Scoring an off-the-cuff internship

When Nancy Zhuang joined WIESoc, little did she know it would lead to global internship opportunities with engineering and consulting giant WSP.

An hour before I was offered an off-the-cuff internship, I was on my way to global engineering consulting giant WSP to promote the Industry Mentoring Program (IMP). As a representative of UNSW’s Women in Engineering Society (WIESoc), I was just praying that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.Nancy Zhuang

I got involved in WIESoc two years ago because I wanted to experience what UNSW had to offer outside of academia. I enjoyed my time as an Events Subcommittee Member as I was part of a tight knit community and made some great friends. When the year came to an end, I realised I wanted to give back and help other students have as rewarding of an experience as I had, so that’s why I was persuaded to become WIESoc’s IMP Director.

Being involved in IMP has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Although it meant waking up early for the weekly 8am meetings, I’ve been able to facilitate a dynamic environment where engineering students are given a unique opportunity to be paired with an industry mentor. During the program students can pick their mentor’s brains to understand what lies beyond, out there in the Wild Wild West (AKA industry). Running the 2018 IMP Opening Ceremony allowed me to interact with highly engaged mentors who were all keen to help a new generation of enthusiastic students. It made me feel very proud to be a part of WIESoc.

For my first meeting with WSP, I carefully prepared a pitch about how rewarding it would be for them to get involved with IMP, and to discuss whether they were interested in hosting the Closing Ceremony. As I eagerly shared my vision for the collaboration and how mutually beneficial it would be, the last thing I expected them to say was, “This sounds great, and by the way, are you looking for an internship?”

After an anticipatory dance of emailing and interviewing with people from diverse teams across the company, I started working for WSP in July in their Integrated Transport Planning team. Over the past two months, I’ve learnt so much and worked across a wide array of tasks and projects, such as the future development planning for Westmead. Excel and Outlook have been a major part of my life at WSP, however a larger part of this experience has been meeting colleagues and participating in all the fun team events - going to trivia nights, Friday night drinks and team lunches.

I’m also extremely fortunate that WSP is very flexible. When I expressed my desire to go on student exchange in the future, they offered me the chance to work at one of their global offices – something I would never have thought possible at my age.

My internship at WSP would never have happened if I hadn’t joined WIESoc, so my recommendation is: take full advantage of the opportunities available at UNSW. Join societies, go to networking events, and put yourself out there because you never know where the next opportunity may lie. But most importantly, don’t forget to have fun in the process! 

 

 

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