Office Hours: Insider Tips On Forest Products Careers And The Green Dream Internship From The Greenest Workforce


March 5th was an egg-citing day at TalentEgg: representatives from leading forest products companies joined us for Office Hours with The Greenest Workforce!

Office Hours is an hour-long live chat with representatives from top employers for TalentEgg members.

Elaine Jensen from West Fraser Timber and Heather Press from Tolko Industries were on hand to answer your questions about The Green Dream Internship contest and hatching a career in the booming forest products industry!

If you missed the live event, you can read the complete transcript below.

TalentEgg Hayley: Welcome to Office Hours, TalentEgg-ers! My name is Hayley, I’m the Marketing Manager here at TalentEgg and I’ll be moderating today’s chat.

Joining us today are representatives from two leading forest products companies: Elaine Jensen, Corporate HR Manager at West Fraser Timber and Heather Press, Manager of Recruitment and Organizational Development at Tolko Industries.

Over the next hour, you can send Elaine and Heather your questions about careers in forest products, The Green Dream Internship, and tips for successfully navigating the recruitment process! You can start submitting your questions now.

Elaine and Heather, could you please tell the audience a bit about yourselves?

Elaine Jensen: I am responsible for Human Resources at West Fraser and am looking forward to answering any questions you have about West Fraser and working in the forest products industry.

Heather Press: I’m the Manager of Recruitment and Organizational Development at Tolko Industries.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks guys! Let’s kick things off with a question that was submitted in advance:

Avi, an Engineering student at the University of Toronto, asks: Can you tell me more about opportunities for Engineering students in the forest products industry?

Heather Press: The best opportunities are likely with Process Control and through the SR&ED program. However, our woodlands divisions sometimes have opportunities for Engineering students as well.

Elaine Jensen: There are a great deal of opportunities for Engineering students in the forest products industry. In our organization we hire Engineers into both our solid wood and pulp operations. We hire many different types of Engineers—Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical and Civil Engineers. Engineers have opportunities in Process Controls, Project Engineering and Process Engineering. And with new opportunities arising out of green energy projects, the options are endless!

Heather Press: Good comment Elaine. Process Control is certainly an area of opportunity with us also. As well, the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit is increasingly important.

Comment From Adam
If I work as a Forester Intern this summer, will I be favoured for a full-time job once I graduate?

Elaine Jensen: We hire an average of 60-70 Forestry summer students each year. Summer opportunities at West Fraser are a great opportunity for you to gain valuable experience as well as give West Fraser an opportunity to get to know you and your abilities. Many of the Foresters we hire on permanently after graduation have worked for us as students.

Heather Press: We love to have interns transition into full-time employment. In fact it is one of the success measures that we track. We find that the intern experience is a great way for both parties to explore working together.

Comment From Your Name
Hi, I am an international Masters student in Industrial Engineering. I have prior experience in IT. What are the opportunities for an experienced person and do you consider Engineering students for other positions?

Elaine Jensen: There are always opportunities for great Engineers. Besides our Engineers that work in our operations, we also have corporate Engineers that work on a variety of large corporate initiatives across the organization.

Heather Press: The industry is increasingly focused on technology. Your background would potentially fit into a number of areas within Tolko, for example, in some of our IT projects, our Continuous Improvement initiatives and computerized maintenance management systems.

Comment From amanda_s
What’s the outlook for the forest products industry? What types of career paths are available for Environmental or Science grads?

Elaine Jensen: We have opportunities for Environmental and Science graduates in our pulp mills. Our pulp mills have environmental departments that ensure we are meeting our environmental and regulatory requirements.

Heather Press: The outlook for the forest products industry is bright. With a focus on sustainability and new product development, we are looking for bright people to join the industry, especially as we are expecting a number of retirements over the next 5 years.

Comment From Nick
How and where can I meet with recruiters directly? Are there job fairs for the forest products industry or events that you hold regularly?

