I was born in Kawerau, which is in the Bay of Plenty, and lived there for 18 years. After school I went to University of Otago for one year, studying toward a degree in food science. I didn’t enjoy it, so after the first year I moved to Whakatāne.
I worked in cafes for a while before completing a three-year cheffing apprenticeship at a restaurant in Whakatāne. I then moved to London and worked there for two years. Once my working visa expired, I backpacked around Europe for three months.
I returned to Whakatāne and worked at the restaurant where I had done my apprenticeship. After 11 months back in New Zealand I moved to Whistler, Canada for 14 months. I then did an 18,000 km road trip across Canada and the USA.
I moved back to New Zealand and later bought a house in Tauranga. At the end of 2017 I decided it was time for a change, so I enrolled to study a diploma of Civil Engineering at Toi Ohomai in Tauranga. In October 2017 I was hit while riding my bike by a car travelling 90 km/h, which caused my femur to shatter. So, my first year of study also involved a lot of recovery and rehab.
Toward the end of my first year of study I started applying for summer internships and cadetships. I was offered a Cadet role with WSP in October 2018 and started after my final exams in November 2018.
Why did you join the WSP Cadetship Programme?
The opportunity to work while studying appealed to me. I like hands-on learning, so the chance to work in the industry I was studying to become part of seemed like a perfect fit. And WSP is a big company with varied disciplines, such as transport, geotechnical, surveying, structures and environment. I wanted the opportunity WSP provides to get a feel for different parts of the industry, and from that I hope to discover which specialisation I want to pursue in the future.
How has working at WSP been so far?
In the beginning every day was different as I helped with projects where I was able. I have worked with the design team on CAD software, learnt and worked with geographic information system software on speed reviews and been out with a Geotechnical Engineer to do some hand augers. I recently finished managing my first project, which was an asset management survey.
So far, I have just been working within the transport team, but I have a plan set up to move into the geotechnical lab and then geotechnical team in a few months. WSP has an environment where you can control your future. If you are happy where you are, then you can stay in that role. If you are happy but want to try something new, then WSP will support you to make the change and try something new.
What is the culture like at WSP?
I have enjoyed working for WSP. The company seems to have a great sense of creating a good work-life balance for the staff. For instance, we have flexible working hours and fun social events.
Our social club organises staff events each month, such as a curry lunch, a quiz lunch and a race where we competed in teams to complete tasks around town. For the Rugby World Cup, the office was split into teams and assigned a country. We had bake offs between the teams fortnightly with scoring based on dress up, decorations and food.
How has working while studying helped you with your studies and work?
Working while studying has given me more insight into the engineering industry, and I don’t have to study as long at home. All the people at work also help answer any questions I have as best they can.
Studying has enabled me to learn about areas outside of transportation. This gives me insight into what the other teams in the business are doing and has allowed me to understand things quicker than a teacher explaining something from scratch.
How have you found balancing work and study?
I study at Toi Ohomai one day a week and work the other four days. The study day changes with the semester depending on when the classes are scheduled.
I often try to use the evening of my study day to do my assignments, so it is all contained. I don’t dedicate a certain amount of time each week to study. It depends on the amount of assignments and whether a test is coming up. I study for tests and exams in the evenings and sometimes (especially for exams) on the weekends.
What are your plans for the future?
At this stage, my plans are a work in progress. I want to continue working in different teams to get a good understanding of all the disciplines that work together to complete the bigger projects. After finishing my diploma, I may look into doing a Bachelor’s degree in engineering. But at this stage I’m just focusing on learning at work and finishing my diploma study.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a diploma in Engineering?
The diploma can take you a long way in your career. You don’t have to have a degree to get a job.