Local students kick-start their careers

Thursday 21 February, 2019

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) is helping local post-secondary students kick-start their careers with summer work experience.

Now in its fifth year, the Kick Start program provide students with practical experience and helps to keep skills and expertise in the region.

Budding engineer Trent McNamara, environmental science student Jordan Nicholson and aspiring IT expert Xavier Kerrins are kick-starting their careers with summer work placements at Goulburn-Murray Water.

GMW’s Kick Start program provides paid summer work experience in a diverse range of careers for students undertaking post-secondary studies. The program fosters talent in the region, helping students gain valuable skills and industry connections.

Trent, Jordan and Xavier are among seven students now completing this year’s Kick Start intake and all have found the transition from the classroom to the workplace an eye-opener.

The day Xavier was interviewed, the microwave link to one of GMW’s regional offices had been struck by lightning – bringing phones, computers and work to a grinding halt.

“Working on the IT Help Desk, it’s real and it affects people,” he said.

“In uni you might write a paper but here it’s about fixing real problems and that makes me feel I’m achieving more.”

Xavier, 20 of Tatura, said the summer placement at GMW has helped him steer his electrical engineering studies at Swinburne University toward a career in computer technology.

“I’ve been building computers for about six years – I’m the go-to person for friends and family who need help with technology at home.

“Now I’m working with some masterminds here at GMW who are really helpful and I’m the one who is learning so much.”

Jordan, 21 of Cohuna, has had his share of “real world” experiences during his placement with GMW’s Water Quality team.

“At uni everything’s set up in your experiments – in my five weeks here I’ve been in the field at drains, channels and streams testing for blue-green algae and salinity,” he said.

“I’ve been made to feel at home with the team, my help has been welcomed and I feel my learning is actually making an impact.”

Jordan, now entering his fourth year in environmental science at Monash University, said his five weeks at GMW had given him a great opportunity to put his studies to practical use.

Having grown up in Cohuna, Jordan was familiar with the irrigation network but said he had no idea GMW’s water management responsibilities extended to drainage, monitoring bores, rivers and lakes.

Trent, studying engineering at La Trobe University, has swapped his civvies for a high-vis vest and hard hat.

 “I’ve done summer work but this is the first time I’ve been able to get experience in what I want to do, civil engineering and project management – and this is a big project!”

Trent is assigned with the Connections Project, the $2 billion modernisation of irrigation infrastructure across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

“The level of responsibility I’ve been given is awesome and it’s so good to know you’re really helping out and making a difference,” he said.

Trent, 22 of Mooroopna, said the focus on efficiency and precise planning had been his greatest learning experience.

“Mistakes cost money and the team is very conscious of that,” he said. “You also want the structures you build to last a lifetime so getting it right is so important.”

GMW’s Kick Start program is now in its fifth year, providing local students with practical experience and helping to keep skills and expertise in the region.