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From Summer Interns to process technicians: a path full of challenges, learning and belonging

Published 28.2.2023

Matías Argárate and Ernesto Molina Cueli are Chemical Engineers who met in the last quarter of 2017 during a group activity held as part of the Techint Group’s Summer Intern selection process (PEVs). Today, they’re both working in the Process Design area in Engineering at Techint Engineering & Construction, and have built a strong friendship over the years.

Ernesto instantly recalls the excitement he felt when he opened the email from the company, accompanied by his mother and brothers, and read the words confirming his admission. “It was a three-month effort. I wanted it to be a gateway to building my career, to writing my story here." And Matías agrees, as, “I knew that it was an amazing training opportunity at a really well-known company like Techint Engineering & Construction, with the possibility of taking part in super important projects. On balance, that’s worth so much more than a few weeks’ vacation.”

The young people were part of a group of more than 30 summer interns, something they felt made the whole issue of working over the summer more fun, and also created a great sense of belonging. “We shared all kinds of things in that group, our experiences, training courses, networking spaces and this meant that a really good, solid group was formed. Although each one of us was working on their future, today many of us have become good friends,” reminisces Ernesto.

Ernesto Molina · at Tratayén-Mega gas pipeline in the Province of Neuquén, Argentina.

Although they refer to the area of Process Design as the "first love" of chemical engineers, both describe their job rotation in the midst of the pandemic as "unforgettable." Matías worked in the area of Pre-commissioning, Commissioning and Start-up at the Genelba project in the province of Buenos Aires Province; while Ernesto worked in Construction, and Pre-commissioning, Commissioning and Start-up at Mega’s Tratayen gas pipeline in the province of Neuquén.

“Actually working on the construction site was a challenge, a completely different experience to what I was used to. Everything was different, from the work group, the food and the timetable to the clothing and PPE and of course, the activities I had to do. It was a major paradigm shift: being pushed out of my comfort zone—and in the middle of the pandemic!” explains Ernesto. He adds that, "However, in a way, this helped me to see the bigger picture of the business and get an idea of the next steps for engineering so that I could understand the logic of the construction, and see whether the decisions we were taking were the right ones in terms of design. Trying to ensure that everything worked in terms of timing, quality and costs so that it met what had been planned and agreed with the client.”

For his part, Matías highlights the experience he gained during his time at Genelba and how it helped him to be a better professional. “This rotation offered me the chance to get first-hand experience of the reality of the work, to understand the sheer size of the projects that Techint builds. And it was an opportunity to get to know colleagues from different specialties and countries. Exposure to different environments and situations, sharing long hours, safety procedures, the immediate response required by some solutions, as well as the technical challenges of field work… All of these without a doubt constitute an invaluable learning opportunity. It’s also an experience that inspires you to look at things from a different point of view, and try to transfer past lessons learned so as to optimize engineering designs at new projects.”

Matías Argárate · at the Genelba Plus project, Argentina.

Another aspect that marked Ernesto after his onsite experience was seeing how things progressed over time. “When you look at the photo of the first day’s work at the site, and all you can see is the horizon and a pile of materials, and then you reach the end of the project, and there’s barely a couple of things to finish, like a lick of paint on a pipe. That’s when it hits home that it’s not just about installing a bunch of pipes at a plant, but that this kind of structure truly transforms reality. And Matías completes the idea: “It’s incredibly inspiring to feel that you’re making things happen. Seeing the plant in operation, generating electricity and thinking 'I was a part of this!’ fills you with satisfaction.”

What advice do these professionals offer future Summer Interns? “Whatever you do, don’t pass this chance up because it's unique—take advantage of it. It’s an action-packed three months in which you can learn all kinds of things, soak up the Techint culture, give it your all and enjoy,” they conclude.

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