Water Journal : Water Journal September 2015
23 AWA News september 2015 WAter BRANCH NEWS ACT Student Careers Evening The ACT Branch held its inaugural Student Careers Evening on 20 August 2015 at the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society. Twenty-three students from the University of Canberra, the Australian National University and the Canberra Institute of Technology attended and were treated to inspirational talks by young individuals working in the water sector, a question- and-answer panel session, as well as pizza and drinks provided by event sponsor Alluvium. Noreen Vu, ACT Government Policy Advisor on water-related documents such as water-sensitive urban design, was the evening’s first presenter. Describing the route to her current role as indirect, Noreen highlighted that a career in water can be successful through persistence and taking advantage of opportunities, despite a sometimes-convoluted path into the sector. “The path into my job at the ACT Government was definitely not direct,” said Noreen. “If there was one piece of advice that I could give students it’s to take advantage of opportunities as they come up.” The next speaker was Georgia Davis, who discussed her career in international development as Program Coordinator for Thrive Network’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Georgia noted that new graduates with aspirations for an international development water career can gain employment by moving to countries where improvement in WASH is a prominent focus, rather than trying to attain such work from within Australia. “I built relationships with Vietnamese people I already knew working in the sector when I got there. I started as a volunteer, and taught English after work hours to earn money. With some hard work and good luck, I now have a great job working in their WASH program.” Dr Walter Reinhardt, a consultant at the international consulting firm Arup and member of the ACT Branch Committee, also contributed to organising the event and rose to the high bar set by Georgia and Noreen. Walter described his career in water as one that he came to indirectly through degrees in agriculture, finance, and environmental science. He outlined that his career required patience and persistence, an often-repeated theme for the evening. “I had 13 interviews before winning one of my previous jobs, and that took a lot of time. Just be persistent and keep working at getting a job, because it will happen,” he said. The evening’s final words were presented by David Barratt of Alluvium. “I’m actually quite a shy person,” said David. “So engaging with potential clients when I first took on a consulting job was hard, but I was quite surprised at how willing and nice most people are if you reach out to them. Students need to start conversations by trying to find out what they can about a potential employer. It’s a good way to break the ice – asking about them rather than ‘pitching’ yourself – and I think you’ll be surprised at how welcoming most people will be.” During the question-and-answer panel session Daniela Cortez, another Branch member who helped organise the event, highlighted the unique opportunities that a Careers Evening can provide. “It was at an Australian Water Association Careers Evening just like this one where I was inspired to commit to the water industry,” said Daniela. “Students should not be afraid to ask questions and be proactive in pursuing their water career, particularly if it’s their passion. It’s a remarkable and rewarding career and opportunities appear when you least expect it.” Students took Daniela’s advice and stayed until well after talks were over, making the most of the opportunity to network with the speakers and other students and to ask further questions. “It was empowering to see so many students turn out from across the ACT and to see how intent they were on the speakers,” said Dr Julia Jasonsmith of Murrang Earth Sciences, another member who helped organise the event. “The speakers’ advice was frank and fearless. I hope students from a wide range of backgrounds were encouraged that they can and should pursue a career in water if that’s what they want, even if their marks aren’t the top of the class or even close to it.” New Committee Appointments The 2015–2017 committee work has commenced with Adrian Piani, Canberra Manager, AECOM, re-elected as President of the ACT Branch and Michael Ross appointed Vice President. The committee welcomes new members Andrew Grant (ICON) and Rachel England (Alluvium) who join returning members Simon Webber, Michael Ross, Bradford Sherman, Daniela Cortez, Julia Jasonsmith and Walter Reinhardt. We would like to thank retiring members Julien Lepetit, Akshay Thakare and Vince Keogh. Following a successful ACT careers night in August, we are looking to build the profile of the Australian Water Association with students and young professionals who have just entered the industry. We are currently working on a mentor program for launch early next year and welcome input from any Association member. The Australian Water Association is participating in the ACT & Region Integrated Catchment Management Strategy and we will have events and targeted communications to engage with our members on this issue following the release of the draft strategy near the end of the year. We are already planning the annual Water Matters Conference, to be held Wednesday 15 June 2016, and the need for integrated catchment management will be a core theme of this program. Upcoming events: • ACT Awards close on 14 October (Postgraduate Award closes on 5 October with presentations on 29 October). Winners are announced on 9 December; • Debate on the Lake – 9 December.
Water Journal August 2015
Water Journal November 2015