On the job with a Graduate Engineer at Lendlease

Erin Delaney
Team GradAustralia
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Selene studied a Master of Engineering (Telecommunications) at The University of New South Wales and graduated in 2014

What do you do day-to-day?

I work in the Services business at Lendlease, one of Australia’s tier-one property and infrastructure companies. I primarily work on network maintenance and remediation projects. I’ve been working at Lendlease in the graduate program for almost a year.

There’s a wide range of work falling into Services, such as Power, Water, Roads and Telecommunications. To be honest, before I got into the company I would never have imagined Lendlease had such a broad work scope — I thought they mainly focused on building and construction.

On my projects, I deal with network cable installation and remediation. We need to go onsite to conduct surveys, then analyse data to finalise our design. I manage the technician crew finishing up the final installations; seeing my work being carried out into reality is exciting.

What's your background?

I was born and grew up in Shanghai, one of the biggest cities in China. After graduation, I decided to take an adventure overseas, and this decision brought me to where I am now.

I studied electrical and telecommunications engineering for my bachelors degree while I was at home, then I moved here and completed my masters degree in telecommunications at UNSW. Different teaching and learning styles has helped me to think outside the box and approach problems in different ways.

I was lucky enough to get into the Lendlease graduate program, and find myself on a project that aligns with what I learned at university.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

I would say... maybe. To do the core of my job, you would definitely need a certain level of engineering knowledge in order to understand the network design and technical terms. But I don’t think someone has to have exactly the same background as me to do my job. Diversity in the team is very important, as everyone can and should contribute. I believe that while university doesn’t teach you the engineering knowledge you will need at work, it will definitely teach you a logical ”engineering” mind – how to process a problem and find solutions. So, if someone can make a big effort and is eager to learn, I think they will do very well in the job.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

During the last 10 months, I was able to be involved with different projects. One thing I enjoy about my job is the diversity. I was assigned different tasks on each project, so I got to use and build up different skills and expertise.

I also think it’s the opportunities I’ve been given. Working on different projects, I’ve definitely gained a better insight of our business and a better understanding of our processes. I was able to attend client meetings, work onsite and even work in different states. It’s exciting whenever I can meet different people or go onsite to check how the crew is doing their work.

What are the limitations of your job?

I remember on my first day, my colleague said to me, “You are the only one with a professional telecommunications degree, you must be an expert!” Sometimes people will expect I know everything, but most of the time I need to learn from the start. Lack of experience is a block for me from achieving better results. But on the other side, as a graduate, I am eager to learn every single day. So it is also a good opportunity for developing my skills. Lendlease provides me with a lot of training opportunities that help me to grow.

Another challenge is to go onsite. As an engineer, site experience is just as important as a strong knowledge base. Being able to understand what’s going on onsite, what the obstacles are and how to solve them is something I can never learn from books. But working onsite means you start early with the crew and occasionally need to deal with emergency situations, which require not only experience but also a lot of energy and concentration on the job.

Three pieces of advice for keen students

  • First, be open-minded and try to gain different types of experience. Good academic results are important, but social skills are also important. Try different things and be adventurous.
  • Secondly, attend career seminars and development workshops. If there aren’t a lot of opportunities to gain experience on your own, then you can learn from others. Usually guest speakers will share their stories and give useful tips.
  • Last but not least, develop a hobby. We need to find balance between life and work. Sometimes you might feel stressed, so find something you enjoy doing and make it a way to relax.