From co-op to career: Building futures at Nutrien’s Allan potash mine

Published: May 29, 2024

image-20240529151756-1Nutrien’s Allan potash mine has become a beacon for young talent, attracting graduates from post-secondary institutions through its robust co-op program. In the last decade, the site has had co-op students accept permanent full-time roles in a variety of areas at the mine. There are five permanent surface employees, two plant engineering and surface operations planners, and six permanent underground employees who have all gone through the co-op program.

“Nutrien’s co-op program is designed to attract and nurture talent, providing students with relevant work experience and professional development opportunities,” says Kendal Senko, Advisor, Talent Attraction. “Nutrien works closely with post-secondary institutions to advertise and hire for our positions, offering flexible co-op terms that align with students’ academic schedules.”

“The co-op program is an incubator of talent, a definite success factor for Nutrien, with many past co-op students at Allan and our other sites, having continued moving forward into higher levels of responsibility and staying with Nutrien long-term,” says Karl Antaya, Mill Operations, Superintendent. “For the Surface Metallurgical Group (MetLab), it’s a center for innovative ideas, out-of-the-box thinking and continuous improvement to improve mill recovery, process control and efficiency project, which fits nicely with these best and brightest folks.” Sean Fenrich, who started as a Process Engineering intern and now works as a full-time Process Engineer, found the positive workplace environment at the Allan mine influential.

"The working environment in the MetLab was always very positive, and my coworkers made it a fun place to work,” says Sean. “I knew from my co-op term that a full-time role would present different technical challenges and I’d get the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways to the success of the site.”

For Paige Perras, the role of a Rotational Process Engineer-in-Training was an unexpected but welcome career path.

"Before my internship with Nutrien, working in the mining sector was not something I considered at all,” says Paige. “However, my experience here working on engaging projects and the supportive work culture encouraged me to pursue it as a post-graduation career path.”

Kasia McChesney, another Process Engineer II (EIT) at the Allan Potash mine, shares how the co-op program's hands-on approach helped her develop crucial skills.

"During my co-op term, I was given a variety of different tasks that gave me a comprehensive experience in process engineering,” says Kasia. “Everyone I encountered was eager to help me learn and ensured I was doing my job safely."

The experiences of these engineers illustrate how Nutrien’s co-op program not only nurtures technical skills and professional growth but also fosters a strong sense of community and belonging.

“We aim to develop a pool of early talent by recruiting from local schools and providing meaningful work experiences,” says Kendal. “Our goal is to support these young professionals in their early careers and encourage them to build their futures with Nutrien.”

image-20240529152037-2For Paige, Sean and Kasia, the decision to work at Nutrien after graduation was also influenced by the opportunity to stay in the province of Saskatchewan. 

"I’ve built a life for myself in Saskatoon with my partner, so it is now home,” says Paige. “There is plenty of work in the mining sector in Saskatchewan, and after my positive experience as a co-op student at Nutrien, it was a natural decision to stay."

“My wife and I are both originally from small towns in Saskatchewan, so this province is home for us,” says Sean. “We knew that we wanted to set down roots in the Saskatoon area to raise a family."

Nutrien continues to attract and retain top talent, ensuring a bright future for its operations in Saskatchewan. Its commitment to fostering a supportive work environment and providing valuable professional development and mentorship opportunities makes Nutrien a desirable place for young professionals to start and grow their careers.