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University of New South Wales
Anjhavi Sundararaju studied a Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Honours) from the University of New South Wales.
What do you love about your job?
I really enjoy the rotational aspect of Laing O’Rourke’s Graduate Development Programme. It allows me to be exposed to different types of projects like rail, buildings and roads. So far, I have had the opportunity to be involved in the delivery of a roads project, and the bid stage of a building [project].
What are your areas of responsibility?
Due to the graduate programme, my areas of responsibility change with each rotation. My first position was within the Planning and Project Controls team on the Pacific Highway upgrade project in Ballina. My team was responsible for monitoring and reporting on the progress of [the] project, and I was responsible for assisting the team with the preparation of onboarding the major earthworks and bridges packages. This involved creating reporting templates and dashboards to record progress, updating programs, creating digital engineering visualisations of the project with traffic staging, and more.
Tell us about a favourite project or task.
My favourite task by far was developing the 4D model of the Pacific Highway upgrade, to include traffic staging for a section of the highway. The construction programme was set up against the model to enable a 3D time lapse of the project, and I advanced the model to highlight the different traffic switches throughout the project. This was a very useful tool to communicate with key stakeholders.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
If you would like to enter the construction industry, there isn’t just the path of engineering and construction management; there [are] many different roles available, including finance, commercial, procurement, and human resources. For my role, you would need some sort of engineering or construction management background as you would be interpreting drawings and facing technical terms. In saying that, a construction project requires many different disciplines to work. I think it is very important for a project team to be diverse to enable different thinking.
What skills are necessary to succeed in your industry?
Being open-minded and adaptable are key skills to succeed in the construction industry. It is a dynamic environment and as clichéd as it sounds, you need to be ready to expect the unexpected on the job. Whilst it can be challenging and quite demanding, the people I have worked with have said that it has been a very rewarding field to work in.
What advice do you have for students considering work experience?
Definitely put your hand up for work experience. Your degree is important, but more so is supplementing it with industry-related experience. It is helpful to see if the industry suits you, and advances your communication and interpersonal skills – which are essential for any industry.
Any final words of wisdom?
Go to career fairs and workshops. Whilst you probably won’t get a job off the bat, it’s a great way to learn about what is happening in the industry, which companies you could work for and what their company culture is like.