I am a graduate civil engineer with the ground engineering and tunnelling team in Auckland, New Zealand. I began working for AECOM as a summer intern at the end of 2013 and was offered a graduate position when I finished my studies. I started full time in February 2015. My main interest is geotechnical engineering, and I am keen to get more involved in tunnelling projects.

I remember feeling nervous for my first day of work. I previously worked as a summer intern in the Auckland office, but felt there would be extra pressure on a graduate. I was worried I would be given menial tasks to complete or the opposite… that I would be given something I couldn’t handle. This wasn’t the case at all. I quickly realised everyone was there to help and they all made me feel I was part of the team. I appreciate that the focus for graduates is on teaching and training, learning on the job and growing your skill base. I was given real projects to work on, but also the support I needed to succeed.

The NDG Auckland Centre is the coolest project I have worked on so far. It is a 49-storey retail and hotel complex with a five-storey basement that will be built in the middle of the Auckland Central Business District. My role on the project comprises both technical design and project management components. I have been involved in the design of the basement retaining wall, which includes developing retaining options and assessing the effects of basement construction on the surrounding environment. The most interesting part of the project is addressing the complexities of building a basement when your site is surrounded by other building foundations, buried utilities and other major construction projects.

As a graduate, I took part in the Growing Professional Skills (GPS) training programme, which aims to support your progression through the company. In the programme, you meet graduates from around the country at training days throughout the year. I have been able to network with colleagues in the Christchurch and Hamilton offices who I can then reach out to if I need help with something I am working on. Senior people within the business also present at training days and this creates an opportunity to network with them, too.

I have found the best way to make connections is by getting away from your desk and talking to people. It is really easy to send an email, but you don’t get the same quality of interaction as you do when you have a face-to-face conversation. I now have great working relationships with people in other business lines and I can communicate more effectively. This has enabled me to work on a variety of projects outside my business line, giving me exposure to many kinds of engineering.

In my experience, I can genuinely say everyone on my team has helped me in some way. I learn something new every day just from having conversations with people. And all the graduates help and support each other through the sharing of our experiences.