Vacation jobs with GHD

GHD are advertising for vacation jobs for “undergraduate students at the end of their third year” in the coming summer. I’d imagine that these positions would also be suitable for honours and Masters students who are interested in working in environmental consulting. Several students in the University of Melbourne’s masters programs have been offered vacation employment with GHD in previous years, and they have often then joined GHD via their graduate recruitment program. I understand that applications close on 31 August. For information from GHD, see here:


DEPI Graduate Program

The Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries is recruiting for its 2014 Science Graduate Program. Details are available on its website:



Sydney Water Graduate Program

Sydney Water have advertised that its graduate program is accepting applications, including positions for environmental scientists. More information is available on their website. The list of attributes they are looking for are worth considering for other jobs. Here is a quote from their website (I corrected one spelling error – I couldn’t help myself):

“We are looking for graduates who are innovative, creative, ambitious and open to new experiences. You will work in new places, with different people, and on a diverse range of projects.

You will need to display the Sydney Water key behaviours of:

Honesty – we display high levels of professional standards and integrity

Teamwork – we work cooperatively with each other to achieve the best outcomes

Achievement Driven – we reach our goals that matter and overcome barriers to success

Personal Responsibility – we are reliable and deliver what we say we will.

You must:

have a solid academic transcript

be a team player

have excellent verbal and written communication skills

be flexible and open to change

participate in extra curricular activities including sports, clubs, and societies.”

Get a job…

Georgia Garrard, the co-coordinator of our subject Graduate Seminar: Environmental Science, arranged for Cathy Oke and Al Jones to discuss how recent graduates can increase their chances of getting an Environmental Science job. Cathy Oke is currently a Greens Councillor at the City of Melbourne (PhD in science and with lots of recruitment experience). Al Jones is a recent graduate of the Environmental Science stream of The University of Melbourne, and is now employed in the graduate program of GHD. They provided valuable perspectives on recruitment.

Here is a summary of what I heard in the discussion:

Applications should be tightly focused on the specific selection criteria;

Employers are looking for people who are smart, have initiative, can communicate well (including effectively dealing with conflict, and can write and speak clearly), are self-motivated, are committed, and can learn quickly and independently. Some technical skills are helpful, but many positions will involve training. That might be depressing for students who have completed 5 years or more of study, but employers use academic performance as an indicator of some of these attributes;

Use examples and narratives that illustrate the attributes that employers are seeking, and that address the selection criteria. Be prepared to talk about these examples in an interview;

Don’t expect recruiters to read every word of every application – your application needs to be to the point and engaging. For example, be aware of what (how little) people read of CV’s;

Do background research so that you undertand the organisation and the role;

You will need to be persistent – some jobs will have dozens of applicants or more;

Take advantage of networking opportunities. Seek out mentors in relevant organisations who can help identify opportunities; and

Gain experience via volunteering and vacation employment in relevant areas.

Edit on 30 Oct 2012: I have just have a Twitter conversation with @Dr24Hours and @ChemJobber about volunteering. It is important that you think carefully about what you might volunteer for. You need to genuinely think about whether the skills being gained are worth the time being spent. There is the real risk that the volunteer might be exploited unfairly. In fact, even in paid work it is important that one isn’t being exploited. As @Dr24Hours put it: “There’s a difference between volunteering for an organization because you believe in their goals …and being force to volunteer because the people with the keys to the kingdom won’t pay you.” While it wouldn’t be a primary reason to help, volunteering for an organization because you believe in their goals can also help your career. Depending on what you do, these benefits might include experience with organizing people and projects, managing budgets, learning about leadership and teamwork, etc. Having examples of these skills and experiences outside of life as a student can help for some (most?) jobs.

Also, I just read this article about internships in The Age: These seem different from what I had previously regarded as internships where students gain academic credit towards a degree via their internship. Am I right? But I can see why @ChemJobber and @Dr24Hours were less enthusiastic about volunteer positions – the style of internship in the article seemingly crosses the line towards exploitation.

And this too:

There are probably lots of other points that have slipped my mind, but these seem to have been the key ones.

Edit (12/11/2013): Here is some advice about getting a job in conservation:

Australasian Land and Groundwater Association Student Night

The Australasian Land & Groundwater Association (ALGA) is hosting a night for all environmental students to hear from experts in the industry about their roles and what they do.

Brief presentations will be given from representatives from a broad crosssection of environmental disciplines, and there will also be representatives from other industry associations.

This is an opportunity for students to get a “first hand” briefing on the industry and its various sectors, mix with professionals that have had many years experience in their respective roles and ask questions in an open and relaxed forum. Senior Managers from the different industry stakeholders who are involved in graduate recruitment programs, will also be present.

When: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Where: Minter Ellison Lawyers, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, 1300 789 719

Attendance fee for students: $11

More information, including registration: here