After considering studying creative arts, Courtney’s career path has certainly taken a different turn. Following in her father’s project manager footsteps, she eventually settled on a civil engineering degree, and she hasn’t looked back.
Eager to get some hands-on work experience before completing her degree at Swinburne University of Technology, Courtney applied to Symal’s Charge undergraduate program in her fourth year of study.
With only theoretical knowledge under her belt, Courtney joined our Infrastructure team on the Palmers Dunnings Road upgrade project at the final stages of construction. The end of a project may seem like a strange place to start, but it gave her great insight into the importance of Quality Assurance and organisation throughout the project lifecycle. Shadowing the supervisors and senior engineers also gave Courtney insight into the various construction activities she would eventually undertake. Even the overpowering smell of fresh asphalt wasn’t enough to put her off as she watched it being laid in fascination, developing an understanding of the labouring process.
After seeing her first project through to completion, Courtney joined one of Symal’s most significant projects, the Chisholm Road Prison. Here she experienced the commencement of the project, developing an understanding of the tendering and design processes. Taking on more responsibilities, Courtney was involved in managing document control, drawing registers, the onboarding process and sub-contractors, quality assurance and safe work methods.
Seeing a prison project of this scale being built from the ground up has been invaluable for Courtney, observing processes undertaken by both the engineers and labourers for a complete understanding of the overall construction process. Shadowing supervisors on the job provided the opportunity to ask questions in the moment, providing clarity on construction methods.
It’s not all about technical knowledge and skills though. Courtney has developed an appreciation of managing and establishing stakeholder relationships and the importance of communication in running a smooth project.
By the end of her 12-month placement, Courtney has seen firsthand various works including bulk earthworks, trenching, the construction of flexible pavements, construction of concrete pavements and building slabs.
Struggling in the beginning to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge from her degree that focused more on engineering design and the real-life challenges on a live project, she now has more understanding of the construction-based concepts and the industry in general.
Learning from site supervisors, foreman and her fellow engineers on-site, Courtney has developed well-rounded knowledge and understanding of programming works, site operations, plant and their uses and the importance of working well with subcontractors and clients to keep the project on track.
Being mentored and coached by senior construction staff, site supervisors, fellow engineers, and labourers has not only given Courtney a greater insight into the work involved it’s also confirmed her conviction to pursue a career in the construction industry.
The experience of working whilst studying has ignited an even greater interest in working on projects many people will benefit from and experience. Her dream would be to one day have friends and family use a road or building that she’s played a large part in the construction and development.