Kayla Fuemana

Meet Downer at the virtual 2020 CDES STEM Careers Expo!

Kayla Fuemana

  • Graduate Engineer - Downer
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) - Civil Engineering

Did your career plans change as you studied?

My goal of becoming a civil engineer did not change as I studied. But my understanding of what a civil engineer actually does did change. The more I got through my degree, the more I learnt about how many different career paths there were to pursue. From design to management and structures to geomechanics, the career options are in the hundreds. Having so much choice makes it difficult to pick one initially but it provides an opportunity to pursue something you like and are good at.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?

I am still working out what I want to do next year so I am not too sure where I see myself in the next 5-10 years at the moment. What I am certain about is that I want to be in a meaningful role that positively impacts my community and the environment. Where I can continue to grow and learn from people around me as well as develop younger engineers. I also want to inspire women, particularly pacific women, to choose a career in civil engineering or another sector in the construction industry.

The two most important pieces of advice that I can offer to an undergrad about work experience is first, choose work experience that you genuinely want to pursue and second, choose a company that you want to work for after studying. Very simple advice but very effective – you can learn anywhere but you cannot grow everywhere.

How valuable was your internship OR work experience for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?

EXTREMELY VALUABLE. The inside of a work place is very different to university. Not only are you working with people who could be 30 years your senior, the culture and daily routine of the working life have little similarities to the study life. My work experience helped develop my practical, soft and interpersonal skills. It helped me decide to pursue a career in contracting and shaped my understanding of construction and engineering. It also got my foot in the door to work for one of New Zealand’s best tier one head contracting companies.