Dhanya Himaja first heard about Ribit when she was studying to complete her Masters in IT at Macquarie University. A talented international student, she joined Ribit’s community because despite her impressive credentials and experience, she was struggling to find part-time work in Australia that was relevant to her studies.
In Ribit’s latest success story, Himaja tells us about the awesome roles she landed through Ribit, what she’s learned, and how these have shaped her career.
For those who would like to hear it directly from Himaja, you can watch the highlights in the video interview here.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your topic of study…
My name is my Himaja. I completed my undergraduate degree, a Bachelors of Electronics and Communication Engineering, in India. I had plans to pursue a Masters because I wanted to specialise and develop a very keen focus on one particular area, rather than putting myself into multiple boats.
I did a lot of research before deciding to apply for universities overseas. I found that Macquarie University offered a course which met all the criteria I was looking for.
I received a Macquarie University (MU) Vice Chancellor’s scholarship of about $10,000. MU also offered an additional $5,000 to women pursuing studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which I was also fortunate to receive. So in total I received a scholarship of about $15,000 to help me pursue my studies.
In 2020, I graduated with a Master’s of Information Technology from Macquarie University, with a Distinction – which I didn’t expect, given I was studying in a new country.
How did you find the experience of studying at university?
The best thing about studying was the culture and infrastructure.
University is very diverse, welcoming students and faculty from countries all around the globe. You get to experience new and interesting cultures, meet many individuals, and get to know their stories of life. The university encouraged students to engage in various extracurricular activities, like sports or debating. There was a strong focus on the overall development of a student, I would say, which would help them in their professional career.
MU had great infrastructure; there was high speed Wi-Fi everywhere on campus, and the campus itself was huge. So you can easily find somewhere to sit after your classes and get your assignments done.
There were definitely some difficult parts about studying at university though. Getting used to the teaching style in Australia, which is very different from what we have in India, was a difficult adjustment. I found that studying here focussed on giving you higher level insights into many topics, and your results depended on how much extra research you do in the subject, whereas in India you have a lot of spoon feeding. Although it was difficult to adjust, I found that in the real world, that’s how it is. It all comes down to self-learning.
How did you prepare to find work while studying or as you approached graduation?
At the end of the day, international students have to pay their bills, and we can’t always rely on our families back home.
Before I moved to Australia, I knew this would be the position I’d be in. So, I had tried to plan my career in such a way that I wouldn’t find it difficult to get a job in my area of expertise once I moved overseas. Right after my graduation I worked for about a year and a half as a software engineer in India, just to gain some professional work experience.
Then when I moved to Australia I thought, ‘okay now that I have experience, why wouldn’t I get a job,’ but the reality hit me really hard after coming here.
International students can work about 20 hours a week (40 hours a fortnight) due to our visa limitations. So finding a job in the IT industry was quite a challenging experience.
I ended up getting a part-time job as a waitress in order to support myself. Until one day, a friend of mine said, “You know there’s this website called Ribit. Why don’t you just go there and look for any part time roles that suit your skills and your work experience.” So I headed back home from work, created my Ribit account and saw that there were so many opportunities for students, which I wasn’t aware of.
I completed my entire profile, my skills, previous work experience, education, and qualifications and I started applying to some roles. I didn’t really hear back from anyone because I applied during the Christmas break when most companies are on leave. Right after the Christmas break I received a message on the Ribit platform from a company called Grow Asset Finance who had invited me for an interview.
That role was for a very short duration because we were working on a very small project, and right after that project I had to head back to university again for my classes. But that was the first company that I had received an offer from as a part time software developer. I didn’t know that I could make it and work in the IT industry, while I was a student, so I was quite elated.
After that I got another opportunity with a pretty good startup called Trendspek. It’s a drone based asset management company, and they wanted to hire someone for their internship program and posted the job on Ribit. I continued to work with them even after the end of my master’s program.
I didn’t have to look back after that. I gained the Australian work experience I needed and knew that finding a job after the completion of my studies wouldn’t be that difficult for me.
Tell us about Trendspek and how you worked as a team…
Trendspek is a drone-based asset management company. They have a drone service provider as one of the sister organisations, called Hoverscape. They make asset managers’ jobs very easy, by allowing them to use Trendspek’s software to identify defects on huge infrastructure.
For example, let’s take a solar power plant or a thermal power plant. For a human to go and identify defects in such a huge infrastructure is just inefficient. So what we do is send some drones in; the drones capture images, and as software engineers, we perform analysis on those images to identify the exact location of a particular defect. Asset managers can use the software to identify defects and can even do predictive analysis to protect the infrastructure from further damage.
Trendspek is relatively small or ‘startup-sized’ and this meant I was able to work effectively across the whole team.
Where is your career going from here?
Thanks to Ribit I gained a lot of local experience, and because of that I found it easy to find a job right after I completed my masters, even during a pandemic. I received a job offer from a startup called Nano Home Loans. They’re based in Sydney and I started full-time work with them in January. Right now things are going really well; I’m getting to learn, I’m getting to explore and I’ve made really good friends at my workplace and I have a wonderful team.
I think I would like to probably grow in my area of expertise, and I would like to see myself as a technical project manager in five years or six years. Something where I’m leading a project with a team of creative minded engineers, software developers, programmers, and testers.
I would also love to contribute to the Ribit and IT community in every way possible. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends who are still looking for a job to just go to Ribit and find something that can match with their skills. And some of them did get a job! It’s a wonderful marketplace for all students, especially international students who think that getting an IT job or a proper office/tech role is almost impossible.
Have there been any standout moments in your career or in your university experience you would like to share?
During my time at Trendspek, I spent some time working on one of their USPs which they’d been working on for over 15 months, but hadn’t really seen much improvement in. One of the key USPs for them was to identify the exact defect point from the images that they had captured, which was programmatically quite challenging because it not only involved someone to sit and write the code, it also required someone to have a proper background in engineering with very strong mathematics and science understanding.
Since I had a blend of both engineering and computational skills, they thought I would be very valuable in solving the issue so they just said, ‘you know what, just give it a try and see if you can figure it out.’ So I reviewed a lot of mathematics research papers, the imagery captured and the algorithm. It took me about two or three weeks to figure out what the problem was, and how I could bring them a better algorithm to find the exact defect point. When I updated the algorithms and was able to successfully identify the specific defect, they were really elated because this was one of their key unique selling points, and they had been working on it for nearly a year and a half. I consider that as my biggest achievement because that’s when I really felt that I had added value to the organisation.