What Comes First, Work Or Study?

What Comes First, Work Or Study?

Choosing the right career has never been harder! The wide range of various pathways makes the important decision a tough one, even more so when the road you choose to take has several sidetracks to follow. 

Our ‘New Starter’ James knows this all too well, with his choice to study engineering being the first of many decisions, all contributing to the direction of his career. 

We may refer to James as a ‘New Starter’, but he isn’t new to Schlam at all! In fact, James has been with Schlam since 2019, beginning his Schlam journey as a part-time employee whilst he studied, changing to full-time in 2022 once he officially graduated from university. 

“Initially I was working 2 days a week during term, and 4 or 5 days a week during the summer break. I did this for 2 years and then had a couple months off before coming on board full time” James said.

Overall, James completed 5 years at UWA, including 3 years of Bachelor of Engineering Science and another 2 years for Master of Mechanical Engineering. 

Studying and working at the same time can be a juggling act. The art of balancing these commitments can be a difficult technique to master, but for James he was able to get through his degree and part-time employment mostly unscathed. 

“Managing part-time work and full-time studying was easy, until I reached the last year of my degree. At the end of each semester, I would have multiple assignments all due at the same time, as well as completing my thesis” James said. 

To get through these high-pressure moments, it’s crucial you have a team that backs you up and pushes you to the finish line. 

“Tom and Dan were my managers during the final year of my degree. They were incredibly understanding and allowed me to take time off whenever I needed it. With that support, I can proudly say that I never needed to pull an all-nighter!” James said. 

Many people question the need for study and work to coincide, but for James it was a no brainer, with work experience benefiting his studies in more ways than one. 

 “The experience I received in design and manufacturing was handy. I even had to correct my classmates’ drawings on a few occasions to make it ‘manufacturable’. Gaining experience with the FEA software at Schlam, also ensured I was one step ahead of the game when it came time to use it in class” James explained. 

Now that James has completed his studies and became a full-time employee, his duties have also changed, with James naturally receiving more responsibility. 

“My role got a lot busier when I changed to full-time, as I received more responsibility by managing my own projects and doing a large amount of analysis work using EDEM” James said. 

At Schlam, we are big believers in continuous education and training, which in the long run will allow for successful career progression within the company. 

“I have recently changed roles to an Application Engineer. I still do analysis work, but I also prepare the sales teams general assembly for each tray inquiry we received. It’s great to have a change and learn new skills” James explained. 

It’s been 3 years since James first joined Schlam as a part-time employee, but for James this feels like the start of his long and successful career at Schlam! 

“I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of the Schlam tray, as well as watching the company grow, both within Australia and Internationally. It’s a great privilege to be a part of the journey” James said. 

For anyone who is currently going through the decision process to find their perfect career, or perhaps for those who are at a crossroads and looking for a change, James has some advice which helped him get where he is today. 

“Don’t be afraid to explore your options and see if you are able to get hands on experience or an insight into the field if you are unsure. If not, choose a career path that has aspects that you’ll know you will enjoy. That’s why I chose engineering, as I enjoyed all the subjects necessary for it” James said. 

“At the end of the day, make sure it’s something that makes you happy!” 

Congratulations James. We look forward to seeing where your career takes you. 

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