Learn about Vick's internship experience and the career development skills he's gained in the professional work environment.

Varuna (Vick) Sumanasena

Name: Varuna (Vick) Sumanasena

Location: Northern Territory

University and Course: Master of Civil & Structural Engineering, Charles Darwin University

Graduation: 2021

Where did you undertake your internship?

 Harris Kmon Solutions – Darwin / Structural Department

What types of things were you involved with during your internship?

I worked both in-office and on-site. I went to construction sites with senior engineers for inspections.

How did you find out about your internship opportunity?

I found it through my LinkedIn news feed. I shortlisted the Harris Kmon solution as one of the companies to do an internship last summer. So I  visited their website and LinkedIn page and activated job alert notifications to my email. So when the company advertised their internship program last year, I got the notification via LinkedIn job alerts. Furthermore, I managed to have casual chats with a few of the engineers from Harris Kmon Solutions during the networking sessions at Engineers Australia events which helped me to formulate my CV and prepare for the interview as for the working style of the company.

What influenced you to apply for the position?

Harris Kmon solution is one of Darwin's fastest-growing structural engineering companies, with an elite bunch of engineers. So I decided that I should apply for this internship position as it could give me the required exposure to build a solid foundation to kick-start my career.

What opportunities has your internship given you?

The internship led me to have solid professional referrals for my CV. Moreover, the referrals that I got from Harris Kmon solutions led me to have paid undergraduate and graduate working opportunities with the Northern Territory Government and Cardno - Darwin office.

What advantages has completing the internship given you? 

It gave me a chance to fill up my CV with real industrial experiences, which I can explain in detail during the interviews to obtain a competitive advantage over the other candidates.

It allowed me to develop my team management skills and self-confidence to deal with contractors during site inspections with my current job.

It helped me to extend my professional network and build up solid relationships with senior engineers and leaders in the construction industry in Darwin with Sinead Redmond, President of Engineers Australia and Dr. Elisha Harris, Engineers Australia Committee member/EngExec holder.

It allowed me to understand the professional ethics that I should follow when dealing with colleagues and contractors.

It gave me plenty of exposure to the construction industry which helped me to figure out my specialise future career path.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your internship?

The biggest challenge was to fill up my knowledge gap from the university level to the industrial level. When I started the internship, I could not even understand the terminology that senior engineers were using during the meetings. But having more coffee time and good casual conversations during lunch breaks really helped me to bridge that gap. Furthermore, the study sessions conducted every week by Dr. Elisha Harris and Alex Newman helped me understand how the company and the industry work.

What was the main thing that you learnt during your internship that you’ve since been able to apply to your professional life/studies?

Usually, as university students, we learn a lot about theories but don't often have good visibility on the application of that theory in real-world engineering applications. The main thing that I learned from the internship was to use those theories in real-world engineering applications by focusing on financial, technical and environmental feasibility parameters.

What are the ways Engineers Australia helped you throughout the internship process?

I joined a few university-related activities as one of the student ambassadors of Engineers Australia NT Division. The confidence I got from the program really helped me deal with contractors, colleagues and other external stakeholders during my internship.

Networking events helped me to have meaningful discussions with senior engineers from the industry about how I could use this internship opportunity to speed up my career progress.

During my internship, I got the opportunity to check out some important webinars about Chartered engineering status. So it provided me with relevant information to inquire more about the Chartered status and its process from senior engineers at Harris Kmon solution to understand how my career should progress in the future.