Tips for getting a foot in the door

For engineering student Michelle Howie, pursuing engineering was not something she imagined herself doing in school.

“I didn’t take any science subjects or specialist maths in high school, and always dismissed engineering as a boring, stale career. After my gap year, I listened to what everyone told me they could imagine me studying, and decided to do the opposite. I always had a knack for maths and design I wanted to try something that was out of the norm and would make me stand out,” says Michelle.

Since commencing study with UniSA, Michelle has been successful in securing a New Colombo Plan Scholarship where she will be recognised as the inaugural Korean fellow.

“This is a new initiative from the Australian Government to promote Australia’s partnership with the Indo-Pacific region by funding university students to study and work in the region. On a full scholarship, I will study a semester in South Korea at a top technological university, following a month of intensive language training in country. I will then arrange an internship with a Korean electronics engineering company,” says Michelle.

Michelle is not alone in knowing the value of working hard to reach success. University of South Australia graduate Emilio De Stefano also knows the key to his well-earned success is hard work. A graduate of the Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Mechatronic Engineering), Bachelor of Management double degree, and the Master of Engineering (Military Systems Integration), Emilio’s diligence throughout his study saw him granted five University merit awards.

Emilio chose to undertake a double degree due a mix of his passion for engineering and desire to be a leader

“Engineering was important to me, I enjoy tinkering with electronics and learning how things work. Management was also important as I always knew I wanted to lead people.”

However it’s not only hard work that Emilio attributes to his success; he also knows that networking and communication skills have been crucial.

“Good grades help, but having the soft skills such as good communication skills, people management skills and the ability to work well in a team are essential.”

Seeing the value of networking in his undergraduate study, Emilio became a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

“Joining the IET was a fantastic opportunity to network with other professionals from all disciplines and seniority levels in engineering. It also gave me the opportunity to travel to Glasgow, Scotland to attend a Young Professionals Volunteers Conference, allowing me to network with professionals from around the world.”

During his engineering undergraduate studies, Emilio had the opportunity to undertake two three-month blocks of work experience for Tenix Defence.

“This experience was extremely valuable. I could finally apply the skills I had learnt during my studies to real world applications. This not only strengthened my desire to continue with my studies but also verified that a career in defence was where I wanted to begin my career.”

Since graduating Emilio has seen great success in his career. Now employed as a general manager at Smart Fabrication, Emilio says he is constantly rewarded by the work he achieves.

“I’m always learning something new and expanding my network. No two days are ever the same. I manage and oversee people, strategy, finances, infrastructure, clients, suppliers, quality, production and more, so there’s always something keeping me busy.”

Emilio also finds the opportunities presented to him through his work to be very rewarding.

“I get to meet so many interesting people, see some amazing things and have rare opportunities such as studying at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in the USA.”

This opportunity was made possible through the Industry Leaders Fund, which Emilio says is “a fantastic privately funded grants program which offers grants to South Australians showing leadership potential who want to help create economic prosperity for South Australia.”

UniSA ranks in the top six engineering institutions in Australia and was the only university in South Australia in the 2014-15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings for Engineering and Technology. Find out more about studying engineering at UniSA

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