How to find an IRL engineering mentor online
For many, the idea of finding a mentor may seem a bit daunting. How do you just find someone who’s willing to spend time talking you through your career aspirations? And isn’t that a kind of, well, awkward conversation to start having with a stranger?
For UTS Civil Engineering and BCII student, Harrison Andrews, he turned to the Professional Mentoring Platform (PMP) to find a mentor: “What drew me to PMP was the fact that I was looking for insights into the industry in which I am studying as well as to network with other people.”
The platform not only helped him circumnavigate some of the stresses of a traditional mentorship, but has also lead him to make some fulfilling industry connections and help inform his career direction. We had a chat with Harrison about why he decided to join the platform the begin with, and his experience with his mentor, Kasun Wijayaratna (Lecturer in Roads and Transport Engineering, UTS School of Civil & Environmental Engineering).
Harrison, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. So what drew you to the Professional Mentoring Platform? Were you looking for insight on career development, networking, finding a job… or something else?
“I believe that you can never know enough people and I think it’s really important to form as many connections as possible through platforms such as LinkedIn. PMP to me, was a basis or framework that would allow me to form these connections.
Additionally, I felt that insight and experience was a lot more important than just studying and learning content within university. Again, PMP provided this connection for me.”
And once you joined the platform, how did you find the experience? Was it straightforward? Did you struggle at all?
“I absolutely loved using PMP. It is very easy to use and it takes no longer than two minutes to set up and connect with individuals within your chosen industry.
PMP utilised the details I put in about myself and then came up with suggestions of people that I could connect with. This made it a lot much easier to connect with people and assisted me further in getting to understand the industry.”
So once you were connected with your mentor, what sort of things did you talk about?
“PMP connected me with an individual within the Road and Transport sector and he provided me with a very interesting insight into my future and professional career.
Within our chat, we discussed the future of road and transport, how we could utilise innovation to minimise traffic, what things I could do now to prepare for the future and how much of the content we learn at uni is applied within our professional career and development.”
Did he have any advice you’d like to pass on to your fellow students? Maybe some words of wisdom they may not have come across before?
“Some points that I received off my mentor that I think are definitely worth telling my fellow students includes:
- Employers look for applicants who are passionate about their work and are willing to learn to turn their weaknesses into strengths
- Networking is key
- Connect with as many people as you can
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in that.”
Having been on the platform for a while, have you managed to make the industry connections you were looking for?
“I initially had no idea what PMP was. I didn’t even know that existed. However, the benefits it had for me are amazing.
I feel as though PMP is really undervalued and not used enough by students. It is literally a FREE connection between students and professionals. PMP actually has premade messages that you can use. You just need to click “SEND”.
PMP has benefited me by connecting me with individuals who can provide me with unique insights into the construction industry as well as to connect with other individuals who can assist me in my professional development.
I’ve also managed to make connections at firms such as Macquarie, where I have gained some valuable application tips for the Summer Internship program that I have applied for. I’ve also connected with another individual who is assisting me in understanding how innovation can be utilised to make the construction industry more efficient.”
Harrison’s mentor, Kasun Wijayaratna, is a lecturer at the UTS School of Civil & Environmental Engineering. We asked him for his experience as a mentor on PMP.
Kasun, you’ve been on PMP as a mentor for a little while now – how have you found the platform?
“I was lucky to meet two undergraduate students both doing wonderful degrees and who had such optimistic perspectives of industry, especially given the current context.
One student managed to secure a graduate role during my interaction with her and she was seeking insight into how to approach a new role and new environment.
The other student shared with me his interest in construction management and innovation to make activities more efficient on construction sites, I was able to connect him with a colleague of mine and that may lead to further opportunities for the student as well as the academic.
Being a relatively new academic at UTS it has been a full-filling experience for me to meet students and help them in any way that I can. I met with both students through Microsoft Teams and have let them know I am always available for a chat if they require guidance.”
Maybe finding a mentor isn’t so stressful after all?
If you’re hoping to forge industry connections, learn more about your desired career pathway, or just develop your professional network why don’t you take Harrison’s advice and give the Professional Mentoring Platform a go?
By Mia Casey
UTS Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation student.