As the end of University draws closer (ugh exams!), many students will be starting part time work or if lucky, beginning a vacation placement in an engineering related workplace.
Stephanie Somerville, Manager, Career Services interviewed Eve Smolinska, a current Engineers Australia Student Ambassador about how she gained practical experience in the engineering field this year.
Eve is currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) (Honours) at RMIT University.
Q. Why do you love engineering?
I have always regarded engineering as a noble profession. Growing up in Europe provided me with an opportunity of having incredible structures at my fingertips and ultimately led me to choose Civil Engineering. To me, the beauty of engineering does not only lie in the physical elements that get constructed but in its usefulness to the general population. To put it in perspective, thanks to engineering we are able to construct a high rise structure, which consists of numerous small parts, each having their own design and serving their own specific purpose. Together, they make up the skyline we see each day, providing space for the increasing population and raising the comfort of living.
Q. Tell us how you got your vacation/work placement?
At the beginning of the year, I attended an event titled "Elevation", hosted by Engineers Australia. During networking time at the company stalls, I talked to a John Holland representative about their projects and about company culture. Due to my volunteering involvement at the Civil Engineering Student Association (CESA) at University, we also discussed the upcoming Industry Night, to which John Holland accepted an invitation to. Later in the week I also sent my resume and cover letter to HR and I got a call a few weeks later. Now, I have been working at John Holland as an Undergraduate Site Engineer for the past 6 months and couldn't think of a better place to start my career.
Q. What was the best thing about the practical experience?
As my practical experience is in the construction industry I have numerous opportunities to go out to site and see design come to life. Every work day I am a part of either a concrete pour, reinforcement fixing, shield install or asphalt paving, depending on the day and activities taking place. This part-time work in the industry enabled me to more clearly see the relevance of the material covered at University and has provided me with a more in-depth understanding of all aspects of project delivery.
Q. What advice would you give another student about to start their summer vacation placement?
Be curious and always ask questions. Throughout any task ask yourself things such as: why are we doing it this way? Is it more cost effective? Is it safer? Is it a legal requirement? Industry placement is an incredible opportunity to learn every day as you are surrounded by experienced industry professionals - take advantage of it.
For more advice from those that have been where you are, watch the latest Engineers Australia Career Webinar on Gaining Practical Experience.