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Sydney Water

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Ryan Powter

Those that seek out a broader experience and are willing to learn new or different skills to what they had expected, tend to provide and draw the most value later.

What's your employer doing and what are your areas of responsibility?

I assist the infrastructure development team in ensuring our customers' essential services are not affected by future growth throughout Sydney. A typical day might include: identifying unknown assets found in the ground during Paramatta light rail works; reviewing designs for new developments, and providing requirements that need to be met prior to a building; attending site and stakeholder meetings from a range of government and non-government organisations; and assisting team members with various project work, such as process improvement and process review.

During my first placement, I would attend a range of environmental incidents, these included wastewater overflows, sedimentation issues, chemical spills. This provided a large range of experiences with stakeholders such as Councils, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and customers.

Does a teenager understand what you are doing?

The Sydney Water graduate program provides a broad range of experiences, often tailored to what you desire in your professional development. This allows you to lean into areas or a career path that you choose (even if it doesn’t relate to your degree). Sydney Water makes a large investment in the development of its graduates, with multiple training days and extra training available to those that need or would like to upskill.

What's your background? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sydney, mainly in Maroubra. The most important stages of my life would include graduating university with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and landing a role in Sydney Water’s graduate program. Other notable stages would include travelling abroad, representing my state playing rugby and working for a well-known tech start-up for a year.

How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you been doing it already?

Prior to graduating from university, I took a career preparation unit that fine-tuned my CV and job interview skills. I found this very helpful when applying for roles throughout the industry (often a very daunting task). I applied for the Sydney Water graduate program via its careers website, the process was multi-staged including a video interview and assessment.

I have now been working for Sydney Water for a year and a half, and have gained experience in two completely different sections of the business.

Suppose someone wants to do the same job as you do, would that be also possible with a different background?

Yes, and no, depending on your background there is a large variety of placements to choose from in your second year on the program. I, for example, have chosen placement in my second year that does not relate to my degree, however, the skills learnt throughout my first year and university allows me to provide value to this team.

I think it’s important to keep an open mind and be flexible with your career goals. Those that seek out a broader experience and are willing to learn new or different skills to what they had expected, tend to provide and draw the most value later.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love the people and culture at Sydney Water, graduates are treated extremely well by everyone, I have rarely come across someone not willing to explain or take time to teach me something, this has been important to me because this stage of my career is all about learning.

The support network for graduates is massive, the great thing about the program is you frequently interact with the other graduates from your year. I found these relationships took away a lot of the stress and anxiety of starting a new role, as well as providing a network of people that are at the same stage in their career as you.

What are the limitations of your job?

The biggest limitation I found is travel. Sydney Water’s reach spans as far west as the Blue Mountains, as far north as Palm Beach and as south as Gerringong. There are two main offices, one in Parramatta and one in Potts Hill. Most placements operate out of these two centralised locations (apart from treatment plants), so you must be willing to see a lot of Sydney.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

3 pieces of advice I’d give my student self,

  • Don’t stress, back yourself.
  • People skills are key, those that know how to collaborate with colleagues and work towards a common goal are sought after.
  • Having a good understanding of relevant or new technology is a good way for you to provide value.