Melissa Harrington was deciding between Civil Engineering and Geography, until her Geography teacher, an alumna herself, suggested Surveying as a career option.
“I love the outdoors, problem solving, working with people and technology. Surveying is a good balance between hard skills and soft skills and I like the challenge of both!”
After learning about the career opportunities internationally, the technology being used, as well as the role surveyors play in shaping communities (locally and globally), she felt surveying would be a great fit for her interests in travel and spending time outside exploring and learning new skills.
“And, Otago is the only place in New Zealand where you can complete a Bachelor of Surveying. That clinched the deal for me!”
“It is a well-known fact that the Surveying School has a nice community feel and the classes are small, meaning you get to know everyone in your class. The School is highly regarded among the surveying profession internationally, and lecturers and professional practice fellows are both welcoming and experts in their field”, Melissa praises.
During her time at Otago Melissa was a Class Representative and in her final year, the University of Otago School of Surveying President.
“Through this, I was involved with the organisation of events for the Survey School and an invited guest to the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors Council Meetings – a fantastic opportunity for me”.
Melissa is Product Applications Engineer at Trimble Inc., a world leading technology company that delivers core technologies for a broad range of industries such as agriculture, construction, geospatial and transportation and logistics.
“I am part of the Rotational Development Programme - a unique 2-year leadership programme for high performing young professionals, where you move every 6 months into a different role. I have been involved with testing leading edge GNSS technology, defined future products as a Product Manager, worked at Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) as part of their Knowledge Team in Technical support, and my last rotation will be a role in sales, travelling North America (and internationally) to sell technology solutions to Trimble customers.
Throughout her career Melissa has also been involved with the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, the NZIS Young Professionals Group and now the International Federation of Surveyors as the incoming Chair of the FIG Young Surveyors Network. She has written articles for magazines within the Surveying and Spatial Science in New Zealand and now in the USA; and received the Bogle Young Surveyor of the Year award for her contribution to the profession, as well as being a finalist for Young Professional of the year in the New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards.
“The things I love about my job the most are, the people, the travel opportunities, and playing a key role in defining the future technology to be used by surveyors. I relocated to Boulder, Colorado last year in October and will be travelling within North America and internationally as part of my current role. What a great way to travel the world!”
“There are many opportunities for a University of Otago School of Surveying Graduate. The skills and knowledge obtained through a Bachelor of Surveying are very transferable within New Zealand and internationally. You can be a Cadastral Surveyor, a Construction Surveyor, a Hydrographic Surveyor, a Project Manager, a Planner, a Teacher, a software developer and the list goes on.”
If you are interested in Surveying as a career, Melissa recommends contacting a local Surveying company and visiting their office, and gaining some work experience. It’s helpful to have some practical knowledge when you are studying Surveying. She also recommends getting involved with the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors and their Young Professionals Group. They are a welcoming group that will provide you valuable information about surveying in New Zealand but also internationally.
“What’s next for me? I aspire to be better every day, and what is most important is that I am in a team where I am making a difference, being constantly challenged, surrounded by passionate people, and that I have a supportive mentor.”
“I once read a reference letter by a School of Surveying Professional Practice Fellow that said “No one can go as far in the surveying profession as Melissa…” This is something that I will always remember, and for me the sky's the limit – it can be yours too!”