GMW is helping university students add all-important practical experience to their resumes via its Kickstart summer internship.
Now in its third year, Kickstart provides meaningful, paid work experience to students during their annual break from studies – allowing them to apply skills learned in lecture halls to real-life projects.
The aim is to help students “kick-start” their careers while GMW looks to attract the leaders of tomorrow.
This year, GMW has employed eight young people for up to 12 weeks in roles ranging from data analysis to getting their hands dirty repairing infrastructure in the field.
For first-year Monash University Commerce and Engineering student Christie Eldridge, the program has been an eye-opener since her start at GMW in December.
“My first job was at Macca’s which was good,” Christie, 19, said.
“But now I’m researching the costs and specifications of portable flow meters and what they can do for GMW in measuring the rate of flow in our channels.
“I’ve been able to apply, as much as I can, my new engineering and analysis skills.”
For Ryan Alegre, who completed a pre-apprenticeship in Electrical Technology, working at GMW is a far cry from his last year, when he was installing security cameras in Melbourne homes.
He said the sophistication of industrial electrical maintenance at GMW has been a steep but fascinating learning curve.
“It’s been operational and very hands-on at lakes and pumping stations where the electrical aspect of the business is very big,” Ryan, 21, said.
“The solar panels you see along the channels – the amount of technology behind them is really amazing.”
Joe Shelton has become a familiar face at GMW while completing two years of study towards degrees in Civil Engineering and Business at La Trobe University.
He is currently on his second Kickstart secondment and also found work last year with one of GMW’s winter construction teams.
“All the bookwork is with La Trobe at Bendigo and all my practical experience is here,” Joe, 21, said.
“The two are coming together for me - for example my studies in fluid mechanics are helping me understand how GMW manages channel erosion and weed infestation.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in engineering but now I want to work in the water industry – it’s just so diverse.”
Joe, Ryan and Christie all come from Shepparton, so they had a general idea of GMW’s role in managing water. This was particularly the case for Joe, who grew up on a dairy farm in Kialla.
However all say the scale and complexity of managing, storing and delivering water – from niche operations like providing the means for snow-making at Mt Buller to servicing Australia’s largest irrigation district - continues to impress.
For Brodi Coghlan, it’s been nothing short of a revelation.
“Coming from Melbourne, water just appears from the tap,” she said.
“I remember when we had water restrictions but I was really removed from the millennium drought.
“Working here you get a sense of how precious a resource water really is. You see the channels everywhere for irrigation and then there’s the urban use and environmental need - water is in your face, for lack of a better word.”
“Here” for Brodi is working in customer operations at GMW’s Tatura office, where she is applying her geology and chemistry studies at Monash University to finding the most efficient means of capturing and redirecting groundwater.
“Doing this sort of work feels really meaningful,” Brodi, 23, said.
“Water is only going to become more important as the effects of climate change increase.
“But on a personal note, my time at GMW will make such a difference to my CV.”
Christie Eldridge agrees Kickstart has been an ideal way to spend her summer break.
“It’s great to get a pay cheque and it’s really good work experience – there are so many bonuses.”