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Learning through experience is a sure way to promote interesting careers in the water industry and Citycare Water’s support for engineering internships fosters tomorrow’s workforce in this way.
Nick Odhiambo, a final-year engineering student from Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), joined the Auckland Citycare Water team as an intern over last summer and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“Citycare Water supported me and enabled my experience to be as wide as you can possibly imagine, and this will help me make a final, better informed decision on where I want to go in the future,” Nick says.
He has an interesting background, having chosen to emigrate to New Zealand with his family from Kenya after a career in the foreign service and time living in Zimbabwe, Belgium and Israel.
Nick originally qualified as a land surveyor but worked in international relations.
“After so many years, I chose to go back to school as a route to integrate and adapt my skills to the local market,” he says.
At MIT he transitioned from land surveying studies to civil engineering and developed an interest in water and wastewater management. He says it was an intriguing and complicated branch of the curriculum.
“The three months I had with Citycare Water was comparable to a full year sitting in class. I had the opportunity to touch on every aspect of water management in the diverse business,” Nick says.
“There are investigative and reactive components to everything – it is a truly interesting and passionate field of work and the perfect place to learn,” he says.
“Some jobs were complicated and demanding but despite the challenges – at the core – Citycare Water men and women love what they do.
“Every single person that I met was willing to teach me something, to take the time and be patient with me while sharing their knowledge. For that I am very grateful,” Nick says.
He found the culture at Citycare Water really positive with great diversity among his co-workers, a good work ethic, and lots of laughter.
“The diversity factor was really important to me. Compared with other players in the industry, Citycare Water has a very diverse workforce, and this is something that I find very attractive. With diversity comes better inclusivity, and I really felt part of the team,” he says.
Having interns was a successful new initiative for Citycare Water and it is noteworthy that Nick and another intern from Wellington both made the initial step to contact the company, Head of People and Capability Shauney O’Loughlin says.
Interns work well alongside Citycare Water’s graduate engineers, contract managers and specialist engineers as these positions compliment their studies, interests and career aspirations.
“Citycare benefits greatly from recruiting engineers as it is pool for future talent coming into the industry and they are tomorrow’s workforce,” she says.
“While the intern receives valuable hands-on industry experience, we gain fresh perspectives, new ideas and assistance with projects,” Shauney says.
“With there being a significant skills shortage in the water industry this is another opportunity for us to attract talent and showcase the industry,” she says.
For his future, Nick is interested in inflow and infiltration, the connection points between the wastewater and stormwater networks.
“I’m drawn to it because it’s not an exact science and requires one to be very patient. You have to apply all of your analytical skills, all of your knowledge to get to an answer,” he says.
And Nick’s advice to other students?
“Choose diverse internships – try and experience every aspect of the discipline before you make a choice to specialise.”
“Connect with all team members – you can learn from everyone.”
“Most importantly, don’t be ashamed to ask, persist towards reaching your goals, learn every day and remain humble.”
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