Powering up her career
It's a long way from the high rises of Hong Kong to the rolling hills of Warwick, but that's the journey Josephine Tuntomo has made.
Josephine is in her third year of a dual degree in Engineering and Arts, and trying to decide which path to follow. She knows she wants to be an engineer, and says her Arts degree is just for personal interest, but she’s not sure what type of engineering she’s most interested in.
Josephine was recommended for a casual position as a student engineer with UQ’s Properties and Facilities (P&F) team, and as part of that was able to get involved with the Warwick Solar Farm project.
“When I went in for the interview, I did some background research, and I saw that the Warwick Solar Farm was getting started,” she says. “I got a chance to ask some questions about it and expressed some interest.
“I was really interested in power or aeronautical areas, and the solar farm is a really good opportunity to see if I enjoy working in that kind of field,” she says.
Josephine has worked under the guidance of P&F Project Officer – Energy Management, Sarah Haskmann, to assist in the design and construction phases of the Warwick Solar Farm, as well as other projects such as the High Voltage Upgrade at Long Pocket.
Sarah says this is the perfect opportunity for students such as Josephine to apply what they are learning in their engineering studies.
“There is a huge step between what is taught in undergraduate engineering and what really happens ‘on the job’. Having experience in this transition prior to graduating will give students a very large advantage when it comes to securing a graduate position as an engineer.”
Warwick is world away from Hong Kong, where Josephine grew up, but she says she loves the adventure of working in the rural town.
“It’s more relaxing, because you’re away from the city and away from high rise buildings,” she says. “I really enjoy being out there doing physical stuff, instead of sitting at a desk. I love getting to see the sunset.”
It’s understandable why Josephine would be drawn to the more relaxed pace, in contrast to the busy schedule that fills the rest of her time. In addition to her engineering studies, she also studies psychology and criminology as part of her Arts degree.
Although she chose these topics for personal interest, she says her psychology studies have helped her to improve her communication skills, especially in a professional setting.
“Sometimes when I’m communicating with my colleagues or bosses, I get a bit nervous,” she says. “Doing social psychology has definitely helped me know how to shape what I’m going to say.”
Outside of studying, Josephine keeps busy coaching badminton at her old high school, and is a keen photographer. She also volunteers as a mentor for UQ Mates and O’ to 4, and is a student ambassador for the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology.
“I was really nervous and anxious when I started uni,” she says, “but the opportunities UQ has given me – as an ambassador, talking to people, and working on the solar farm project – have definitely improved my confidence and interpersonal skills.”
Josephine’s communication skills have grown so much that Mey Orchard, Project Coordinator – Mentoring, selected her to work on the UQ Mentoring booth at UQ’s Volunteering Expo in July.
“She was excellent at engaging and speaking with students,” Mey says. “Mentoring provides a great opportunity for students to build their leadership and organisation skills, as well as giving back and helping other students.”
Things don’t look like slowing down any time soon for Josephine, who is exploring other placement options that will help her decide what field she wants to work in.
She says it’s practical experiences like these that have helped her to develop beyond what she learns in the classroom.
“I’m realising my inner potential on how I can perform in real life.”
Warwick image courtesy of Getty Images / Vicki Smith