For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that you’ve acquired the basic prerequisites for a career in mining—that is, a relevant degree or other accreditation. Having done that, the question becomes: how can you differentiate yourself from everybody else with the same qualification?
The good news is that mining organisations are extremely diverse and rely on the contributions of employees with equally varied skillsets. So, if you’re wondering how to get your resume to the top of the pile, here are some things you might want to consider doing.
Code is gradually replacing more traditional mechanical ways of solving certain problems—when, for example, a microcomputer can automatically adjust fuel emissions in your car to maximise efficiency, it’s no longer necessary for a piece of mechanical equipment to do the same thing.
In the mining sector, advances in software design and data analytics have transformed everything from how prospectors gather information about possible mine sites to how engineers model various industrial processes. Consequently, the ability to code is highly prized by major mining sector employers, who see it not only as a useful skills but as encouraging evidence that a candidate possesses self-discipline and the ability to think through complex problems.
It’s possible, even while studying, to give your future self a boost by completing work experience with an organisation related to the sector in which you’d like to start your career. For example, Brendan Littlewood, an engineering student who now works for mining supplier Orica, completed internships as a mining engineer. Similarly, Hannah Wiseman worked for Bluescope Steel while also completing a degree in materials engineering. This allowed her to successfully apply for a graduate role with South32.
One thing that comes up time and time again when speaking to mining employees is the importance of interpersonal skills, especially if you’re going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with your colleagues on two-week rotations. With mining companies constantly trying to attract foreign investors or strike supply deals with foreign entities, one way you can distinguish yourself is by learning an economically important language (like Spanish or Chinese). This will also help you to connect more meaningfully with any colleagues who come from abroad.
Many of the most lucrative and exciting jobs in the mining industry will require you to assume additional responsibilities, which might include supervising or directing a small team. You can give yourself a head start by demonstrating that you already have leadership experience. Be sure to emphasise, on your application, the leadership roles you’ve had in the past—this could be anything from a position as school prefect to an executive role for a university club or society.
It’s customary now for engineering undergraduates to have their honours thesis included as part of their undergraduate degree program. If you have the opportunity to write about something exciting, or particularly relevant to mining organisations, you can aim to share it in either an academic journal or a trade publication. This gives you something to emphasise when asked to provide evidence of your enthusiasm for, and understanding of, the mining industry.