Charlotte Yeo, Civil Engineer
||Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours)
|Year of graduation:
When Charlotte Yeo first started out as an intern at Aurecon, she was unsure which career path to take. But time in the Roads team helped uncover her passion and paved the way for her career as a graduate.
How did you end up studying engineering?
I was born into a ‘maths and science-oriented’ family, so I kind of knew when I was younger that my future career was most likely going to be related in that field. I never thought that I would be into engineering because I was more interested in physics when I was in high school. It wasn’t until I won the Engineers Australia Year 10 prize at my school when I started wondering about what it would mean to be an engineer.
I attended an all-girls school that didn’t have an engineering subject, so I took design and technology as an elective course. This is where I discovered my passion for designing solutions for complex problems that have a positive impact. After my major work for design and technology in Year 12 was nominated to be in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, I became 100 per cent certain that I wanted to become an engineer.
What was your internship at Aurecon like?
The Internship Programme at Aurecon was such a rewarding experience that enabled me to grow as an engineer and as an individual.
I joined the Roads team in our Sydney office, which was an area of engineering that I didn’t have much experience in at university. The majority of my time was spent working on one of the milestones of the Great Western Highway Tunnel’s concept design, where I worked with another engineer in our team to design the active transport corridor and directional signage for the project.
Despite my lack of experience in this area, I am really grateful that I became a part of this project because it gave me a taste of different engineering disciplines. This helped me understand which path I wanted to pursue after studying, and it’s now safe to say that my heart is in roads engineering.
Once the Internship Programme finished, I continued to work 2 to 3 days a week at Aurecon while still attending university. After I complete my degree at the end of 2022, I am excited to continue working with Aurecon’s Roads team, but this time as part of the Graduate Programme!
What were the highlights of your internship?
I want to say the whole internship was a highlight as I loved it so much! I loved working on the Great Western Highway Tunnel because I didn’t expect that I would be able to work on such an important and critical project as an intern.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the innovation challenge which all the interns across Australia and New Zealand participated in and learned a lot about Aurecon’s innovation tools. We were placed into groups of five and had to create a solution for Aurecon to help employees reduce waste at home, office, or a third space. As part of the challenge, we presented our ideas to fellow interns, our line managers and even members of the senior leadership team including managing directors.
And lastly, the people were also a highlight. I felt so supported by my manager and other colleagues whom I worked and became friends with. I felt really valued and like I had something I could offer.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during your internship and how did you overcome them?
Unfortunately, a COVID-19 lockdown occurred during my internship. This meant that two months of my three-month internship were completed online, which, at times, made learning from others more difficult. I learned how valuable coming to the office was so we can learn from experienced engineers.
To overcome this, I learned to harness my communication skills so I could work well with my colleagues and clarify if I needed further information to understand context around tasks.
What’s one lesson you learned from your internship that you didn’t learn at university?
The material I learned from university was a great foundational basis of knowledge, but working as a design engineer was so different, as everything links to the real world. I learned a lot of technical engineering skills and essential CAD software while also developing relationships with clients.
What advice can you give to students and future interns?
Never be afraid to have a go at things and ask for help! Not knowing something isn’t a weakness but an opportunity to grow. People aren’t there to give you a grade like at university; they genuinely want to see you grow and develop.