Brisbane mentoring program brings multidisciplinary professionals together

August 22, 2012

Kittelson & Associate’s Brisbane office happened upon the opportunity to participate in Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Career Mentor Scheme when an environmental engineering student applied for Kittelson’s summer internship program. Though the firm’s service areas did not fit her career interests, she did ask Zach Clark—a Senior Engineer at Kittelson—to become her mentor. Since then, additional Kittelson staff in Brisbane has volunteered to serve as mentors for QUT students, encouraging relationships that are benefiting both the experienced engineers and the fledgling professionals who seek their advice.

The QUT Career Mentor Scheme matches students with professionals to help guide the students’ transition to the workplace. In addition to requirements the students must meet during the year-long mentorship, the Program provides guidance in how both the mentor and mentee can forge an effective relationship and meet specific program objectives together.

Since February, Zach and his mentee have met regularly to discuss a broad range of professional development topics, from how to present well during job interviews and foster teamwork among colleagues to setting and achieving professional goals and making the most of networking opportunities.

“The first time I met with my mentee, we talked about what process she envisioned and how she works best. She’s a little less structured and that has worked out quite well for us,” he says. “We talk about goals and objectives, both short term and long term, and how to reach those. It’s worked out well because it’s been quite fluid.”

Zach notes that while he and his mentee are focusing their careers different fields within engineering, there are many commonalities. Their conversations explore the differences in working for a large firm versus a small one and a multidisciplinary firm versus a specialized company. The pair also discusses presentation skills, resume writing, and how to resolve personality conflicts with co-workers.

“What she struggles with, and I can definitely relate to this coming out of university, is that you feel you have a good handle on the more technical things and what you could really use some help with are the soft skills,” he says.

Zach adds that he benefits as much from the experience as his mentee does. It allows him to give back to the professional community and hone his mentoring skills so he can help other emerging professionals in the future. His experience with his mentee emphasizes the importance of professional development and sharing one’s knowledge with a younger generation of engineers and planners.

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