Elaine Jensen: West Fraser participates in about a dozen career fairs each year, primarily in Western Canada. If you are in Eastern Canada and are interested in moving out west, please send your resume to We will make sure it is forwarded to the operations that have opportunities in your field.

Heather Press: Hi Nick. B.C. is holding a series of job fairs across the province. I’m not sure where you are located, but we typically hold job fairs in each of our location provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.). We were also in Fredericton last year. The best way for us to meet you is through our website.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks guys! Let’s hear from another student who submitted a question in advance:

Mel, a Physical and Environmental Geography student at the University of Toronto, asks: Is forestry a female-safe environment? I am having trouble convincing other people about work in forestry. What does your company do to ensure safe and healthy work environments, especially when doing work in the field?

Heather Press: Safety is our first value at Tolko. We take it very seriously. We also encourage diversity and employ females at all of our facilities.

Elaine Jensen: We have almost 250 Foresters working at West Fraser and many of them are female. Forestry work lends itself well to both men and women. We have a training program all Foresters go through to ensure they have the safety skills necessary for the job. We have not had any females that have not been capable of doing the work.

Comment From ammad
Hello, I am interested in the Quality Control Assistant internship. What skills are you looking for? Thank you.

Elaine Jensen: Great to hear! We are looking for individuals that understand statistical process control, have great organizational skills and are good at troubleshooting problems. These roles are great as the individuals gain a ton of insight and experience as to how our operations work from the ground up. They also give you the ability to influence our performance every day with the work you’re doing.

Comment From ammad
Thank you very much!

Elaine Jensen: You’re welcome!

Comment From Debra
I am a student studying Environmental Sciences and am interested in working in Canada’s Natural Resource sector. However, I want to work somewhere where I can make a difference and where good sustainable practices are undertaken. What values do West Fraser and Tolko have that are in line with this?

Heather Press: Great question! We are proud of our commitment to sustainability. There is a good deal of information on our website. Our achievements have included: 3rd party Sustainable Forest Management certification, Chain of Custody certification and being a signatory to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (a leading commitment by the forest products industry and environmental groups to sustainability in the Boreal Forest).

Elaine Jensen: We are managing the forest of today for tomorrow, and finding a balance where all forest values can be accommodated. If you are looking to make a difference, at our company you can do a wide variety of jobs: forestry planning that sets up sustainable forests for generations, reclamation and planning forest regeneration, or working with communities to engage in dialogue about how we can sustainably manage the forest for wildlife, recreational and other uses. Alternatively, if you are really interested in changing the world, we are embarking on a whole new phase of forest products and bioenergy. It’s an exciting time to join a forest products company as we look at developing new sources of bioenergy, bioplastics and chemicals that will change the materials people use every day.

Comment From john
Hi can you tell me about the Green Dream Internship and what I need to do to get the internship at either of your companies?

Elaine Jensen: The first step is to apply. For the internship at West Fraser, we are looking for someone currently enrolled in or a recent graduate of a postsecondary program in Engineering, Chemistry, Wood Sciences or a related field. They need to understand statistical process controls, and have good organizational skills as well as good analytical and communication skills.

Heather Press: Our internship is focused on Human Resources, based in our main office in Vernon, B.C.. It’s an exciting time to join this team. We work closely with our HR partners at the sites. You’ll have the opportunity to work with a very passionate and skilled team to help take our orientation and onboarding initiative to the next level. And you get to play in the beautiful Okanagan Valley!

TalentEgg Hayley: You can also check out this video from PaperWeek in Montreal, where we chatted with members of The Greenest Workforce about forest products careers and The Green Dream Internship!

Comment From bryce
I noticed some of the internships ask for Chemistry students or graduates, like the Quality Control and Technical Support internship. Can you tell me more about the kind of experience I’ll get and how it would be applicable to my field? What other career paths are there for Science students?

