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Lauren Symon: My experience as an Education Endowment Fund scholarship recipient

ยท 800 words, 3 min read

Lauren is a final year Civil Engineering and Earth Science dual degree student studying at the Queensland University of Technology. She has a passion to use engineering skills to solve geological problems, and a keen interest in geotechnical engineering and underground mining operations. She received an AusIMM Education Endowment Fund (EEF) Scholarship in 2023.

The EEF Scholarship program was an extraordinary journey of growth and opportunity.

From connecting with like-minded peers, to immersive experiences like the field trip to Tasmania, I had so many new experiences and learnings throughout the program. Networking with industry professionals provided invaluable insights and mentorship, guiding my career path. The program's mentorship component provided empowering personal and professional development, instilling confidence within myself and providing me with a clear direction. 

The specific program highlight for me was going underground my first time while on the Tasmania field trip. Prior to this I had only seen open pit coal mining operations, so I struggled to imagine what underground mining was like. I was lucky enough to go underground and experience it first hand with all of the other EEF recipients, some who had worked underground already and were able to provide me with some insight.

Straight away I was very interested in learning about the underground operational processes and specialist equipment. Particularly the jumbos and seeing firsthand how they install the ground support. This demonstrated the immense geotechnical challenges that underground mining operations face and was a breakthrough realisation that I really wanted to work underground.

These new learnings from the field trip were something I could then relay to my mentor, and we were able to apply them to help guide decisions for my future career. Through my mentoring I was able to discuss best how to develop my career while still at university, and exploring what I am looking for from graduate programs. This was very beneficial as I made a career change, switching from open pit coal to underground gold mining.

I received further support from the other EEF recipients, where we all had something different to share as we were from all around Australia and had different discipline backgrounds. From this I was able to learn more about other areas of mining and better understand how all the roles work together to effectively run an operation.

Other opportunities that came from the EEF Scholarship included being given the opportunity to speak at the AusIMM New Leaders Summit in Adelaide last September about my experiences with the program. This allowed me to challenge myself by venturing beyond my comfort zone and honing my public speaking skills. The program also provided me with a multitude of networking opportunities, such as meeting the EEF Trustees and other industry professionals in Tasmania and again at the annual AusIMM Awards Dinner in Melbourne.

Lauren at the AusIMM New Leaders Summit 2023. 

The financial assistance of the EEF Scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and early career for my final two years of university. With reduced financial pressure, I was able to take up an executive position on the 2024 AusIMM Southern Queensland Student Chapter committee, where I can give back to AusIMM and inspire other students to get involved with the resources sector. I have developed many meaningful friendships with the other EEF trustees, who I now consider lifelong friends. It’s good to know some familiar faces in the industry from all around Australia, so no matter where my career takes me, I know I’ll run into another fellow EEF recipient sooner or later!

Set to graduate this year, the EEF program has provided me with an exceptional foundation to kick start my career. Having visited many mine sites, heard all about the different disciplines within the industry, met industry professionals from all around Australia and one-one-one tailored mentoring, I am equipped with all the necessary skills to excel in my early career. If it weren’t for the EEF program I may not have discovered my passion for underground mining, and my career trajectory could have looked very different.

I am looking forward to entering the workforce as a graduate next year where I can take everything I have learnt and begin to apply it, whilst keeping in touch with my mentor, the trustees and other recipients who provided me with guidance along the way.

Want to find out more about AusIMM's EEF Scholarship program? Visit our website for more information.

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