Samantha is a graduate civil engineer working in the rail industry. She chats to us about working as a junior engineer and the lessons she has learnt along the way.
Can you tell us a bit about where your passion for engineering comes from?
I have always loved putting things together. I loved blocks, Lego, and building or making things with arts and crafts. When I was a kid, I remember making and planning out an airport, with cars and blocks for my brother. I also played the Sims game to build houses, rather than playing the game properly.
In high school, I always enjoyed art and maths. Originally, I thought I was going to do architecture because I knew it combined the two subjects, however my art teacher suggested engineering. He explained what engineering was to me and I was fortunate enough to do engineering studies as my year 11 and 12 elective. The elective gave me the opportunity to compete in the Engineers Australia great engineering challenge, which only furthered my passion for engineering.
What was it like working as a junior project engineer?
I started working as a junior project engineer in my third year of university at a horizontal directional drilling company. I was fortunate enough to work on many projects across New South Wales and I gained a lot of experience learning AutoCAD, designing underground assets, reading standards and plans, and conducting surveying and extracting the data. This role gave me the opportunity to use my university knowledge in the practical field and gain knowledge outside of university.
What are some of the best things about your current role?
Honestly my colleagues. I have been able to enjoy work with stressful deadlines because I always have my colleagues to fall back on to have a laugh. I have developed close connections with them, and they make work more enjoyable. I also enjoy designing and seeing my work become a real-life project in front of me. I get satisfaction from seeing it through and accomplishing projects. Even when there are days where you want to rip your hair out because your CAD froze... so always have auto save on.
What advice do you have for graduate or junior engineers?
Develop habits and workplace balance early. I enjoy a walk before work and then the gym at night. I also believe you should make connections at work because these are the people you will go through some late nights with working on submissions or the people you can go out to dinner with to ease work stress.
You never know what other career paths are out there for you so network with others in your company or organisation. Even though I studied civil engineering I am now working in rail, which involves a mix of electrical and geotechnical engineering. I believe you should go out of your comfort zone and try anything, even if you didn't necessarily study it at university because you will learn a lot on the job. I never knew what overhead wiring was until I went out of my comfort zone and applied for my current role. So go for anything and everything!