Not many families casually discuss chemical engineering at the dinner table, but for Jennifer – whose dad and grandad were both engineers – conversations about process design, biology and construction specification were no biggie. “I was exposed to it all from such a young age,” she says.
So, after high school, it was straight to Western Australia’s Curtin University to enrol in a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, where Jennifer undertook internships at law firm Griffith Hack and South32’s Worsley Alumina refinery. “I worked at South32 for three months before starting my final year,” she recalls.
Experience in the field was a bonus when it came to job hunting – something that Jennifer decided to prioritise during her last year of study. She didn’t want to go into her final exams with the added stress of not having a job at the end of them, even looking for gigs outside of her home state, Western Australia, to open up her options.
Luckily at the time, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) was advertising a bunch of graduate positions for people with skills – but not necessarily backgrounds – similar to Jennifer’s and she aced the interview, showing off the problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical skills she’d picked up during her engineering studies. “I was accepted early in my final year of uni,” she says. “I never thought my degree would lead to a job in a bank!”
Her role in Digital, Operations and Technology (DOT) isn’t exactly your typical engineering gig, but her chemical engineer’s critical and creative mind is still put to work. “At the moment I’m applying my chemical engineering skills when deriving insights from data, and these insights are used in decision-making by leaders in the team,” she says.
Jennifer loves the CBA community’s supportive attitude, particularly towards the less experienced graduate employees like herself. She has also made some real-life mates, hanging out after work, too. “I’m learning and being challenged, but they’re all really supportive,” she says. “I work with really intelligent and amazing people!”
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2019.
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.