shortly before Thanksgiving. “That was really exciting. It was really sweet because they wanted me to come down to the site to give me the offer letter,” she said.

Bonetti, who is vice president-internal of the CSULB chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, Epsilon Theta (HKN), said she was very excited, and so were her parents. “They’re really proud of me.”

After previously missing the deadline for the essay contest, which is operated by the CSULB Career Development Center, when it rolled around again, Bonetti entered. When she was named a finalist, she knew she was going up against some stiff competition. “I knew I had a great experience to talk about. I enjoy writing. But I never expected to win overall,” she said.

Besides winning $500 for being a finalist, Bonetti won another $500 for being the overall winner. She plans to use the money toward a four-week vacation in Europe–right before she begins her new job at Tesoro at the end of June.

“I’m really fortunate to end up in the situation I’m in. I’d been applying everywhere. It’s nice to know I already have a job,” she said. “And it’s cool to represent for engineering.”