What's your job about?
One sentence: VicRoads works to ensure that people reach their destination safely while on Victorian roads.
Many people believe that VicRoads’ main profile is registration and licensing, however, this company is responsible for all the aspects of the arterial roads within Victoria including network management, development and operation. Not all roads are arterials, to simply say they are basically the big, wide roads which people use to commute. VicRoads is also responsible for developing documents about speeds, vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists), pedestrian lights and all sorts of interesting things.
As a grad, I have different responsibilities from setting up meetings to writing reports or doing some data analysis. I have been working closely with my supervisor on different projects. For instance, in the Eastern Region we looked after two main arterial road infrastructure projects and despite my GIS focused degree I could contribute to the projects. I joined the team when the consultation with the people and interested groups (like emergency services) had started. I was heavily involved in the “What happens after you decide that a road needs some roadworks like road widening.” We basically met locals who lived near the proposed works and made sure they are up to date and agree with what happens. Sometimes we had to buy parts of their land to minimise the impact of the works in the natural environment. I was working on many of the permit (eg. Works on waterways permit) so that this process is smooth and on time while following all the legal requirements (this was the point when I realized how interesting the job of lawyers could be).
What's your background?
I was born in Hungary and grew up in Budapest where I went to school. After my graduation, I started working as a researcher and teacher at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics until 2015 when I got a chance to study further in Australia. So I decided to jump into the unknown and moved to the other side of the planet without actually knowing anybody here. Saying goodbye to my parents at the airport to move 36 hours of travel away has been one of the hardest decisions I made (we have all become Skype experts ever since).
After graduating from RMIT I started looking for jobs. Despite having academic experience I was looking for a job which had a very strong practical focus and the VicRoads graduate position caught my eyes. VicRoads made an orientation day for all the applicants and they talked about their company culture and Care-Share-Dare. All the employees were nice, they were smiling and genuinely interested in the applicants. When I got home at the end of this day I jumped on the internet and started reading about the company as I really wanted to work with those people and in such an environment. The application process took around 5 months and had many filters including group interviews and online personality tests.
I never forget the moment when Kate called me on a rainy afternoon to tell me that I actually got an offer. This conversation happened in August 2017 and I joined the organisation in January 2018. Kate has become my first manager and my role model later on.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
This is an interesting question as I believe that with determination and persistence, we can become whomever we want to be so the short answer is definitely yes.
To do my job I think the most important skill is being logical and keep focused on explaining and exploring “why”. When we had the meetings with the locals we had to explain “why we need the improvement works?”, “why are we doing that particular job”, like shoulder widening instead of an overtaking lane, “why did we choose that particular location”, etc. When it came to actually writing an internal report, I had to cover other types of why’s focusing on a more technical perspective. So many why’s, from different perspectives, all of which are part of the same project and need to be answered.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
This is a very long list but I like the different kinds of meetings and the preparation for them the most. There are days when I am turning into an event planner organising a community meeting and ensuring that everything is ready from the maps showing the improvement works to the catering. On other days we are meeting stakeholders. The most memorable one was when we met a highway patrol sergeant and he drove us to the site where we showed him the proposed works extent to reduce crashes. It was such a cool thing to hear that both the community and stakeholders agreed with the improvement works as it meant that we did our planning job well.
What are the limitations of your job?
The biggest limitation was accepting that there is no easy job when it comes to road related works. Once I start working on a project, I have to be ready that unexpected things can happen (e.g. the proposed works site might be a habitat for the giant Gippsland earthworm). So I have to ensure that I do follow-ups with the appropriate authorities which could mean that I occasionally have to work on weekends. I also cannot freak out when I see such creatures during a site visit and I always have to follow the right safety procedure not to harm them or myself.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
All of these will sound quite trivial, but many people are afraid to act on them, please don’t be afraid.