Engineering Faculty regulations require all engineering students to complete a minimum of 12 weeks vacation employment at approved organisations and to prepare a satisfactory report on their experience. It is a compulsory requirement of the Bachelor of Engineering degree. This work is normally undertaken during the long vacations at the end of the second and third years of the course, but approved employment during the long vacation following first year may be considered for credit. The vacation employment may be split into two periods (6+6 or 8+4) but only one report is required. In general, twelve weeks of paid employment in a University department, or in an industrial laboratory or a laboratory such as those of CSIRO, is accepted by the Department of Materials Engineering but the subject matter of the report you need to write is not that of a research report. You must assess the organisation essentially as an industrial unit. There is no restriction on the country in which experience is to be gained, as long as that experience can be suitably documented. Students who believe they have previously completed a suitable period of employment and submitted a report to another educational establishment may apply to the Department to have that experience recognised on re-submission of the report, or copy of it written in English (with the required Certification page). Under certain circumstances, other prior experience may be recognised on submission of a report of the required form.

Objectives of Vacation Employment

The objectives of vacation work experience for students are:

  1. To gain direct knowledge of engineering practice;
  2. To gain an appreciation of your future role in the engineering profession;
  3. To gain experience in writing a technical report.

As a student, you will be in the unique position of being able to ask questions of all types of people from unskilled labourers (in which group you may well be placed) to, possibly, the leading executives of the organisation. The jobs may also assist you in selecting the branch of materials in which you may wish to make your career. In this latter regard, it is suggested that you may be wise to seek quite different jobs in each of the vacations despite any preference you may have (e.g. metals or plastics; industrial plant or research laboratory).

Points of Contact

Ms Michelle Laing (Student Services Co-ordinator)
Ph: 9905 5697  Email:

The responsibility for seeking jobs rests with you, although the Faculty and the Department do distribute information as it arrives. Information on what is considered suitable work for engineering students is also available if you need it. However, you will benefit directly from the experience of searching for and identifying work opportunities, preparing an application, being interviewed and finally, negotiating (if need be) the terms and conditions of employment prior to commencement of work.

Remember that many of the bigger and longer-established companies use vacation employment as a way of finding possible future staff. You might be surprised to know how many of the first positions obtained by graduates in engineering have followed from Vacation Employment.

Finding work

Students are responsible for finding their own employment. To obtain work for the following summer vacation, you will need to begin this process by the middle of the year. Many organizations place advertisements on campus and elsewhere in June/July and finalize their arrangements by August/September so applications. Writing applications for vacation employment should therefore be one of your tasks in the break at the end of Semester 1. You could consider applying for work in Government departments and utilities companies, for example, water, gas, electricity, EPA etc., plus local government authorities, mining companies, petrochemical companies, engineering contractors, consulting engineers, and industrial and manufacturing companies generally. Do NOT just look for advertised jobs. Only companies with an established policy of recruiting staff directly through the University are likely to advertise positions which are recognisably vacation positions. You should make a list of companies to target and write to them. To help you get started there is a list of companies which have employed materials engineering students attached to these notes.


Keep in touch with the Careers and Employment Office for vacation employment advertisement and information. That’s what they’re there for! The Careers Office internet address is:

Because many employers use vacation employment as part of their recruitment strategy, students who are not Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents may face greater difficulty in obtaining employment. This is rarely a matter of prejudice, but is a matter of commercial reality. For this reason, it may be a good strategy for overseas students to target companies which have activities in their country of origin. You do not know which they are? Careers and Employment has a running list of such companies and has an International Careers Counsellor dedicated to meeting your needs. If a mid-year International Careers Exposition is repeated, this will be advertised through Careers and Appointments.


Any student may choose to look for vacation employment overseas, and students from overseas may wish to combine vacation employment with a visit to their home country.

The Monash Careers & Employment Service provides a comprehensive employment and careers service to students, graduates and employers. A wide range of facilities, programs and resources are available to students and continues to be free up to six months after completion of your degree.


The following websites may also be useful sources of information

The employment sections of weekend newspapers may also provide useful background on companies that employ engineers or placement agencies that handle engineering positions. Finally, you may have family members or friends who own or operate an engineering business, who work in an engineering firm or in a large corporation that employs engineers. Talk to as many people as you can and seek their advice on opportunities that you may not have considered.

