Sarah Bagster is a graduate from Cleanaway’s Graduate Program. We spoke with her to find out what it was like working hands on with a variety of projects and the advice she has for future graduates looking to join the program.
Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science (Nanoscience and Materials) with honours at the University of Adelaide.
Why did you apply for Cleanaway’s graduate program?
I completed a science degree and an honours year, and I got to the end of it and thought, I’m not a huge research person and would prefer to be a bit more general. I started looking at jobs and grad programs and came across Cleanaway’s program. I really like sustainability and knowing how things work, so the reuse and recycling side of waste management and learning about different processes interested me. I wanted to try many different things and get that variety.
Had you heard about Cleanaway before you applied?
I’d seen Cleanaway trucks and bins around, but I didn’t know that much about the company.
What have you enjoyed the most in your first rotation?
I’ve enjoyed getting out there and being able to visit sites, while getting to learn about a lot of diverse processes. My first rotation was very project based and every project that I did was different – the variety was great. I even got to go to a rural site and do some work on a project out there, which was interesting. It was nice to have that exposure.
Did you have people around you that you could talk to if you needed support?
My manager was great, very knowledgeable and supportive. He’s very busy, but when he could spare the time he was very helpful and taught me so much. During my first rotation I worked with the Liquids Engineering team. They’re a national team of very experienced people that work on a wide range of projects. I could usually get help from my manager or others in my team, but sometimes I would have to work things out on my own or reach out to the people that I was working on a project with. It was an interesting and sometimes challenging situation to be in, but I think it helped me grow a lot.
Do you feel like you’ve learnt a lot in your first rotation?
Yes, I think I’ve learnt a lot about the business in general, as well as the specific areas I worked in. I visited a lot of sites and observed what they do as a whole, so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the Liquids side of the business – at least for now. I also got to work a bit on the policy side of the business.
I’ve definitely enjoyed some projects more than others, but having variety is why I’ve enjoyed the rotation so much. My new rotation has some similarities, but it’s quite a bit different – less project-based and more focused on policy and auditing.
Has the program met your expectations so far?
Yes, I would say so – especially given everything that has happened recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn’t have too many expectations; I think I was more willing to go with the flow and try everything.
Would you recommend the program to future graduates?
Yes, it’s been really good. I think it’s suited to a certain kind of person, partly because it’s waste management – someone who wants to go out to waste sites. I’ve had a lot of experiences that I don’t know that I would get in other workplaces. After the initial transition into the workplace, I feel like I’m a part of it now – not just a graduate, but a part of each team.
What can future graduates expect from the program?
You’ll find out what happens to a lot of waste and take a real role in improving how it’s managed. You’ll undertake a wide variety of work throughout the program and you will get to meet and work with people from all over the business. You won’t have your hand held, but your colleagues are there to help when you need them. You’ll definitely have to get out there and you might need to get your hands dirty too.
What advice would you give new graduates looking to find their first job?
Be genuine. Don’t try to be anything you’re not by pretending to have experience that you don’t. Being genuine gets you a lot further and people know who you are and what you can do. Give it a go! What’s the worst that can happen? It’s better to try something and see if you enjoy it than to miss out on the opportunity.
You’ll be gaining experience you wouldn’t have had otherwise. In terms of graduate programs, they are a nice introduction to the workforce and you’re not committed to a particular role. You get a chance to change and see what you like best. It gives you a better understanding of the business as a whole and an opportunity to find where you fit it for when you finish the program.
Cleanaway’s Graduate Program
In 2019, Cleanaway launched our Graduate Program, designed to create career pathways for recent graduates through hands-on experience and insight into Cleanaway and the waste management industry as a whole.
The Graduate Program is tailored for people who have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the previous two years and involves rotating placements lasting up to six months, offered in areas including:
- Engineering (Civil/Chemical)
- Chemistry/Environmental Science
- Supply Chain & Logistics
The launch of the program saw hundreds of applications submitted, with the successful graduates commencing with Cleanaway in early 2020.
Cleanaway is committed to promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, driven by employment and decent work for all. We are aligned to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as described in our 2020 Sustainability Report.
Contact us to learn more about the incredible men and women who are making a sustainable future possible through a career with Cleanaway.