Work has been really slow the last couple of weeks and that’s been really frustrating to be honest. I had some concerns about whether I was really happy in my job and getting valuable experience. I was actually really low for a while and highly stressed but then I decided that instead of cowaring in my office and bemoaning my fate, I was going to step up and do something about it. So I made an appointment with my Project Manager to discuss my concerns.

Rather than getting angry at me, or thinking my problems were unimportant, he listened to everything I had to say and I felt that he really understood where I was coming from. It helped that it took me about a week to build up the courage to go and see him, and by then I had my emotions under control and had thought through exactly what I was going to say. He asked me to summarize everything in a short email for him to think about overnight.

The next day he gives me a ton of small tasks to do (including putting together an information document explaining how a project unfolds to semi-skilled/ unskilled labourers in order to manage hiring expectations-this was really interesting because is sometimes difficult to make things really simple and requires understanding and empathy-and loads of pictures!). The next day was even better-my PM calls me in and tells me there is another project just starting up involving the build of a beneficiation plant a mine up the road-and that he thinks it the perfect opportunity for me to get all the design experience I need!
The project involves the design and construction of a mini-plant that will upgrade the chromite ore we mine to the correct size and concentration before sending it to our smelting plants to melt into Ferrochrome for sale.

Today was the kick-off meeting with the mine’s engineers. A colleague of mine, A.N. who works on our smelting plant next to our Projects offices is a metalurgical engineer graduate who did a very detailed anaylsis and optimisation of a crushing and screening plant at the smelter. The (incredibly impressive) work he did is really similar to the beneficiation plant we’re building on the mine, so we managed to smuggle him into the kick-off meeting too (yay, friends!).

The project is really intersting-both mettalurgically and mechanically-and has many exciting design-features. The schedule is super-tight though, which means I am going to be working my cute butt off pretty soon (I honestly cant wait – I’ve been in withdrawel). The topography (lay of the land) is also quite a challenge and it was fun visiting the site and joining in the brainstorming session about what should go where to maximise efficiency. The project is really in the concept-generation phase still (which is totally the best and most creative part!) and the site is a green-field (completely untouched hillside).  After the meeting and the site visit, the (senior metalurgist) engineering manager invited A.N. and I to his office to give us more background into the plant. I’ve realised that information-transfer between experienced and young engineers is so important. I love listening to these old dudes go on about how things that we take for granted (the plant we work on/ the process that governs it) were developed (by them) and the awesome things they have achieved over the years. Its very inspiring. It was great, although trying to follow the conversation between metalurgists was challenging. I’m learning a new aspect of engineering though, which is great.

I am once-again really happy with what I do and feel lucky to have such an amazing job that lets me create, solve problems and colaborate with great minds. I am really glad that I addressed my issues with my Manager. I cant believe how much your working environment can affect your happiness and how easy it was to set things right again. My advice to anyone who isn’t loving what they’re doing-don’t just quit. Calm down and have a good, clear chat with your boss. Try and sort it out before losing hope – you’ll never know if you don’t try.