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  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Hayley Whitehead

The Jetstar Graduate Program is a generalist program. You are rotated into various teams doing various roles on a whole range of topics within the airline industry.

What's your name and job title? 

Hayley Whitehead – Jetstar Group engineering support.

What did you study? When did you graduate? 

A Bachelor of Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronic Engineering (Honours) – 2016.

Where did you grow up? Can you talk us through your journey into this industry? 

I attended high school in Melbourne, taking psychology, maths methods, studio art photography, Japanese, English literature and physics for VCE. Unsure about what I wanted to do at university, I chose subjects I enjoyed. During this time, I worked casually at a bookstore, gaining valuable customer service skills and knowledge. By the time I graduated, I was still unsure about what I wanted to do, however, I had been intrigued by international exchange programs (having attended school for three months during year 10 in Osaka, Japan). I got accepted into a year-long exchange program to Turku, Finland where I attended a local school (even though I had completed VCE!) and was immersed into Finnish culture. This was an eye-opening experience and helped me grow my understanding of the world and myself.
Returning to Melbourne, I was accepted into Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronic Engineering at RMIT. This course appealed to me because it described how you would contribute to future technology: building robots that would enhance human lives. I remember thinking ‘I want to build robots! I could do that!’, and that was that.

During my third year of studies, I managed to get a summer internship with Boeing Aerostructures Australia where I was first exposed to high tech manufacturing and the aerospace industry.

Midway through my final year, I was accepted into an RMIT international exchange program (RIIERP) where I worked with an automotive drivetrain research and development company for a year in Germany.  There I learnt a lot about cars, testing and new innovative technology. I also was able to easily travel and tour around Europe (which was unforgettable – so much to see!).  Returning from Germany, I finished my final half-year and graduated at the end of 2016. A friend from my time in Germany knew someone who knew someone, who reached out to me about getting involved in a project he was running. It was a competition run by the aerospace manufacturer SpaceX to develop a new form of transport – the Hyperloop. Getting to fly our pod out to SpaceX headquarters and meet the other teams from all over the world was an incredible experience. The amount of innovation and creative solutions all made by the incredible students was inspiring.

After this project, I began searching for a job whilst working casually at the bookshop. I got work with Metro Trains Melbourne where I worked as a technical lead in Train Infrastructure. This time at Metro gave me a huge appreciation to the difficulties that faces rail today and grew a fascination with trains that surprised me. We got to go out and do inspections on the lines, and travel around the network at night on trains decked out in high tech sensors to spot abnormalities that could lead to issues. Seriously, our train network here in Melbourne is pretty interesting.

How did you get to your current job position?
A friend reached out and told me about the Jetstar Graduate Program, so I applied. I was accepted and began working here at the Collingwood office in February 2018.

How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

The Jetstar Graduate Program is a generalist program. You are rotated into various teams doing various roles on a whole range of topics within the airline industry. The graduates come from a diverse background: multiple engineering fields, finance, business, aviation management, marketing, people management etc!

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

Honestly, I can’t remember what kind of interview questions were asked. I recall the assessment centre being the least stressful and most comfortable assessment centre I attended whilst searching for a graduate position. Everyone was very friendly and the 2016 and 2017 graduates at the time were there to chat and answer questions – it wasn’t intimidating.

There was a period with one-on-one discussion, more interview style, and we talked about how I dealt with problem-solving and difficult situations. We also talked about topics outside of work on a more personal level.

What does your employer do?

Jetstar is a low-cost carrier that aims to offer low airfares to make flight accessible to more people, more often.

What are your areas of responsibility?

Currently, in the Engineering team, we work across a range of things. Lately, I’ve been working on bringing new aircraft into the fleet and all that entails, as well as a project to install some additional cockpit technology.

Can you describe a typical workday? What was the last thing you worked on?

I wouldn’t say there’s a ‘typical’ workday as anything can happen, and reprioritization happens often. 

I like to come in early – to avoid the packed trains. I get a cup of tea and read any new emails and check my calendar to make sure I’m prepared for any meetings coming. I tend to have a quick meeting with my manager in the morning to go over any complications/issues or areas where I need clarification. The day can go anywhere from here: meetings, workshops, emails, discussions, analysis.

What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here? 

Ideally, the program will lead to a role within Jetstar. The program gives you a broad understanding of how the business works and helps build a strong network of connections.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

If I wasn’t accepted into the Jetstar Graduate Program, I think I would be in another graduate position, ideally within the transport of some kind. 

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most? 

I love going out to the airport and getting on a plane. It always feels special even if you’re not actually going somewhere. Getting to sit during a flight in the jumpseat is pretty special too – and a great opportunity to see the pilots in action.

Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Are stress levels high?

In my experience, the responsibility that you bear is up to you. If you want to get the most out of your time at Jetstar, take on as much as you can handle responsibly. Stress can be raised when there are important deadlines or when you’re juggling too many things at once.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  • Networking is more important than you probably think. Meeting and connecting with people takes practice for some, so make developing social skills a priority.
  • Don’t underestimate yourself or your capacity. Everyone was a student once.
  • If you don’t know or don’t understand, be open about it and ask questions. Getting clarification about something shows maturity.