Robert Goedecke

Your journey from Year 12 to where you are now:

My journey began as an aspirational engineering student wanting to build and design bridges. I remember how much fun the first week was when we worked as a team to support a container of water using a light weight structure and it really brought home the key message that engineering is fundamentally about problem solving.

My five years at Adelaide took me on a journey to discover my values and obtain an appreciation for the way society functions and my role as an engineering student in making a difference. I was able to support my technical development with a lot of professional development activities and have maintained this level of initiative since entering the workforce three years ago. I developed a broad range of contacts throughout my studies which I will be grateful for in the future as our relationships will strengthen as our responsibilities start to increase.

I am now working in the water industry and have found a role that allows me to provide tangible benefits to the community to which I am a part of. My three years of experience post-graduation has taught me a lot about the real world and has become the gateway to my career opening up. I am now realising my potential as a capable engineer, with the ability to inspire change, and would not have achieved this if it wasn't for the generous support provided by university staff and colleagues along the way. The future for me is very exciting and I will continue to thrive on any opportunities for progression which come my way.

Any internships or work placements during your studies?

I worked for twelve weeks as an Undergraduate Geotechnical Engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP-PB) at the end of my third year of studies. This had been obtained uniquely due to my ability to network with industry personnel and source employment on the spot. My work experience introduced me to the day to day business challenges and being able to manage your day and plan your workload.

Working as a consultant brought to life the importance of building positive relationships within the industry and maintaining a strong reputation as these will allow you to obtain business and remain employable. Communication within the workplace was a key highlight as it brought to life the importance of working together in teams while sharing knowledge across the business. It also opened me up to the other possible directions I could take my career, through the diverse range of business opportunities provided by a global consulting firm.

What about 'outside the classroom' ... what activities did you take part in outside of classes during your time at UoA?

The moment I walked into the university environment, I made a commitment to developing myself with as much hands on experience as possible.

I obtained employment in many diverse fields ranging from Army Reserves to customer service to coaching and teaching. I pushed myself actively as a volunteer to develop my networks at an early age and found opportunities to get involved with different societies and volunteer groups both internal and external to the university. Being a committed member of Engineers Australia allowed me to remain a step ahead in my career and to make the most of the Professional Development services available at the time.

Each of these opportunities has provided me with a unique range of skill sets and has developed my social skills to enable better communication and coordination within the team environment. I was able to use these examples throughout my search for employment as a reflection of my positive attitude on life and my commitment to developing myself as a junior engineer, by not just focusing on the technical elements. By developing my ability to have interpersonal relationships, I was able to approach interviews in a more friendly manner and demonstrate my ability to work within any given team consisting of a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. This ability has become crucial for my development as I now work in an environment where the ability to connect with people outside of the engineering industry is viewed favourably.

When thinking about future employment, what would be your "Top-3-Tips" for a new student about to embark on their University studies?

1) Gain as much practical experience as you can - the moment you walk into your industry you might be faced with many days in front of a computer screen. The practical aspects will compliment your professional development post-university rather well.
2) Develop a sound network - build relationships with your lecturers as well as staff and peers. Attend careers events and talk to professionals to find more about the industry you are planning to work in. This will place you in a great position for the rest of your career.
3) Take a positive (can-do) approach to university - each tutorial, exam, project is designed to test your abilities to interpret a question or comment and apply critical thinking to arrive at your destination. Make the most of the opportunity to learn and don't be afraid to ask questions of your lecturers (even in front of the class).

What are your future career aspirations?

I would like to gain international experience and work in an environment where my technical skill sets can be accelerated. I would also like to spend some time working in developing countries to apply the skills I have developed within the water industry for the benefit of society. I will approach my future fairly open-ended but will look to ensure that I remain in a role where I can make a positive contribution to those around me.

Eventually I see myself moving away from the technical field to a role which is more personal and provides me with day to day feedback. I would also like to go back to university and study at some point for a Masters.

My five years at Adelaide took me on a journey to discover my values and obtain an appreciation for the way society functions and my role as an engineering student in making a difference.
Gain as much practical experience as you can - the moment you walk into your industry you might be faced with many days in front of a computer screen. The practical aspects will compliment your professional development post-university rather well.

Graduate profiles

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Bachelor of Science (Molecular and Drug Design) with Honours in Chemistry
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Smart Skills Inspirator, Questacon Smart Skills Initiative

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