Laura Denver says that she “just didn’t want to become one of those people who had nothing interesting going on in their lives.” This is certainly not something likely to be said about Laura’s career as ‘a blasting engineer’, which is just as cool as it sounds. She is currently completing seven years with Orca – the world’s largest producer of explosives. She’s in the construction and mining industries now, but she started out - like so many others - at Kincumber High School.
Laura believes in back-up plans, and she had more than enough of those during her high school years. Before graduating in 2005, Laura was involved in every extracurricular she could get her hands on; MUNA, schools sports carnivals, SRC, formal committees. She was top of her class, and involved in air force cadets on the side.
With so much going on, Laura says that she often struggled with stress, “I would regularly break down in the library or the toilets … I didn’t tell anyone how stressed I was because I didn’t want to be treated differently but it was a pretty tough time for me.”* Despite being spread so thin, Laura says that she enjoyed school, and that it was “my oasis away from home … I was lucky with my friends and teachers being the amazing people they were.”
During the HSC, Laura studied physics, chemistry, engineering studies, three unit maths, advanced English and after graduating, she went on to study mining engineering at the University of New South Wales. Living on campus in a college made Laura the confident person she is today, and helped her get through some very tough coursework. She says it’s worth doing – if you can manage to afford it!
"Every time I have a new challenge coming up I always ask myself if I am doing enough preparation, if I have missed a key detail, what more could I do and is it worth it?"
Laura says that it is extremely important build good networks everywhere you go; “I told people what I wanted to do so that if the opportunity came up, they would think of me as an option … helping someone today or being kind to someone could lead to you achieving your dreams down the track. All the successful people I know have the loyalty of their friends and coworkers because they’re good people as well as being awesome at their jobs. Don’t be a doormat, but don’t be a jerk either.”
Laura stayed focused, and showed her peers that she could manage long hours and working with difficult people. She has now worked with Orca for six years in Perth, Brisbane, Newcastle, South Australia, Hobart and in Brazil. She has been a part of the construction of the Legacy Way tunnel in Brisbane and the new Gurner building in Brisbane, and countless other projects in Australia. Unfortunately, it’s a bad time for mining and Laura has to look to other career options which will make her happier, require less travel and still pay the mortgage on the house she purchased in 2015.
As of October 2017, Laura will be an air traffic controller in the Airservices learning academy. She says it’s the perfect job for her; “There’s lots of pressure and its incredibly important not to get things wrong. Which is the kind of job that gets me up in the morning!
Laura believes that success is the result of planning, and old fashioned hard work. She says that “you need to be prepared to work harder than your competition for every job interview, promotion, bike race… whatever. Every time I have a new challenge coming up I always ask myself if I am doing enough preparation, if I have missed a key detail, what more could I do and is it worth it?"
As she embarks on the next chapter in her career, Laura wishes she could tell her fifteen-year-old self that she would go through at least two careers by the time she was 30, “so being told that you aren’t good enough for your childhood dream is ok. You haven’t failed anything. Start working on a back up dream job (or six) and work towards that at the same time.”
Editors note: all students will experience degrees of stress in the final years of school. Talking to friends or teachers about this can be very helpful. It shares the load and lightens the burden. However, there are always times when seeking the help of a qualified counsellor, whether at school or through an outside service is more effective in helping you through tough times.