The Transfer –
How this Engineer went from undergrad to Project Manager in just two years
By Nick Kerr
It was with no small amount of excitement, satisfaction, and trepidation that I climbed the entry stairs to the foyer of my Canberra based undergraduate engineering role. I was honestly sweating bricks; I had no idea what to expect nor what the expectations were of me for my new boss and colleagues. Fortunately, the fear and uncertainty didn’t hold me back as I’d just returned from a project in Cambodia leading my peers in a similar environment – uncertainty, trepidation and ultimately excitement are no stranger to the trekker or Leader in country!
My name is Nick; I’ve been fortunate to put down the chains of academia (I’m not a studious student) and jump into the big bad world of engineering. I owe this in part to the hundred or so applications to positions I made, sheer determination and in a large way to the real-world experience I gained from Project Everest Ventures.
I have no doubt that the job I was selected for was a result of my project based experience and my leadership training.
I’ll be the first to say I’m not technically spectacular; my engineering degree taught me first that I’m not a designer and second that I love teams, projects and working with people. So I knew entering my job that I was strongest in the Project Management side of engineering. I told my Manager this during recruitment and low and behold I got the job! Honesty really is the best policy – with a little dose of self-awareness. I certainly had the resume for project-based leadership from PEV which helped my application. The true benefit resolved itself in my first few days of work.
The engineering world is full of all manner of people, from all backgrounds and all capacities, to function as an effective team. A few things became apparent to me in my new role; first that getting a group of technically minded individuals to focus on the ‘soft’ side of engineering (the non-design space where the dollars of the corporate world don’t necessarily come into play straight away) could be challenging. Fortunately through PEV I had a keen sense of how different individuals think and operate and also team dynamics. Secondly; I had the patience, leadership capacity and experience through difficult situations to step in as a green undergraduate and coordinate a team of strangers into project delivery mode.
I continued on to work across the multidisciplinary, multi-ethnic and multilingual office in project management capacities as a junior engineer. The opportunities present in the diverse office I was fortunate to engage with were vast and bountiful. I earned many great work friends and mentors in the first twelve months of my career and have since gone on to a role as a Project Manager.
I started my career as an Undergrad, and I find myself now, 2 years later, a Project Manager with two years experience in the industry. I can honestly say that not many of my peers have my experience level and on some days that is a real challenge both technically and as a young leader, but my training, experience with PEV, and the backbone of support from my friends, colleagues and continuous strive for self-improvement continues to see this little mad paddlin’ duck swimming on water!