Tell us about your role?
Telstra is enhancing the way Australians connect with each other and the rest of the world. I completed my graduate rotations within Telstra’s IP & Transport Engineering teams, specifically within the Optical Transport and Edge Engineering domains. These teams are at the heart of Telstra’s network, providing the backbone for our national network, and building platforms to connect customers to the core of our network.
Engineering teams are responsible for bringing new technologies into the network, with the goal of providing more capacity and resiliency to cater to the exponential growth of traffic we can expect going forward. Automation is going to play a large part in how we can deliver services faster and more reliably in the future, and each engineering team plays an important role to enable this.
The engineering work I do is quite varied and includes testing software and devices in our labs, testing new network topologies, writing change plans for our network, and building automation capability within my team. My current team is an engineering and rolling out our Next-Gen Optical (DWDM) Network. This is a massive overhaul of our legacy transmission networks and is enabling much more flexible and reliable optical transport services across Australia, with immense bandwidth and capacity to scale in future.
What can you share about your background?
I grew up in Melbourne, and always knew I wanted to start my career here, however it took me a long time to figure out exactly what that career would be. I started a Science degree at Melbourne University to give me some time to try different things, and I chose Engineering as I thought the combination of maths, software, and design suited me. At around this time, I was also pretty involved in music and was doing regular gigs with a cover band. My biggest passion has always been playing the guitar, and this gave me a great outlet to express myself outside of work and study. It was my interest in guitar and audio engineering that drove me to pursue Electrical Engineering at university. I was really keen to learn about amplifier design and signal processing, and as I got through my degree I realised that Electrical Engineering was much broader than I thought. I completed some subjects in communication systems and network engineering and heard about the Telstra Networks Technology program through a good friend of mine who had completed an internship here. The pace of evolution in the telecommunications and network engineering field really appealed to me, so applying for the grad program was a no-brainer.
Could someone with a different study or interest background work in your role?
Yes. The engineers in my space come from a diverse range of fields, such as Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Network & Computer Engineering, IT, and Software Engineering/Computer Science. This isn’t to say that those areas are a pre-requisite, as there’s a steep learning curve for anyone who joins regardless of education. All that’s required is a willingness to learn on the job, and ideally a technology-focused background.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
For Telstra to provide a superior network that will scale with the growing demands of the internet, we need to deploy bleeding-edge technology into our network. By this, I mean technology that is cutting-edge but at its infancy. We work closely with our technology vendors to develop solutions that push the boundaries in the telecommunications industry, and this requires a lot of hands-on work in our lab environments. However, engineering at Telstra isn’t just about doing lab work or doing coding on your own. We’re always involved in developing solutions across teams and with our vendors, and while this can be challenging it’s very exciting to be involved in projects that shape the future of this industry.
What are the limitations of your job?
Graduates are given a good amount of responsibility from early in the program. This can be daunting at first as it can take months to even develop a basic understanding of certain network functions, yet you might be involved in changes to our production networks from the get-go. There’s a lot of support within your team and the broader Telstra community, but in my opinion, some degree of self-learning outside of work is definitely required to succeed in this kind of environment. I’ve been really grateful for the work-life balance at Telstra – there are times when you need to deliver something which might require staying back at work for an hour or two, but in general, work is very flexible here.
What are 3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...