"One of the great things about Melbourne university is the flexibility of the Melbourne model and the ability to try different things along the side while you’re moving towards one field."
Devon completed both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. He is now working at Ericsson as part of their graduate program.
Leaving high school, I liked the idea of maths and problem solving and wanted to do some sort of degree along those lines. I had some idea that I liked engineering, but I never really tried it. Once I did, I realised it was something I wanted to pursue further.
During my time at Melbourne University, I did some pretty cool subjects and had good industry connections as well. The capstone subject was great. I spent a year working with Lockheed Martin. We designed a satellite system, modelled it using these 3D simulators and designed the whole disaster response system using satellites.
I also did an internship through a Melbourne University subject. I worked for company in Richmond in audio technology and that again was helpful. I’ve never worked full time like that before, so it was great to get that experience and see what a workplace is like.
During my time at university, I also attended industry events run by engineering clubs and they were very helpful. You get to hear from past students, the industry itself and get a feel for what the hiring process is like. The first time I heard about Ericsson was through one of these industry events. A University of Melbourne graduate from several years ago was there to talk about Ericsson. Recently, I organised to go and speak at one of these events. I’ve come back one year later now, but as one of the speakers. It really comes full circle.
What I love about working at Ericsson is that it’s global. It is one of the leaders in telecommunication and it’s great that we have that global reach and perspective. My team could be working with a team in India that’s supporting us, if there’s an issue we might send an email to HQ in Stockholm and they sometimes send specialists down to help us. It doesn’t feel like we’re in a niche in Australia, but we’re connected to what’s going around in the world. There’s also the potential to move to another country to work which is pretty cool.
I think knowing how to code is very important these days. At university, I learnt a bit of C, Java and Python. Because I had some programming experience, I was able to help streamline some of the processes at Ericsson. They had Excel spreadsheets that they were updating manually which I thought was inefficient. I asked “why are we doing this?” and they said “can you fix this?”
To all those looking to get into a similar field. I definitely recommend trying coding as soon as possible. Most people either love it or hate it, so if you realise that you love it early, then you can pursue it. It's important to have a solid foundation of what good programming looks like. Anyone can try to code, but if you’re coming from zero, it’s very hard to write something that’s useful to anyone else other than you.
Also, put yourself out there. You need to have something else on your resume other than just uni. There needs to be something else you can talk about. This could be something like being a part of a club. It’s never too late to get involved.
I was quite involved in the Christian Union at university. It was a really great way to meet people and build friendships. I learnt a lot that helped me professionally as well. I was in leadership, the executive community, helped organise events and lead small groups.
Lastly, do an internship or any other industry things you can find, like hobby projects. If something interests you, just do it. They do very well in interviews.
I really enjoyed my time at Melbourne University, it’s a great place to be. My final piece of advice is to make the most of having this much free time to develop strong friendships and relationships that will carry through to work. The transition from studying to working can be very tough. If you don’t have anyone to support you, you can feel very isolated, but if you have friends and family, it makes the transition a lot easier.