Updating Results

WSP Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Melissa Bong

All the math and science will help provide a foundation but you’re own problem-solving abilities and personal development is what will make you successful.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Sydney and attended both school and university in Kensington. While at UNSW, I was fortunate enough to partake in a six-month exchange at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. 

As WSP is a global business, I know there are various opportunities to work across the world. I’m hoping to work in the UK office at some point!

How did you get to your current job position?

I have been in the graduate program at WSP since January this year. I applied via the WSP online portal and went through the various rounds of online testing and interviews. 

In my second year of uni, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship in the defence sector at JEDS, Sydney. There I worked on structural analysis of sonar deployment devices and management/procurement of international projects. From this experience, I was connected to a carbon composites manufacturer, newly emerging in the defence sector. For the last two years of my degree, I worked at Carbonix in their operations and design engineering teams - developing, upgrading and manufacturing drones. I also completed my honours thesis on carbon composite propeller design under their guidance and sponsorship. 

Throughout university I was very active in the Engineering Student Society, organising various student networking and external sponsor events. Through this, I was exposed to WSP and its capabilities across the civil and mechanical space in Australia. I think that both my professional and co-curricular experience really helped me stand out in my application at WSP.

How did you choose your specialisation?

I was always interested in STEM - but wasn’t sure what I wanted to be. I decided on engineering and science as I knew that they would be great foundations to help me learn about what kind of jobs and opportunities existed. Throughout became more and more fascinated by the system complexity of both aerospace technologies and neuroscience. That same passion for understanding, breaking down and solving complex systems has not changed. The alternative path for me would be to work in the R&D or higher research realm - which is still definitely a possibility at WSP!

What was your interview process like?

WSP’s graduate hire process was a little different from the others. Apart from the standard initial application questions and psychometric questions, the interview process was very unique. As the first round of ‘interview’ applicants were invited to attend a networking night, promoting discussion between young professionals and higher executives. The objective of the night was to spark interest in any of the WSP employees, who would note what qualities you had and pass them on to the hiring team.  This unconventional method played very much to my interpersonal and communication skills. 

Following this, a one-on-one interview was conducted with the team executive, with questions such along the lines of ‘what do you intend on getting out of this program?’, ‘why do you think you would be a great fit?’, ‘what experiences do you have in solving difficult problems? Etc. The objective was to prove you were a resilient and adaptable worker who would fit in with the company values and team culture. 

What does your employer do?

WSP is a global professional services firm providing engineering, planning, environment, and infrastructure services. The major sectors that we service are urban development management, community, transportation, and other planned development sectors throughout Australia.

What are your areas of responsibility?

I am currently working across various projects in different lifecycle stages and in different roles. In the project management space, I am responsible for the progress and budget reporting, monitoring design progress and liaising with subcontractors. In the track engineering section, I liaise with Signalling, Drainage, Power, Overhead wiring, Road/Pavement, buildings etc and flag any potential design clashes, determine suitable design configurations, report and present.

Can you describe a typical workday?

A typical day will start at about 8.30 am. While in the graduate program our daily activities are quite dynamic and flexible.

What are the career prospects with your job?

There are two main branches to progress into - a more managerial (team/project/commercial management role) or technical (to become a technology executive or SME). The fluidity within the company allows for the transfer of skills and capabilities  across teams, meaning you could be a track engineer now, move into transport planning and modelling or event give 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes - of the three rail graduates hired in my cohort, our backgrounds range from construction, mechatronics to aerospace engineering. The company fosters sharing knowledge and learning on-the-job, meaning it's the individual's attitude and aptitude to learning that dictates how successful they may be. 

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

I love what I do so much that other careers seem equally as likely or unlikely. 

However, within the engineering sector, I might have remained in the aerospace industry, perhaps moving to management in the commercial or defence aviation world. Outside of the engineering world, I would have pursued a career in the medical field either in research or as a clinician. My key career driver is feeling purpose in my work.

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

I love the culture and nurturing environment at WSP. There is a strong focus on both professional and personal development as well as supporting their young professionals. In my time at WSP, I’ve worked on small design upgrades, large multi-firm design & build projects and even data analysis/tool development, I’ve been able to travel to rural sites and other WSP city offices. There is no limit to the opportunities to learn and develop!

In my specific role, I really enjoy the use of the digital application and the freedom to use (or develop) additional tools. My favourite aspect is the track design and 3D modelling of the rail corridor & infrastructure, inputting these into clash detection software and seeing the complex multidisciplinary project come to life. I also enjoy continually learning about the operational and functional need for the rail network, as well as its crucial contribution to the movement of people. It really makes you feel like every little thing you do makes a difference to the community!

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

The diversity and inherent complexity of the transport engineering industry is both a great opportunity and a limitation. It is not only design and engineering parameters that affect the success of a project, but other influences such as budgets, planning and various community stakeholders. As a new graduate in the industry, it can mean that when trying to deliver a solution for one problem, or delivering one design (for example the track alignment) There are so many interfacing disciplines and connections, it can feel like you’re always missing a piece of the puzzle. This can lead to slower times to complete tasks or weekend work but I am always reminded that it's fine to take my time and it's all part of the learning process. 

Across different projects, I’ll have varying levels of responsibility. The type of projects ie, tendering, concept/detailed design/ feasibility will also affect the working environments. For me personally, I thrive in higher stress/pressure situations. This has also taught me to regularly prompt myself to stop for a moment, check-in and flag if I’m feeling too overwhelmed.

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

  • If you have a question, ask it.  When you feel nervous about asking a particular question, start off with “for learning purposes” and let others know that you’re still figuring it all out.
  • University will teach you how to learn and adapt to the job, not exactly how to do it. All the math and science will help provide a foundation but you’re own problem-solving abilities and personal development is what will make you successful.
  • Life is like a sine wave, you’ll go through many peaks and troughs. Changing your mind or your feelings about your career (or anything) is very normal - you will have to learn how to take a step out and decide when to keep on going or give a different approach a go.