Laura Pan proved that when it comes to getting industry experience while studying, first year students are never too young to get their foot in the door.
Quality Assurance Engineer at Wood Group PSN
One of the biggest challenges I have found in my career is almost never the work at hand, but more so dealing with different personalities.
Laura Pan is from Malaysia and she graduated from Bachelor of Science (Food Technology and Nutrition)/Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from RMIT in 2011. She currently works for Wood Group PSN as Quality Engineer.
“In Year 12, I told my Chemistry teacher that I aspired to work in food manufacturing as I had been inspired by Willy Wonka. But he believed that being an Engineer could bring more opportunities in the manufacturing industry. I became indecisive so I attended various University Open Days and discovered that RMIT offered both as a double degree. Instantly I was sold by the idea of not having to choose.
“In my first year at RMIT, I was invited by a senior to a talk hosted by the Australian Food Engineering Association (AFEA), which was one of the pivot points in my career as the speakers encouraged gaining work experience as soon as we can. They said that we’re never too young to get our feet through the door. By the start of second year, I began my first part-time job as a student engineer at Vipac Engineers & Scientists, at a testing lab conducting Quality Control of consumer bathroom products.
“When I graduated, I applied to various companies as part of their graduate program. Eventually I was offered a mid-level position as a contractor to Melbourne Water. My role was a HACCP Coordinator/Process Engineer, and the reason they had hired me despite my age and lack of experience was purely because of the qualifications I had. They were after someone who had a background in both food science and chemical engineering to fully satisfy the requirements of this role.
“When my contract ended, I sought after a more challenging role and now I work as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Wood Group PSN.
“I went from waste water to oil and gas because I wanted to explore other opportunities. Although my passion still lies in food manufacturing and water treatment, I feel that it is necessary to gain experience that will benefit my career in the future.
“This job is extremely challenging and I enjoy that a lot, it started off with a big learning curve as I did not know much about oil and gas. I also enjoy working with a diverse team of people who have taught me a lot, not just to improve in my career but to mature into a woman I am proud of today.
“Start early. It is never too early to start your career whether it is at a restaurant waiting tables or behind the bar serving drinks. Work experience of any kind will allow you to practice proper time management but also dealing with different people in all sorts of situations. One of the biggest challenges I have found in my career is almost never the work at hand, but more so dealing with different personalities and how to engage with people on various levels."