My employer is an International Engineering and Construction company that deliver projects in many sectors from buildings, transport, infrastructure and natural resources. My areas of responsibility vary depending on the rotation I am in. However, at the start of a new rotation they mostly consist of liaising with a senior member of the project team and helping them fulfill their everyday tasks. Once a general knowledge base of the project has been determined, the responsibility of your role grows, and you are given specific tasks to complete on your own.
Currently I am undertaking a commercial and procurement rotation at Central Station in Sydney. The project consists of upgrading multiple aspects of the station from the platforms to pedestrian concourse, with the most important aspect excavating down over 30 meters to build new platforms and stations for the new metro, all while the station is operational.
A typical day for me consists of collaborating with multiple members of the project team to establish all the documentation, specifications and contract specific information necessary so I can issue invitations to tender for packages that still haven’t been procured. Once the invitations have been sent, I manage the procurement package until a contract has been executed. These tasks included running mid-tender review meetings, negotiating contractual departures, cost comparisons, tender reviews and tender recommendation reports. All while conforming to the very strict regulations imposed on us from the government and the hierarchy within my company.
The above tasks are only part of one of the multiple roles I have undertaken so far in my graduate role. I have undertaken a role as a Site Engineer on one of the biggest rigid paving jobs in Australia. In my section I was working in, the subcontractors broke the record for the largest amount of concrete laid on a rigid pavement road in Australia. This was 1958m3, to put in perspective an average concrete truck holds 6m3, which equivalates to just over 326 trucks in a 10-hour period. Another rotation I undertook was with the estimating team. Here I assumed multiple roles from quantifying various aspects of the works, producing ‘Bill of Quantities’ and liaising with project leaders and planners to gain methodologies and projected timeframes. This gave me a very interesting insight into how projects are initiated and coordinated pre-contract and the risks that the opportunities present even at these very early stages of a project.
I grew up in New Zealand in a small suburb called Stokes Valley in Lower Hutt, Wellington. When I was growing up, I went to school to eat my lunch and hang out with my friends (well at least that is what my mum told me). I was expelled from my High School when I was 15 and worked full time as a car mechanic until I moved to Australia when I was 21. Once I arrived in Australia, I was fortunate enough to undertake an apprenticeship in Fire Protection. This included the installation, service and testing of fire suppression systems. After being a tradie for nearly 6 years, having worked my way up from apprentice to tradesmen then on to foreman, I developed a passion to pursue a tertiary education 12 years after I had last undertaken any type of formal education. My lack of High School qualifications made me engage on a very long and tedious path just to get accepted into university. I commenced a year 11 and 12 maths course that ran classes every Monday night after work and pursued this for 2 years finally before I achieved my Maths A and B qualification. While undertaking this course I also completed the Special Tertiary Admission Test to meet the English component of the admission procedure. Once all boxes were ticked, I stopped working full time and commenced full-time study; one of the most daring things I have ever undertaken.
My current position was obtained through a vigorous recruitment process. This involved applying for the position through my company’s website, undertaking multiple psychometric tests, then finally, multiple interviews. My offer came through off the back of my final individual interview.
As previously mentioned, my journey to University took me on a winding path that ultimately led me to be successful. Without sounding cliché, I truly believe that if I can do it, anyone can. On a personal level, my partner and family have been a big influence on helping me achieve my goals. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to be in the position I am today.
Most definitely, yes. All aspects of people can undertake the role I am in if they have the desire and passion to continue learning and improving their skills. The construction industry has a very tough and macho persona. However, these stereotypes are deliquescing as the industry aligns itself with other professions. This leaves the industry open to a multiple of disciplines and experience. Within my graduate cohort alone, there are varying levels of expertise and degrees, ranging from Construction Management, Engineering, Law and Business. This just goes to show that your background isn’t dependent on the future career goal you can achieve.
The foremost important characteristics needed in the construction industry I feel are resilience, willingness to learn, respect and being adaptable to change. Unfortunately, projects are always coming to an end and the ability to be able to move from job to job seamlessly while adapting to new surroundings is crucial. Another vital skill is having patience and knowing that you won't straight away have a vital role within the company that employees you. The pressure intensive and complex nature of construction projects makes for the ability to have a fulfilling role difficult at the initial stages of your graduate role. This leads to the skills of being patient and having the willingness to listen and learn to get the most out of your training the upmost importance.
What I love the most about my job is the ability to rotate through the company to gain knowledge in various areas before I choose a final job position. I enjoy the task of quantifying works and producing Bill of Quantities and I also enjoy engaging with the subcontractors to hear all the crazy stories they have. I know I am on the right path as there are other workers who have been on the graduate program doing very well in the company and still enjoying their job.
As I said earlier, there is a limitation as to how involved you can get with any position until you have a very good overview of what the position obtains. However, once you have been in the position for a while and grasped what is required, the only limit is to how much work your supervisor may have for you and how much you can take on without feeling overwhelmed. One physical limitation I have encountered in your personal and family life is sometimes non-existent due to always moving around the country for work and hap-hazardly working on the weekends.
The first piece of advice I would give a student is that while undertaking your degree, go and do work experience and get yourself some real hands-on knowledge of the industry. Go and see the Career Development Centre and get their advice. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without their help. Another piece of advice would be to do the very best you can to achieve the highest grades possible. Don’t just coast through thinking “p’s get degrees” and those marks will get you a good job. It is a cutthroat world and the more you can make yourself stand out from the rest, the better opportunity you are going to give yourself. When going for a job, don’t be scared about applying to big companies. Do applications for absolutely every company you feel you would like to work with because you never know until you try. The last bit of advice is to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. The Gold Coast doesn’t have many large jobs for construction therefore moving away for work is sometimes the better option. Don’t be scared to just go all out and see the countryside. Once you have achieved what you want you can always go back home, you might as well make work an adventure too!