I graduated from an undergraduate degree in Electrical Power Engineering at Curtin University in 2012. Since then, I have been working as a graduate electrical engineer in the Non-Process Infrastructure department of BHP Billiton Iron Ore. I currently work FIFO to Port Hedland.
My career journey began in my second year of university when I started applying for roles as a vacation student. After applying for many companies, I eventually received a call from Chevron asking me for an interview. I wanted to brush up on my interview skills so made an appointment with a career development consultant. I met with Amanda who went through some basic interview techniques and suggested ways for me to conduct myself at my interview with Chevron. I was introduced to the basic ‘STAR’ and ‘SAO’ approaches to answering interview questions but the confidence that I gained was the most valuable thing I got from the experience. I later went to my interview and made a good enough impression to be awarded the role of vacation student in Chevron’s Gorgon Operations department.
After completing my vacation program at Chevron in 2011, I enrolled myself in the Next Step Mentoring program. This was where I was paired up with a future colleague from BHP Billiton. He reiterated the importance of getting site experience and even offered me the opportunity to visit him in his office and check out what he does for his job as a control engineer. With his mentoring, I decided to apply for a vacation position with BHP Billiton and later a graduate position.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself the seven following hints and tips:
- You create your own luck – Your career isn’t about ‘getting lucky’. Successful people are able to recognise opportunities and seize them. Utilise whatever resources you have at your disposal, the Curtin Careers Centre is free, use it!
- Practise your soft skills – As an engineer in the mining industry, I find that my technical ability is more defined than my soft skills. Learn to work with others and practice your time management by writing a to-do list and keeping to it.
- Juggle some hats – It depends on what you want to get from your life but I believe that balance is a key to success. Get involved with your community, whether it’s volunteering in a university club or your local sporting club. These positions pay in other ways that aren’t money.
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone – One extremely important thing I’ve learned at BHP Billiton is to get out of my comfort zone. You only learn and develop as a person when you’re feeling uncomfortable. Look for opportunities to get uncomfortable whether it’s going on exchange or volunteering for a presentation.
- Get to know people – Networking is essential. You never know where a potential opportunity lies, getting to know people and leaving an impression on them can make the difference between you getting the job and not getting the job. Don’t undermine the importance of having a beer with your class mates.
- Be somebody that others can rely on – Help people out when they need it and look outside of your circle of influence. Don’t get stuck in the ‘looking after me and mine’ mindset. You need help and so do others. Pass the buck.
- Work hard – If you’re an engineer, get some site experience. It doesn’t matter whether you want to work in design or operations. Get some practical site experience and learn about the equipment. Keep doing it until you’re confident of your abilities as an engineer.