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Alumni Experiences – Juliet

Juliet is a Participant in our John Holland Pathway Program. Here’s a snapshot of her experience.

Juliet Ngbeken | Bachelor of Civil Engineering, University of Benin, Nigeria; Masters in Offshore Technology (Subsea and Marine Technology), University of Stavanger, Norway | Quality Coordinator John Holland

Juliet came to Australia having heard that the civil engineering sector was booming. She had an impressive list of qualifications to her name, having studied a Masters in Offshore Technology at the University of Stavanger in Norway. While completing her Masters she had also worked as a Civil Engineer in the railway industry with Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic.

When she arrived in Australia, she applied for entry-level engineering positions with a number of companies. Some of her applications led to an interview. But at each interview she attended, the same question would be asked: “do you have local experience?”

“I found this a bit frustrating because I was convinced that I had the required skills, knowledge, expertise and attitude for the roles.”

After what she describes as ‘tons of rejections’, she worked as a Disability Support Worker in order to pay the bills before learning of the John Holland Pathway Program through a family member. Her family member had been supported by Jesuit Social Service into employment and suggested Juliet should make contact.

When she got the call telling her that she was one of the 23 candidates accepted to join the program, she was elated. “I felt so fortunate to have made it onto the program, but I was really nervous about what to expect from my colleagues and my Manager”. Turns out Juliet had nothing to be concerned about as her colleagues and Manager were very welcoming, supportive and explained in detail what the role entailed and what was expected from her. “I hadn’t worked in such a supportive and collaborative environment before. It was a big culture shock for me. Back home in Nigeria, the only time I would engage with my manager would be to report on the tasks I had completed related to a specific project”.

On the program Juliet worked on the West Gate Tunnel project as a Quality Coordinator and since completing the program, she has moved to a role as a site Quality Coordinator working on the expansion of the Westgate Freeway for the Westgate Tunnel Project. Juliet describes herself as the “glue” between the clients and the engineers in the construction team and regularly visits sites to conduct surveillance and ensure construction issues are closed out.

Juliet has enjoyed “…every second of this opportunity. My communication skills have improved tremendously and I learned so much about the Australian workplace culture at the Participant Preparation Training that was run by Jesuit Social Services. It really helped settle my nerves before I started with my team”. Juliet shared that she “… knew very little about ‘Quality’ and the requirements for a civil engineer in terms of structures and civil works as they are vastly different from Nigeria. I’m a quick leaner and I’ve been able to adapt to my new work environment. I’m really hoping to excel in my role in ‘Quality’”.

Juliet enjoys the quality of life here in Australia and now feels settled enough to call Australia home. “I feel so fortunate to have been part of this program, it has been life changing going from one moment working in disability to working in my field, gaining experience, striving hard to prove myself and being appreciated. I would describe it as being a beautiful and stunning experience!”

If your organisation is interested in finding out how to develop your own program, please contact info@corporatediversity.org.au or phone the Corporate Diversity Partnerships team on (03) 9421 7600.