I have lived here in Alexandra since 2005, but before that I was living in the deep south In Invercargill.
I am 18 years old and graduated from Dunstan High School. I have been part of the local Air Force Cadets since 2012, and in 2018 I represented the New Zealand Cadet Forces in the USA as part of an international exchange programme. I travelled from Washington D.C. to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado to visit local squadrons and air force bases. My original plan was to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force, but that didn’t work out as planned.
So, I started looking around for another option and found WSP was looking for a Cadet Surveyor. I accepted the Cadet role in February 2019, and now I am working in the Alexandra office.
Visiting the USA – standing in front of the Washington Monument.
What has your time at WSP involved so far?
I am learning a great deal working on site with others and seeing how construction projects are started. Since joining WSP, I have been involved in many different projects with the surveying team here in Alexandra. In my first week of work, we were surveying the Clyde Dam, which was awesome. I have also done some work over in the Waitaki region and in the Queenstown/Frankton area.
I’ve been involved with levelling across the face of New Zealand’s largest man-made earth dam and going along the Crown Range in the snow for new guardrail extensions. I also do office work, which varies from processing survey work to doing some research work to data processing for the geotechnical and environment teams in the office.
I’m also studying for my diploma in surveying with NZIHT in Hamilton as a block course. This means traveling back and forth every month for a block study. My studies are going well with the balance of work and assessments. I am also getting some tutoring, which is very helpful and has certainly improved my maths. The courses up in Hamilton are good not only because they teach you about different core subjects, but also the tutors push you to develop and think for yourself; you must work to be able to get the answers you need.
Why did you join the WSP Cadetship Programme?
I joined WSP because they offered a varied workload and flexibility with working life and studies. The work environment here in Alexandra is great and pretty relaxed. I can work on my studies or get help from the team as I need it. And I prefer having the mix of both site work and office work rather than working in an office all day every day. The variety in the job has been great because I then get to learn and understand what we do and play a small part in new developments in the region.
What is a normal work day like for you?
The answer is quite simple… No day is normal! Each day is different, and it’s exciting to see what is going to happen during the day or the week. It can change quickly.
For instance, I can be working in the office in the morning and then in the afternoon heading off to Queenstown to do some work for the local council as an urgent job. Or I could be packing my bag for a few days away on a dam survey project.
Levelling at the Clyde Dam spillway.
How have you found balancing work and study?
At the moment, I’m intermittently working on projects; I’m never set on one particular project. For example, one week I was working a project for the geotechnical team processing some data for a bridge investigation, and then I was helping the environment team assess historical maps and surveys for a site, and then I was drawing up some plans for use in a report. So, the workload really does vary, though I work regular hours from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm five days a week.
I do get some time to study and do some homework, because I need to study to be able to pass my courses and assessments. I roughly spend around eight hours a week studying. If I attend a block course, that is usually a whole week gone in travelling and study up in Hamilton.
I like working at WSP as there is a big challenge to balance my time, keep a professional working environment and build personal relationships at work too. It’s important because the atmosphere in the Alexandra office is more of a family atmosphere, where we all look after each other and all get along.
What is the culture like at WSP?
I like how WSP is accepting of different people from different cultures, countries and walks of life. We have several people from all over the world working in our office, and this is really interesting and great fun for World Cups and sporting events!
Measuring silt levels in Lowburn Dam with the Trimble S6 and Controller.
What are your plans for the future?
I actually don’t know! I do want to stay on and study and work for WSP and gain some qualifications. And next year I am hoping that my partner and I will travel over to Canada for a while and then we will see...
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a diploma in Surveying?
My piece of advice is to go for it even if you do not think that you are the smartest and fittest person; you can still do it! There will be tutors and other people who can help you along the way. You can also gain knowledge of how the local dams, roads and areas were formed what we see now. My boss helped build the Clyde Dam, and now I know a lot more about it than what I did a couple years ago. If you are looking for something different and looking for something that gets you up and mostly out of the office, then I do think that doing a diploma in surveying while working is the best way to go.
Representing the 50 Sqn ATC on ANZAC day.