Early Careers at Aurecon

Eric Zhang, Civil Engineer

Eric Zhang, Aurecon Graduate, Civil Engineer
Location: Auckland
University: University of Auckland
Degree completed: Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Honours)
Strongest Aurecon Attribute: Inquisitive

My experience with Aurecon

After experiencing the internship at Aurecon in the summer holidays of 2018, I knew for a fact I would love to come back as a graduate because everyone was so kind to me, and I really enjoyed the vibe here. Luckily, Aurecon offered me a graduate role at the end of my internship.

Aurecon has also been playing a key part in almost all major projects here in Auckland, so I knew there would be countless opportunities for me to learn. In 2019, I graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Honours) and started my role as a graduate engineer in early 2020.

My role as a civil engineer in the land and water team is to provide design on utilities for a variety of projects. Utility refers to all the below and above ground services. Utilities are the “nerve centre” in an urban environment where there are numerous services that are invisible but indispensable.

Therefore, it is crucial that we, as designers, arrange these services in the most practical and economical way. We liaise with utility owners too, so that our design aligns with their requirements. I am also involved in site monitoring works – this primarily involves going to site inspections and helping contractors resolve issues they may face daily.

Since my internship at Aurecon, I have been fortunate to participate in one of the largest projects in New Zealand, the Auckland City Rail Link. It is usual to break a project with massive scale like this down into different packages or stages. One part of the package is already in construction, so I participate in the site monitoring works.

For other packages which are still in the design phase, I do utility and drainage design. Working on projects like this has helped me to develop not only the technical knowledge which I can apply in future projects, but more importantly the communication and collaboration skills you need when working on a large project like this. It’s exciting to see how a large-scale project eventually comes together and becomes a part of people’s lives here in Auckland.

My weekly schedule at Aurecon varies: I get to experience both the design and construction aspects of civil engineering by spending three days in our Auckland office and the rest of the week I go to the site office where I work with contractors, architects, clients, and people from other consultancies. It’s beneficial to participate in site works because we see what we are designing in person instead of not knowing what the final project will look like.

At Aurecon, there is a real focus on health, safety and wellbeing. This not only includes safety on-site, but also includes your wellbeing and mental health. Aurecon launched its Mind Matters programme in 2015 to improve awareness of mental ill-health and help to reduce mental health stigma in the workplace.

This means the culture surrounding seeking help is supportive and transparent, and Aurecon encourages us to be proactive in keeping ourselves and our colleagues safe. I mention this because transitioning from university to fulltime work can be overwhelming for people who have recently graduated. We have a mountain of questions and problems in front of us that we need to tackle. Just remember, there are always people around us who we can speak to and ask for help.

My best advice to graduates

  1. Have as much fun as you can! University is probably the best time of our lives to make friends and discover new things to enjoy. But of course, don’t fail all your exams.
  2. Attend university social events – especially career development ones – to help you grow your professional network, learn how to polish your resume, and develop a better understanding of your industry.
  3. Consider taking a long break before starting your first graduate job – if you can. It is important for our wellbeing to rest after grinding through all the exams and assignments during university. This break can help you feel prepared for the next journey of your life.

Looking to start your engineering career?

Your development at Aurecon.

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