At second level, students could well be involved in work requiring responsibility for measuring properties, as in routine testing, or quantities involved in processing. Students who have completed third year should be capable of performing straightforward investigations under supervision. Students who have completed second year may find more difficulty in obtaining employment than those who have completed the third year of the course and may need to take less skilled employment in a relevant industry,. Remember, it is not the position you occupy, but the ability to observe, to analyse and to evaluate, which will determine the value of your vacation employment to you, and its acceptability to the Faculty. (Supervision by an engineer or other suitably-qualified professional is required.)

If you have any doubts about the suitability of your proposed employment, you should consult Dr. Qizhi Chen, particularly for those positions not obtained through the Faculty or the Careers Office.

Applying for work

Generally an application consists of a one-page covering letter, a curriculum vitae (CV) and an academic transcript. A sample letter of application for vacation employment is given in Writing for Science: a practical handbook for science, engineering and technology students (Silyn-Roberts, 1996 pg. 170) (available in Hargrave-Andrew Library at 808.0666 R587W). The covering letter should be brief and to the point, including the following:

  • The name of your university, your course & your year level
  • What you are seeking – ie. Vacation employment
  • The relevant dates that you are available to work
  • Your contact details for interview or further information
  • Why you would like to work for the particular organisation
  • Something about you – ie. What aspect of engineering you hope to specialise in, or what particularly interests you.

Be sure to check spelling, grammar and company details carefully! Long, wordy letters will not be read!
The Monash Careers & Employment Service can provide assistance with preparation of CVs and application letters.

A golden rule is to find out as much as you an about the company to which you are applying. Although this advice is more for those applying for a permanent position, and your ability to be informed when you are applying to a large number of companies is limited, you should ensure that you know enough to demonstrate some interest. How can you make a convincing case for employment if you know nothing about your potential employer? The reason many smaller companies employ a vacation student is that they have some specific task in mind, and you will need to show that you are the person to undertake it.

Work experience employment

1. Remuneration

As an engineering work experience student you should have a realistic idea of what you are likely to be paid and the terms and conditions of your employment. A source of valuable information is the APESMA website ( which provides indicative engineering graduate salary ranges and for undergraduate vacation work. In some cases you may receive a slightly higher hourly rate because you are on a `casual’ employment rate which does not provide paid holiday leave. Whilst it is important to ensure you are appropriately remunerated for the work undertaken you must take into consideration that you are gaining valuable industry experience and you are not fully qualified. It is important that you seek clarification of these matters during discussions with prospective employers and that you have confirmation in writing of the terms and conditions of employment before commencing work.

2. Occupational health and safety

Whilst your health and safety during vacation employment is the responsibility of your employer, Monash University is committed to the principles of occupational health and safety best practice.

Please read the document on student placement in this handbook.

Remember also that if you are asked during your employment to undertake a task which you believe to be unsafe, you should consult a member of the relevant Company safety committee, especially the Employee representative and you should refuse to undertake work under conditions which do not conform to OHSE requirements.


You are required to submit a report on your vacation employment. Preparation of reports is a valuable exercise which requires you to sift out relevant information and to present it in a manner that will allow the reader to gain a clear insight into what you did and the part you played in the overall function of the organisation. It should be arranged logically, with appropriate headings, sections, diagrams, photographs, and with due attention to neatness, precise language, grammar, etc. The report should be of about 2,500 words and be presented, stapled in a manilla folder, with the following  information on the front cover.

Name of student Designation of Position
Year of course Type of work
Employer’s name and address Period of employment (dates)

Reports are to be submitted to the Engineering Faculty Office –not the Department. It will be forwarded to the Department for approval and your satisfactory completion of the requirement will then be recorded by the Faculty. If your employment is at two different companies, only one report is required, but certification of employment up to 12 weeks in necessary.

Do not leave submission until you apply to graduate – and then expect that certification of your completion of the Vacation Employment requirement will not delay your application!


The following should be covered in the report

  • An outline of the employer’s business and how it is organised (brochures may be included if they complement your report appropriately). This could include statements of the business in which the company is engaged, the business and managerial structure of the company, an analysis of the reasons for its location in relation to availability of space, services, transport, materials, markets, labour etc.
  • Your observations on the interactions between management and staff, management and engineers, engineers and technicians and finally, between engineers;
  • An outline of the project's in which you were involved;
  • A brief description of the actual work you did, i.e. the part YOU played in these projects;
  • Specific examples of how you applied some of the knowledge you have learnt in your course.
  • An outline of any special activities provided by the organisation (e.g. trips).
  • Your assessment of the value of the vacation job.
  • Salary paid.

