News & Insights

From one grad to another....

The first day of a new job is always daunting, fresh out of university, the consulting world is a big step up from the Macca’s drive through job you had while you studied. However, fret not, in my experience as a grad and often the youngest person in the room, this simply opens the door to a world of opportunities. If there is one piece of advice I can give, it is: ask anything and everything and embrace not knowing the answers at first.

Image of Naomi Matthyssen

I started in the Cardno, now Stantec Graduate Rotation Program in 2020. As we all know, 2020 (and 2021) threw us a couple of curveballs and I started my new role in a work from home capacity… Not how you imagine starting off, but my team made sure I felt right at home! When we did get back to the office, it was a fantastic opportunity to take the time and get to know the team properly and get to know people outside of the workplace also.

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and that’s what drove me to study Earth Science at Monash. In 2018, I moved to Kalgoorlie and worked in both gold exploration and underground mining which was an eye-opening experience. However, the desire to enter a more environmentally friendly field held strong and I moved back to Melbourne in 2020 and began work with the contaminated lands team at Cardno, now Stantec. The past two years have taken me around Victoria and into New South Wales and given me the chance to work in many different settings from large remediation projects to smaller site investigations.   

There is lots to learn and love about your new graduate role and you should take every opportunity that presents itself. There is so much to learn from the projects you work on, the people you work with and the communities you work in.

Being a graduate is more than just being a newbie. It is about being part of a team, contributing to community defining projects and overall is about showing and growing your passion and expertise.

Image of Naomi Matthyssen with colleague on worksite

Image of Naomi Matthyssen on project site

Here are my top 5 tips for grads:

  1. Let your manager know your passion. I am passionate about sustainability and my team keeps me in mind for any sustainability focused projects and professional development opportunities.
  2. Get to know the people that are starting with you. Swap tips with fellow newbies, it’s one of the best things about the graduate program. You might end up working together down the track so it’s good to get acquainted with as many fellow grads as possible.
  3. Keep detailed notes. There is a lot of new lingo, acronyms, programs, and channels. I found by using OneNote and taking screen shots was a life saver at times. Though, if you do forget something, everyone is very friendly and they don’t mind explaining anything to you in more detail.
  4. Opportunity to work with subcontractors. When you’re on site, let them know you’re a grad, familiarise yourself with the site and don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you think they are silly as you can learn so much.
  5. Make sure you look after yourself. Keep up hobbies and sports outside of work. The pandemic has taught us that it is so important to realise our passions and maintain a life outside work.

There are so many opportunities to learn, to meet people and build relationships, there are ways to grow professionally and best of all really feel like you are contributing to something bigger.
Image of Naomi Matthyssen on project site

So, as you embark on this journey I encourage you to embrace every minute. If you’re ever in doubt or need someone to chat to feel free to reach out. Good luck and have fun!


Naomi Matthyssen is an Environmental Scientist with 2 years of experience working with the contaminated lands team at Cardno and previous experience in gold exploration and underground geology. Her work has taken her from the underground tunnels of the Western Australian Goldfields to the windy coast of South Gippsland. Since joining Cardno Naomi has worked on projects such as the remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated sites as well as in soil classification works involved in large infrastructure projects such as the North East Link.