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Graduates

Michelle Doolan

Aurecon Civil Engineer Michelle Doolan

Civil Engineer

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Time at Aurecon: 2 years
Degree completed: Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Civil Engineering) and Bachelor of Arts, Monash University
Strongest Aurecon Attribute: Unconventional thinker

When I started my degree, I really had no idea where it would take me. I had a passion for all things technical, creative and innovative. I, like many idealistic university students, wanted to change the world. Engineering seemed like the right fit – and now I know it is.

With rapid population growth continually increasing the strain on our resources, infrastructure and housing, the world will experience significant challenges in the future. It is engineering that provides the foundation for society to thrive – and, as such, it will be engineers who will help solve some of our greatest challenges.

 

Video Transcript: Aurecon Graduate Michelle Doolan Unconventional thinker

I’m Michelle Doolan. I’m a civil engineer currently based at Melbourne Metro Rail Authority in the station’s team working on the Parkville Station.

As part of my work as an engineer at Aurecon I’ve been involved in the Melbourne Metro Rail Project both on the consulting side and the client side. And that’s been anything from sustainability to requirements and standards to stakeholder consultation - so quite diverse. And then the other big project I worked on is the Furlong Main Heatherdale and Blackburne level crossing removals.

I think going forward into the future there’s a lot of exciting changes that could happen with rail. We’re already looking at high capacity metro trains where we can take more people and more trains per hour on our networks. Further afield than that there’s possibilities to manage rail via a cloud network where it’s all done remotely where going forward it could be driverless trains for example.

I chose to join Aurecon a few years actually prior to finishing university. And I saw how many places Aurecon worked and at the time I had a big thing for Africa. And I really wanted to be able to work across different countries and across different projects. So, when I was looking at all the different consultancies where they were based, the markets they were based across and the type of engineers they had it really struck me as a place I wanted to work.

I think the great thing about the Aurecon Attributes is that they encourage you to look outside purely your field of engineering and see what other talents you may have to supplement your work and how you can think beyond a typical scope say as an engineer. So, for me I feel there’s a few that I could relate to but I guess my recent award I received at Ausrail prompted me to really see that I would opt more to be an unconventional thinker particularly as someone who’s done an arts engineering degree. So, the presentation which I brought to Ausrail was in the context of community consultation but to implement virtual reality to basically engage the community along the construction phases of major projects. So instead of looking at construction as a nuisance with all the major projects going on they could see it as something exciting and something really interesting and show people how cool engineering is for lack of a better term.

I like the people I work with. I like my team. The rail team feels, I don’t know, kind of like a second family in a way. We all get along really well. I like the diversity of projects I worked on. I loved the fact that the people I worked with had allowed me to jump from one thing to the next because I don’t sit still very well. And I do feel like everyone at Aurecon has accommodated me so far in what I want to do.

My experience with Aurecon

In the two years since graduating and joining Aurecon, I have already experienced and learnt so much! From working on both the consulting and government sides of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, to owning my own design packages on major projects, such as the Furlong Main Heatherdale and Blackburn Level Crossing Removals projects in Victoria.

The rail and people teams have always got my back. My colleagues keep me engaged and foster continuous learning. They point out development opportunities such as scholarships, secondments, conferences and competitions that I should strive to attend or enter. In 2016, I applied for an ‘innovation pitch’ competition for young professionals working in rail. I pulled together an idea from my experiences with Aurecon and my secondment with Melbourne Metro Rail Authority. To my surprise, I took home the inaugural Australian Railway Association (ARA) innovation pitch trophy!

My strongest Aurecon Attribute is ‘unconventional thinker’. Through the work I have done, and my achievements to date, I can see how this attribute has helped me to innovate and deliver great outcomes for my clients and my career. If you are eager to learn and would like opportunities to take your career to new heights, then I would definitely say that Aurecon is the place for you.

My best advice to graduates

I think many university students place too much emphasis on grades, exams and assignments. While these are obviously important, I have come to realise it pays to look at the bigger picture. Many engineers can design, programme, calculate and draw – being slightly better at any of those won’t really make you stand out. You need to get out there, go to networking events, meet people, learn about companies and engage with their representatives to be noticed.

The last thing you want to be is an anonymous name in an online job application system. You want your name to be recognised, and you want to be able to build a connection with your prospective employers. If you’re a bit shy or need some help – I’d encourage you to find a mentor. There are various professional bodies around that offer this type of support, and networking will help you meet likeminded individuals keen and willing to help. Lastly, I would say learning about a potential future employer’s culture, and deciding if it is a good ‘fit’ is very important. The old cliché of being yourself and the right opportunity will arise I believe is really true. Just put yourself out there and the rest will come.

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