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Civil Engineer at a Main Contractor

Q: Where are you located?

A: I am located in Melbourne, Australia.

Q: What is your role title?

A: My role title is Civil Engineer.

Q: In your words, describe what you actually do?

A: As a civil engineer, I design and oversee the construction of public works projects such as roads, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure. I create design plans, evaluate materials and construction methods, perform cost estimates, and ensure projects meet legal requirements.

Q: How long have you been doing this role for?

A: I’ve been a civil engineer for 7 years.

Q: How did you get to this point in your career?

A: I earned my bachelor's degree in civil engineering and started out doing site inspections. Over time, I took on more responsibilities in design and project management to get to where I am today. Later I completed a Masters in Project Management.

Q: When it comes to remuneration, what are your three B’s? (Base, Bonus, Benefits?)

A: My compensation package includes a base salary, annual bonus based on performance, and standard benefits like healthcare, superannuation, and holidays. My base salary is $AUD 125,000.

Q: I’m not going to ask you who you work for, but, what industry is your company in?

A: I work for a main contractor in the construction industry.

Q: When it comes to work flexibility, is your work primarily office-based, fully remote, or a mix of both? Which do you prefer? Does your company allow you to be flexible?

A: My work is a mix of office and site-based. I prefer having flexibility to work both on and off site. My company provides the ability to work remotely when needed.

Q: What does an average week or a typical day look like for you? Can you walk me through your day? What time do you arrive and start at work, what are your main tasks/responsibilities, who do you interact with, what meetings do you attend, etc.?

A: I arrive at the office around 8 AM. I check emails and voicemails, then attend a team meeting to get project updates. Later I work on current designs and plans. I'll often go out to project sites to inspect work. I interact with clients, contractors, and other engineers. My day ends around 6 PM.

Q: What does a typical day look like when things are going well vs a more challenging/stressful day?

A: On good days I'm able to focus on technical design work. Challenging days involve dealing with delays, disputes, or unexpected issues on site.

Q: What skills or knowledge are most important for your day-to-day work?

A: Technical knowledge of engineering and design, communication, project management, and problem-solving skills.

Q: What are some examples of recent accomplishments or contributions you've made in this role?

A: I recently completed the expansion of a bridge project under budget and ahead of schedule.

Q: Do you have a supportive manager and do you feel valued?

A: Yes, I have a very supportive manager. I am recognised for my contributions.

Q: How much time do you spend collaborating with colleagues vs working independently?

A: My work is a 50/50 split between independent technical work and collaborating with others.

Q: Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting this role?

A: I wish I had known just how fast-paced and demanding the work can be in the beginning.

Q: What do you hate most about your role?

A: The stressful situations that can happen when projects face delays or other unforeseen issues.

Q: What do you love most about your role?

A: I love seeing infrastructure projects that I designed come to life and benefit the public.

Q: What’s the next role for you and when do you hope to achieve this?

A: In 2 years I hope to move into a senior project management role.

Q: Is your next role going to be with the same company or a different one?

A: I plan to progress my career at my current firm as it’s a fantastic place to work!

Q: What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone who aspires to reach your position?

A: Learn all you can about every aspect of a project, not just the engineering. Communication and teamwork are just as important as technical skills.

Q: It’s Day 1 for someone in your role. What one piece of advice would you give them to succeed?

A: Here is the one piece of advice I would give to someone starting out in their first civil engineering role:

Ask questions! Don't be afraid to ask your supervisor, colleagues, contractors - anyone who can provide guidance. Engineering is complicated and you won't have all the answers, especially early on.

Admitting what you don't know and seeking that knowledge is key. Ask about technical aspects of the job, but also about company processes and unwritten rules. The more information you can gather from the experience of others, the smoother your transition will be.

Stay curious, be humble, and don't assume you should have everything mastered on day one. Asking questions shows initiative and will set you up for success.

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