I attended Karamu High School, but wasn’t the most dedicated student at that time. At the end of year assembly my physics teacher came up to me and asked what my plans were for the next year. I told her I was planning to study engineering at University of Canterbury. She said she thought it was a terrible idea and that I’d drop out before the end of the year.
It was harsh to hear but she knew my study abilities, and I knew she was right. She told me to apply at WSP (then known as Opus) for a cadetship. I joined as a Cadet in January 2012 in the Napier office. While working I studied a diploma in Civil Engineering, which I completed in 2015, at the New Zealand Institute of Highway Technology (NZIHT).
In 2016 I went on to study a Bachelor of Construction Engineering at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). I took time off work to study full-time, working as an intern during study breaks. During my studies I also moved to the laboratory team and then to the Geotechnical team in Auckland, where I will soon be starting in my role as a Graduate Engineer Geotechnical.
How would you compare studying for a diploma to studying for a degree?
Studying at NZIHT was very different to studying at university. At NZIHT I was studying part-time while working full-time. It was fairly intense, but both NZIHT and WSP were lenient and understanding of the dual commitments. Having now studied at AUT, I preferred the part-time study for three reasons:
- The courses were run in block courses. This meant three eight-hour days of learning with a test at the end, followed by an assignment before the second block course. The study was completed quickly, which allowed me to carry on with work and other commitments. At university, those 24 hours are split over eight weeks, which seemed to drag the study out for an eternity.
- Study was very focused on one topic, which made it easier to pass the test at the end of the course.
- I could choose how many papers to study at a time.
How did working while studying help with your studies and work?
Working while studying helped a lot. For instance, when completing my civil draughting paper I had been in the design team and used CAD before, I had a major advantage over most of the others and consequently found the course fairly easy. If I had any questions I could just ask my team at work.
If the courses didn’t relate directly to the work I was doing at the time, it was still helpful to talk and share knowledge with like-minded people. The courses often provided a base knowledge of engineering practices.
What is it like to work at WSP?
Working for WSP is great. As WSP is such a big company, one of the benefits is the vast range of knowledge that is available. I know that whenever I run into a problem I don’t understand there is always someone who does. The professionals who work here are a treasured resource.
Because WSP has such a wide range of people, there is a very broad cultural field to navigate. I find this to be difficult at times, but I know it improves me as an individual and widens my understanding of people and the world. I love working with a variety of people and learning about the different cultures around me.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work I’m a bit of a boring person. I’ve recently gotten into photography which takes up a lot of time with all the editing and researching the gear to use. I love music and play several instruments, though only have one of my basses in Auckland. I attend LIFE church on Sundays and a connect group on Wednesday nights.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m not completely sure. On the one hand, I’m very happy in the Geotechnical team and enjoy working with rocks, dirt and the ground. It’s what I grew accustomed to in the lab, and it’s what I’m comfortable with. On the other hand, I always told myself I wanted to be a structural engineer.
In the next five years I see myself still working for WSP. I would like to travel for a short period, so perhaps a one-year transfer to Canada will be in the cards. In the next 10 years I would like to be a Charted Professional Engineer and working towards becoming a senior engineer.
I’m looking forward to working full-time in a Graduate role and furthering my career with WSP. I’m honestly pretty sick of studying. That being said, both my brothers are Medical Doctors, so I am tempted to get my PhD. If I do study further, I would apply for a study award grant to have financial support from WSP.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a diploma in Surveying?
A diploma is a great way to get into engineering with generally more hands-on experience than a bachelor’s. Engineering is difficult, but if you persevere you can do anything. If you’re not understanding what is being discussed in class, there is a high chance you’re not the only one. Don’t be embarrassed to say so and ask for help or for the teacher to explain again.