First of all I would like to thank the team of Caminahora for this initiative and for inspiring and supporting young engineers.
My name is Debora and I come from Italy where I got my bachelor and master’s degree of Civil Engineering. I always loved traveling and learning, in fact as soon as I had the possibility I tried to match my love for traveling with my love for engineering. The first time that I could actually do this was during my master’s degree at the University of Bologna where I got the chance to study my second year abroad, at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. I couldn’t let this opportunity go, so I left everything in Italy and with a basic knowledge of Spanish language, I started my experience in Valencia. I ended up staying there also for the final master thesis. I performed my research on progressive collapse, at the ICITECH, collaborating with some of the best professionals in Europe. I enjoyed so much the environment, the possibility to work with so many different people and the dynamicity of an international team, that I decided I would have never accepted to work in anything less challenging and motivating than that. For this reason, right after the presentation of my thesis, I decided to leave Europe. I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted to do it in a big, competitive and completely foreign context. I bought a one way ticket to Australia.
On the 25th of May 2017 I landed in Melbourne. As everyone knows, the beginning is always hard. I came from years of Uni, I didn’t have much savings and I had never lived so far away from home. For the first time in my life I felt alone. But also free. And independent. And ready to give my best and conquer my fears. I started working as Au Pair and then also as a waitress, to save money and learn more about Australian Culture. I started sending resume to every construction company in Australia, willing to move anywhere in the country to gain experience and prove to myself and the world that I could make it. For the first five months, I had no luck at all. Just rejections and words of discouragement: “you will never make it, the market is too tight even for Aussies” – “you’re too skilled for this”- “you’re not skilled enough for that” – “you don’t have any experience”. Everything true, don’t get me wrong, but not enough to stop me.
During these months, while losing my hopes, I grew an interest for finance and business and I started considering the possibility of enrolling in a business school to learn the basics of marketing, finance and project managing. While considering the alternative I got a call where I got asked to go for an interview for a position as graduate surveyor. Not my targeted job but at least a first step in the construction industry. I worked with GPS and total stations for 8 months.
During this time, I completely lost my hopes to find a job as structural engineer so I stopped my research. I decided to enroll in the business course instead, learning how to start and grow my own business. During one of the classes, the professor came up with a quote that definitely changed my life: “a quitter never win and a winner never quit”. In that moment I knew I had to work harder to find my way and obtain the position I really wanted. So I started writing again to directors, builders and senior engineers. After early mornings and late nights sending emails and editing resume and cover letters, I got my luck and I eventually got an interview with my current boss. The hard work paid back, and I obtained my position as graduate structural engineer.
I am keeping studying business and project managing. I am planning to start my own business (related to clothing) before June 2019. That will be my side hustle, and I love it. It’s hard. It’s challenging. It’s exhausting. But this is the beauty of it. Feeling always like I can do better. Feeling like I have a lot to learn. And knowing that every time I fail, it will be a good opportunity to learn. This is what keeps me alive. This is the reason why I would never go back and I would always suggest to graduates like me to go, explore and challenge themselves. This is the best moment to do it. we are free, careless and extremely lucky to live in the time we live. Because, quoting Gary Vaynerchuk, there’s just one thing more scary than failure, and that’s regret.
Fellow engineers, fight for your dreams! and never forget that the best engineer is the one enjoying the journey.