My name is Matthew White and I’m a CQUni third year engineering student studying the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Diploma of Professional Practice (Co-op Engineering) majoring in electrical engineering.
The program provides access to 48 weeks of paid work and this year I went out into the workforce for my first official 24 week Co-op placement at Ergon Energy as a Reporting Analyst in Asset Governance Reporting. I have also been privileged to work previously with Energex in Demand Management and have just returned to Ergon on an extended contract to continue my work for a few months over Christmas.
Why this program?
I love Rockhampton and it’s a privilege for me to study locally. I chose electrical engineering because it pays well and gives me the chance to use interesting maths and physics in the day to day tasks of my job. I moved into the Co-op program for the work opportunities during study, which makes the journey far more enjoyable. I love working in engineering and it’s been a great opportunity to learn how the things we study line up with reality. (And getting paid is nice too!)
What does a reporting analyst do?
In my role it is useful to be an electrical engineer to understand the reasoning behind what we are doing and involve engineering principles in validation and decision making. I work with a team of IT specialists to find information about the current state of over one million Ergon assets including power poles, transformers and circuit breakers spread across Queensland. Most days consist of finding the information people need such as details on what equipment is broken and how it was damaged, getting it to people in a format that makes sense, automating a report of it and meeting with the report users to work out what meets their needs.
What projects am I involved with?
Ergon is the result of a number of smaller power distributors being merged some years ago. As a result there have been a series of restructures and merging of information systems and standards. My projects work around checking the rules around these changes and meeting with the various specialists in different areas of the business to find out why errors are occurring such as mislabelled damage records. The exciting part of the work is finding the disagreements between elements of the business and matching them with solutions that standardise the work for the whole organisation.
What worked for me to secure placement?
- Talking to people was invaluable. I recommend going to Engineers Australia and Uni events, getting involved in a Uni first year project that involves someone who works somewhere you’d like to be (and be nice to the people you meet). Walking into an interview with someone you already know is comforting when you’re struggling with nerves.
- Get your resume ready now. NOW. In first year. Or before. You don’t have time to write one when you need it. It’s worth taking a draft in to the specialists at Uni to have a chat about it as well (CQUni Careers can help with this).
- Once you’re on placement, if you want more work ask about it early. It takes time to organise.
What’s in the future?
It definitely involves electrical engineering. I love this kind of work so a Co-op placement has been a great way to open up a road into the power industry. It has however opened up other opportunities as well. I’m hoping to get more work experience elsewhere to see what kind of roles I prefer before I graduate, and the Co-op program is an excellent way to do that.