Elaine Jensen: Our Quality Control Assistant role is a great place to get to know how a sawmill works as you are involved in the process every step of the way. Because of this, you will gain insight into the various processes in the business which open up many different avenues one can take, all the way up to becoming a Superintendent or General Manager of an operation.

Heather Press: Other opportunities are linked, through QA, to the SR&ED program. We are looking for people that are good at documenting processes and asking questions that lead to new and innovative ways of thinking.

TalentEgg Hayley: Thanks Elaine and Heather! I think this is a great time to take our poll.

What is most appealing about starting your career in the forest products industry?

Challenging and diverse work ( 20% )
Stability and good pay ( 30% )
Great work/life balance ( 20% )
Working outdoors or surrounded by beautiful landscape ( 30% )

Comment From Alex
I’m looking for a full-time job in Forestry. Do you have interview or application tips that will help me through the process? What should I talk about to stand out?

Elaine Jensen: We like to see students that have relevant work experience during their summers in between school years. If there is one piece of advice I can give students in a Forestry program, it is to make sure you apply for Forestry summer jobs. They will make you very marketable once you have graduated.

Heather Press: Hi Alex. If you can get relevant work experience, that is great. If not, experience that shows your drive and initiative will help you get noticed. Make sure you do your research on the company and come with your own set of questions. We are looking for people that fit with our values and vision and will train you in the skills you need.

Elaine Jensen: To further answer your question Alex, if you have relevant experience, talk about that. Talk about what interests you in Forestry. There will be many opportunities in the years to come in Forestry. In our company alone, 1 out of every 5 employees will be retiring in the next 5 years! The future is so bright for anyone graduating from postsecondary school if you are interested in a career in the forest products industry!

Comment From Melissa Hatherton
Hi Heather, Hi Elaine, thanks for talking to us today! I’ve heard a lot about The Green Dream Internship contest. Can you tell me more about the Human Resources internship and how to stand out? Thank you! 🙂

Heather Press: Hi Melissa. We strive to provide all students, but particularly HR students, with the opportunity to interact with many levels of the organization. You will stand out by demonstrating your understanding of the industry and the role HR plays in keeping us growing (no pun intended). And of course, how you will be able to contribute to its success. Also, communication (verbal and written) and presentation skills are key.

TalentEgg Hayley: Let’s hear from one last student who submitted a question in advance:

Kate, a Chemical Engineering student at Dalhousie University, asks: I’m graduating this year. Do you hire Engineers who don’t have any work experience?

Elaine Jensen: Yes, we typically hire new Engineering students for one of our 4 pulp mills. You’ll work in a Junior Engineering role in both Process and Project Engineering where you can learn our processes and gain valuable experience so you can grow into larger roles in the organization.

Heather Press: We have limited opportunities, but do hire into junior positions in QC/QA.

TalentEgg Hayley: That’s all the time we have for questions today. Thanks for participating in Office Hours and a big thank-you to Elaine and Heather for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions! Do you two have any final comments?

Heather Press: Thank you very much for this opportunity, there were some great questions!

Elaine Jensen: To close, I would say that the forest products industry is a great place to work. It will provide you with a great job, great pay and you will have the ability to live in a nice community. There will be a lot of opportunities in the years to come so this is an exciting time to get into the industry.

Heather Press: Well said, Elaine!

TalentEgg Hayley: Indeed, thanks again guys!

If you’re looking for more information on forest products careers and The Green Dream Internship, you can also visit The Greenest Workforce’s employer profile on TalentEgg!

Thanks again for joining us today TalentEgg-ers! Keep your eyes on our Twitter feed and Facebook page for upcoming Office Hours events!

About the author

Hayley Mullen is the Community Manager at TalentEgg. After receiving her BA in Philosophy and Postgraduate Certificate in Advertising Copywriting, she worked as Content and Community Manager at a mobile software startup. She loves travelling, celebrity gossip blogs and any kind of dog.