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Building a Career in Mining: How to Find the Perfect Graduate Job

Building a Career in Mining: How to Find the Perfect Graduate Job

So you've graduated with a mining degree or are edging towards the finish line, and you're thinking about the future.

Firstly, congratulations! Completing a university degree is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud. It’s an exciting time in mining, with many avenues to explore, especially as we shift into a low-carbon economy.

After university, entering the workforce can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you find the best mining jobs? What makes a mining role a good one? These are all great (and normal) questions to ask, and we will do our best to answer them so you can make informed decisions and enter the industry with confidence.

Where do you find graduate mining jobs?

First things first, where do you find mining engineer jobs? Luckily engineering companies all around Australia are looking for graduate mining engineers and advertising FIFO jobs. However, some companies recruit privately, so staying proactive in your search and reaching out to companies directly will help your plight.

Here are a few tips for finding mining jobs:

Networking: Does your university run networking events? Or have you heard about other events in the industry? Networking can be scary but try to stay open and seize opportunities to meet people. You will be surprised by the opportunities that will come your way.

Memberships: Becoming a member of mining associations like AUSismm and Engineering Australia can be a great way to network (see above) and hear about job opportunities not publicly advertised.

Ask friends and family: You know the saying, it’s not what you know but who you know. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Tell your friends and family you’re on the lookout for a job, and ask them to keep an ear out.

Job boards: The usual job boards like SEEK, Indeed, Jora and are always worthwhile. But we recommend going beyond job boards for your search as only some mining companies advertise FIFO jobs and mining roles.

Mining company job boards: Top mining contractors and companies have their own job boards where you can apply for graduate programs or send your CV. Make a list of your favourites and check them regularly.

Social media: Follow the companies you would love to work for and switch on notifications so you know when they’re taking on graduates. Often this is how companies will announce their recruitment.

What to consider before you start your mining job search

Of course, there are big mining companies everyone wants to work for but looking beyond the obvious is a wise move. Deciding what mining jobs to apply for comes down to your career direction, lifestyle preferences and values, and these are different for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you start your job search.

Think about your career direction

Do you want to jump into day-to-day operations? Or are you hoping to become a consultant or manager? Instead of trying to plan your entire career trajectory, which can be overwhelming (and impossible), many mining graduates find it helpful to consider what part of the industry excites them. For example, perhaps you want to learn more about mining safety, geology or the environmental aspects of mining.

Once you know what parts of mining interest you, research the mining companies that offer these jobs or will provide you with experiences in these environments. But remember, getting your foot in the door is essential so remain open to other opportunities, too. You can always change directions later.

Still thinking about your interests? We recommend applying for a graduate program. They give you a taste of different jobs so you can discover what you enjoy while you work.

The graduate program rotations provide valuable exposure to different mining areas and the skills we need, which is extremely beneficial in the long term,”
Nicole Martin, Graduate Mining Engineer.

Make training a priority

Growth is vital as a graduate so finding a company that invests in career progression and personal development should be a high priority. So what do you look for when you’re canvasing for mining jobs? Graduate programs provide a structured learning environment where you get experience across different sites. You get an assigned mentor who will support your career journey and make the transition from university easier. When looking for jobs, check if the company supports training programs, apprenticeships, short courses, mentorships and workshops. Often these are advertised as benefits in job descriptions.

My favourite part of the graduate program is opening up to my mentors and setting goals to ensure I’m on track to achieving what I want in the future,” says Zac Lewis, Graduate Mining Engineer.

Consider the lifestyle of a FIFO job

Location is a major consideration when looking for a mining job. Mine sites tend to be in regional areas, so FIFO (Fly in, Fly out) jobs are common for mining engineers.

There are still mining engineer jobs in the city, but many office workers have experience working regionally. Macmahon contracts to mine sites around Australia, predominantly in Western Australia and Queensland. We also have projects in Indonesia.

There are a variety of rosters depending on the role, rotation and site. When on-site, you’ll work a 12-hour shift, which takes getting used to, but you also get substantial rest. Many engineers thrive on these schedules, as they can focus on work when at work and on downtime when they’re at home. Others prefer more conventional routines, like 8-to-5.

I work a 2:2 roster, which means I spend so much more time with my family than when I was running my business,” said Joel Cucel, Operator.

Career progression is important, but so is work-life balance so be mindful of what lifestyle you will find manageable.

Questions to consider:

  • Am I willing to move away for work, e.g. Would I move to Queensland from Perth?
  • Would I be comfortable with a FIFO job?
  • Would I like the mine site to be close to a country town?
  • What kind of rosters would I consider?
  • What amenities would make me feel more at home, e.g. gym, tennis court, excellent mess hall

Look for positive work cultures

Culture is another major consideration when looking for a graduate mining job. What is work culture? It can be described as a company’s shared beliefs and behaviours or the environment or “vibe” of a workplace. Work culture can be measured by how people feel at work. Are they happy and motivated? Do they feel supported? An example of a toxic work environment would be where employees work long hours without recognition, get treated disrespectfully by managers and interact very little with coworkers. Toxic work cultures aren’t conducive to productivity or a happy and healthy team.

Of course, it’s impossible to know what an organisation’s work culture is like without actually setting foot in the workplace, but there are things you can look for when comparing mining employers.

Signs of positive work culture:

  • Clear vision or purpose: A shared purpose means a company works together towards a common goal. You can often find this on a company’s website.
  •  Defined company values: Values are behaviours and beliefs, e.g. one of our values is ‘United’. We’re inclusive. We work together and support each other. Values are a great way to gauge how a company’s employees will behave.
  • Values diversity and inclusion: Everyone should feel included in a workplace. Companies with a positive culture value diversity and inclusion and will make an effort to make everyone feel like they belong.
  • Celebrates people: Work culture has much to do with how highly a company values staff. Company achievements are important, but championing the people that make success possible is paramount.
  • Invests in health and well-being: Great workplaces take care of their staff’s health and well-being, e.g. access to a gym, mindfulness sessions, providing mental health education and support.
  • Organises social activities: A company with a healthy work culture will organise social activities to nurture the community and promote a sense of belonging. You can find evidence of social activities on a company’s social media or website.
  • Cares about their community: A company with a healthy work culture will prioritise their community by engaging in activities that contribute to the well-being and betterment of their surroundings . You can find evidence of their community involvement on a company’s social media or website.
  • Prioritises career progression and personal development: Great mining companies offer opportunities for employees to learn and grow and invest time to enable employees to reach their goals.

We know leaving university and starting your career can be daunting, but we hope this article has given you the confidence to begin your job search. Remember, there is no wrong decision. As long as you have a positive attitude and are willing to learn and grow, you will enjoy a successful and fulfilling career in mining.

Macmahon is the contractor of choice for some of the world’s largest mining companies. Our mining graduate program provides hands-on experience and structured learning with a supportive team. Find out more here.