Remember, although an account of what you did in your employment is required, comments on the technical and other activities of the company in which you were engaged, showing your appreciation of the wider picture of the company, and its objectives, is more important. (How were technical activities initiated, planned, assessed, controlled? Production and scheduling methods; a description of the procedures for allocation of projects\jobs, monitoring of work in progress, how progress was evaluated to ensure timely completion within budget, management of quality, all merit comment.) Analysis of ergonomic factors, occupational health and safety practices, work practices, industry standards, techniques employed, are all relevant and inclusion can add depth and value to your experience.

The purpose of Vacation Employment is to add an additional facet to your preparation/training for the engineering profession, rather than just be a form of the laboratory work you undertake in the University.

Note: You are asked to outline projects to which you contributed. If your employer considers any of this information confidential, you should first submit a draft copy to your employer to obtain approval.

Report Writing

Report writing is an important skill required of the professional engineer. Particular attention should be paid to expression, spelling and grammar, but also to the structure and layout of your report. You should plan your material so that it flows in a logical progression with an introduction, the main body of the report appropriately divided into sections, and a conclusion. Each section of the text should be identified with headings and sub headings. Remember this is a formal report, so write formally! Avoid slang and colloquialisms; and avoid contractions (such as it’s, isn’t, didn’t, there’s). References on report writing are available in the Andrew-Hargrave Library under Dewey classification code 808.0666. A highly recommended book on writing reports is Writing for Science: a practical handbook for science, engineering and technology students, written by Silyn-Robert, and published by Longman, NZ, 1996.

Please also refer to the Faculty guidelines on writing the vacation employment report.


Your completed report is the basis on which the Department will firstly, assess whether you have satisfied the work experience requirement and secondly, whether as a technical report it satisfactorily covers the points set out above. Reports that are assessed as satisfactory will be returned to you with an appropriate notation to this effect. The Faculty of Engineering will then be advised that you have fulfilled the work experience requirement and your student record will be updated.


Substantial use has been made of the Guidelines for Vacation Employment issued by the Department of Mechanical Engineering and some material has been quoted verbatim (by permission of A/Prof. J.B. Hinwood) without further acknowledgement

The following is a sample of the many companies and organisations which employ materials engineers

  • Alcoa
  • Air Liquide
  • Alcan
  • Altrium
  • ACI Glass Packaging
  • ACI Fibreglass
  • Arthur Anderson Consulting
  • ABC Radio
  • Accenture
  • Alinta Ltd.
  • Bosch
  • Boral Industries
  • British American Tobacco
  • BECA Engineers
  • Bluescope Steel
  • BHP Billiton
  • Boston Consulting
  • BASF
  • Comalco
  • Coal and Allied
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Chemplex
  • Concord Engineering
  • Ceramic Fuel Cells
  • CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology
  • CSIRO Molecular Science
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers (Monash)
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures
    DMO (Commonwealth Defence Dept.)
  • DSTO (Commonwealth Defence Dept.)
  • Deloitte
  • ESSO Mobil
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Ford
  • Holden
  • Hanson Construction
  • Hatch
  • Honeywell Ltd.
  • HRL Technology
  • Hawker de Havilland
  • Kraft
  • KAALKBR (Kellogg, Brown & Root)
  • Lloyd Phillips
    Muncipal Association of Victoria
  • Melbourne Water
  • Masterfoods
  • Montell
  • Metal Treatment Services
  • Moldflow Pty.Ltd.
  • Nissan Casting Australia
  • OneSteel
  • OricaOptiscan
  • Pyrotek
  • Perkin Elmer
  • Qantas Airways
  • Quenos
  • Rimberger
  • Shell
  • Southern Dental Industries
  • Schlumberger
  • Sinclair Knight Merz
  • SMEC Australia Pty.Ltd.
  • Transfield Services
  • Tomago Smelter
  • URS Australia Pty. Ltd.
  • Unilever
  • VicRoads
  • Western Mining Corporation
  • X-Ray Technologies Pty.Ltd.
  • Xstrata