What’s your name? What did you study? When did you graduate?
My name is George Pass. I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.), majoring in Renewable Energy Systems and Mechanics and Material Systems, graduating in December 2018.
Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I was born and raised in Canberra, so I’m one of the few locals to undertake the grad program at CER (most graduates move from interstate). A musician at heart, I’ve completed a double diploma in music production and performance, and have been involved in the local music scene for over a decade. Highlights of my musical experiences included playing on stage with Clare Bowditch for her winter secrets tour and playing an open mic at one of Budapest’s most famous ruin bars, Szimpla Kert. While music continues to play an important role in my life, there came a point that I realized the pay-off was vastly disproportionate to the hours put in unless you happen to be one of the lucky few. I then decided to try my hand at an engineering degree and have found yet another passion. CER has given me an opportunity to work in an area I’m passionate about.
Can you describe a typical workday?
As there are many varied teams and types of work in the agency a typical workday will look very different depending on the team. In my current role, a typical workday may involve a few meetings, some data analysis, review and summary of relevant articles and papers to keep abreast of any developments in the renewable energy sector, allowing us to provide insights to senior management, and working on various project-based tasks. Interspersed throughout the team-specific work is the graduate project, which usually requires around 4-8 hours of input per week, depending on the stage of the project.
Suppose a student was considering CER’s Graduate Program. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills that would be beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
A knowledge of the carbon cycle, climate science, and renewable energy are all valuable (though not essential to all work areas). As such, I’d recommend studying engineering (ideally renewable energy systems) and environmental science. As a regulator, there are also many legal considerations, so a law degree would not go astray. Working with spreadsheets and documents is fairly essential so any work experience in an office job would set you up well to contend with the CER’s information systems and documentation practices. Brief writing and communication skills would also be beneficial but will be actively developed on the job, and there is also a fair amount of formal training provided in this area.
What do you love most about your job? What kind of task do you enjoy doing the most?
Working in an area that I’m passionate about gives the day to day meaning. Knowing that I’m literally working towards (albeit in very small steps) making the world a better place, and working alongside like-minded colleagues makes for a rewarding job.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
Had I not chosen to work at CER, I would likely be a practising engineer, working either in civil and structural engineering or renewable energy systems design. Either that or I would have embarked on a research career, working on improvements to transition to a greener energy sector.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?