I first heard about the Cadetship Programme back when I was in high school from a family friend who also works for WSP. I joined WSP in January 2018 straight out of high school. I was immediately taken out of my comfort zone and had to transition into work-mode. Since joining WSP, I have been an Assistant Land Surveyor, a Junior Field Technician and now a Cadet in the Asset Management team.
I am currently enrolled at the New Zealand Institute of Highway Technology (NZIHT), where I am in my second year of completing a diploma in Civil Engineering. The diploma offers a myriad of specialist courses that are all civil engineering related. From water and wastewater management to highway technology, the courses have all helped me in my development as a Cadet and in my understanding of the industry.
How has working while studying helped you with your studies?
Being surrounded by engineers has helped me greatly in my progress as a Cadet. I have some people in my office that have completed the diploma and been in the same position that I am in now. They let me know what to expect and give me personal relief knowing that they’ve been down a similar path. And others in the business are experts on a particular topic I’m studying and are willing to offer me a helping hand when needed.
How has working while studying helped you with your work?
Studying part-time whilst working full-time is a great way to understand what your job entails. The wide range of qualifications that I have completed during my tenure with the company have given me a fantastic insight into the world of civil engineering and have helped benefit my job immensely. My education through NZIHT has helped establish a vast knowledge of topics that I now use daily.
Why did you join the WSP Cadetship Programme?
The idea of studying whilst working was something that enticed me from the start. Coming out of school, my mind wasn’t set on anything, and I knew I didn’t want to go to university. The job offered me something that no career advisor at school had suggested, which was the opportunity to further my education in an interesting profession whilst simultaneously having the ability to work in that same field of expertise.
How has the programme been so far?
The Cadetship Programme certainly took some getting used to. There have been times when the balance between assignments, exams and work deadlines have made my panic meter hit red. However, the benefits that the programme has given me make it worthwhile and have helped me grow as a young Cadet. The study award grants that WSP offer every year to pay for my diploma and course materials have been an immeasurable help for myself and my family. I am very lucky to be part of this programme.
What is a normal work day like for you?
As a Cadet in the Asset Management team, I help with handling jobs like project completion documents and data collection. I use applications like RAMM and AutoCAD to authorise and inform our clients of the assets within their building site, such as the makeup and position of streetlights, footpaths and roads. The role has enable me to travel to all corners of Auckland and even to other parts of New Zealand, such as Queenstown where I worked rating the conditions of footpaths for a week.
What does your study for the diploma entail?
Every couple of weeks I have block courses with NZIHT that are led by tutors in a small class with other Cadets. The block courses are for a few days. We are given assignments to complete outside of class, and at the end of each semester we have exams.
How have you found balancing work and study?
Part-time study and full-time work has been relatively stress free. Balancing enough time to complete assignments in between can be hard. However, diamonds are made under pressure. Doing both means my mind is always occupied by something engineering related. It is a great way on staying focused in both aspects.
What is the culture like at WSP?
The family-like environment of the Manukau branch was first mentioned to me by my friend before I even had my interview. The culture at WSP is unique. There is always someone willing to lend a hand, and I thoroughly believe that I’ve grown up and become a more accomplished person since joining. The people here recognise me as an established member of the team and as one of their peers. It’s is a far cry from the treatment I thought I’d be getting as a fresh-faced kid straight out of high school.
Are you involved with any activities outside of work?
I am still able to maintain a social life outside of work. I play football during the winter seasons and have been a drummer in a few bands. Both give a sense relief when work seems to take precedent, and it’s great to be able to take a break and do something I enjoy when I feel overwhelmed.
What are your plans for the future?
I aim to complete my diploma by the year 2021. By then I will be a graduate with four years of experience and a good knowledge of the industry. I would love to have the option to further pursue knowledge by completing a Master’s degree. However, my focus right now is on completing my diploma.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a diploma in Civil Engineering?
Most people that I meet have the same response when I tell them what I do for a living: “I wish I could’ve done that.” The ability to work and study is an opportunity that I only thought was limited to the conventional trades of plumbing, building, etc. But a cadetship in civil engineering opens many doors into an ever-growing industry where you will come out of it a fully qualified professional with several years of experience and no student loan!