You spend a lot of your waking hours at work, and so it’s crucial to find a company that you are happy working in. If you’re engaged and satisfied at work, the idea of a 9-5 day fades away and you become excited about achieving new things and continuing your professional development. The key is finding a company that fits both your career development and your personality, and will allow you to grow both personally and professionally.

I’m going to explore some of the factors I’ve found important in identifying a good company, and fitting into a workplace. First, I’ll run through my education. I attended Balwyn High School from 1998, and graduated in 2003, studying maths and sciences, English, French and PE in Year 12. I enrolled in Arts/Engineering at the University of Melbourne, studying mechanical engineering and a major in French. I decided in first year that I wanted to do more maths subjects, and transferred to Science/Engineering, which I completed in 2009, with two majors in applied and discrete maths, and first class honours in engineering.

I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work after I graduated, and so I continued working full-time in a graduate position at a large bio-med company where I’d worked part-time during my final year of university. I was interested in control engineering, and the area I worked in was related to the batch processing of large quantities of medical products. I found the work interesting, and my colleagues were very friendly and helpful. However, I quickly found that the technical content of the work wasn’t very stimulating once you’d become familiar with the programming environment. There was also a company culture of avoiding change due to heavy government regulation.

I’d heard about AMOG during my final year of university by striking up a conversation with a young engineer at an Industry Night. I submitted an application and was invited to an interview. From the first few minutes of the interview, I immediately knew that this was a company I’d like to work for. The people interviewing me were smart and interested in what I’d learned at university, and answered all my questions about the company. This is my first bit of advice - at an interview, in between the parts where they quiz you about your credentials and your people skills, make sure you ask them about the most important thing to your future happiness: no, not the starting salary - the culture. Ask if there’s a rigid start/end time, social activities, if there are any senior managers who started off as juniors. Ask if you can have a walk through the office and meet a few people, and try to get a feel for the vibe of the office.

If you walked through AMOG’s office, you’d see a lot of people working intently, with a low hum of conversations as people gather round someone’s desk to discuss a technical issue,or the latest World Cup results. Everyone knows each other, which is one of the nice things about working in a medium-sized company. The CEO and MD are regularly around, helping out with a difficult problem or just discussing the weekend’s activities. We organise social events, from an informal lunch with a few people to company dinners at the MCG. A few months after starting at AMOG I helped create AMBUSH, a hiking group, and we’ve gone on 25 camping trips all across the state. I also joined the Social Committee, helping organise Beer and Pizza nights every month and the annual Christmas Party.

It’s very important to find a company that will help you meet your long-term career aspirations. You can’t put in high-quality work and develop good relationships if you know you’re using your job as a stepping-stone to something else. Also, your company will want to give you room to grow so they can keep you long-term. AMOG sends employees to courses and conferences around the world, sends junior engineers to satellite offices such as Houston, and encourages young engineers to meet and develop relationships with clients. AMOG is also supporting us junior engineers in obtaining chartered status with Engineers Australia.

Finally, probably the most important element to your long-term satisfaction is compatibility with your company’s values. Lots of companies have Mission Statements or a Company Charter. It’s harder to find out how your company behaves in practice. At AMOG, we’re encouraged to delve to the bottom of issues, to never leave problems unresolved, and to complete the highest quality work possible. AMOG is a company where senior managers will always listen to junior engineers, and where people will give you credit for a job well done, or give you a hand if you’re having difficulties.

That’s the kind of company I want to work for.