Developing Future Leaders at Downer

Our talent strategy is about developing future leaders who could potentially take on a range of leadership roles.
We believe our programme is a great way to develop and accelerate leadership skills and to help individuals develop competencies they may apply to roles beyond the two-year programme.  
We know that in our changing environment our customers demand leadership thinking, agility and action.
So it’s our job to develop leadership potential with you and it’s important to start early in your career.  That’s why we offer our graduate's career leadership opportunities across our business.
We have an award-winning comprehensive two-year graduate programme, a hands-on summer intern programme and a selection of scholarships that will help you get the experience you need to succeed in the industry.
We are looking for people who will take ownership of their personal and professional brand, have agility, are bright and intelligent, pursue problem-solving with energy and look beyond the obvious to find a solution.
We hire “the whole person” so this means we are really interested in you! Your academic transcript is only part of what we look at.  Don’t forget to tell us about your extra-curricular activities, your community involvement, your vacation and weekend work.  It all counts.
So be prepared for us to ask you these following challenging questions because we are looking for people who can answer them with confidence.
Own your career, own the journey
  • Where are you going in life?
  • What would your friends and family say about you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What excites you?
  • What do you find hard or challenging in life…and what exactly are you doing about that?
  • Do people know what you stand for and why?

We hire students studying


Available Positions

Own Your Summer

Here from some of our interns, who are owning their summer! 

Brittany Stewart 
Site Engineer – Christchurch
“A typical day usually means an early start in the office where I catch up on yesterday’s events on the network, review the quality assurance and costs of the previous day’s work. Every day is different and plans can change suddenly due to external factors such as weather and other incidents. Most days involve communicating with the client, consultant and closely with our own team both in the office and out on site. Reviewing cost and quality are a large part of my role to ensure the contract is meeting its performance requirements. 
I did both my practical and professional internships at Downer. The best part of my internships was the large variety of work I got to do both on-site and in the office, every day was different. I got to apply the skills and knowledge I had learnt at university to practical applications and later apply what I learnt at Downer to. Downer is full of opportunities to get involved with a large variety of different areas of work and where aren’t always stuck in an office, which is why I decided to join the Graduate programme.
My advice to get the most out of your summer is to give everything a go even if you have to jump on a shovel. Ask questions to everyone you meet whether it be managers in the office or the workers out on site as you can learn different things from all of them.

Taylor Molcsan
Site Engineer – Auckland
A majority of my work is based on-site managing and working with internal and sub-contractor crews around health and safety, quality assurance and programming. So I’m not always stuck in front of a computer screen. Working with a high-profile client like Auckland Airport has given me a good taste of the importance of our impact on the public and local stake-holders. 
The skills and experience I picked up from my internship has been invaluable to my work as a  graduate. The internship programme is a great opportunity and I would advise any new interns would be to get your hands on as much work in as many different areas as possible! My summer internship was spent in the Wanganui Depot. I had the opportunity to gain experience in a number of different areas from design, estimating, construction management and testing/quality assurance. Every bit of experience you can get really gives you a head-start later on.

Our Award Winning Programme

Rotations through the business 
Our talent strategy is about developing a group of future leaders who could potentially take on a range of leadership roles. We know the best way to do that is by exposing you to the wider business before you specialize in one area. Rotations into different business communities under different managers are key to your development.  Currently, our Graduates are working across New Zealand and the Pacific region and are developing technical, commercial and personal skills. 
Young Professionals Mentoring Programme
Downer has an established network of mentors across our business communities. As a Graduate, you will be partnered with an experienced senior leader who has time to meet with you on a regular basis to help you set future career goals and find your way as a graduate.

Young Professionals Conference
Every year we invite Graduates to participate in the Young Professionals Conference. This is a two-day event that incorporates professional development, team building, networking, and technical updates.  Our Executive leadership team also attend and join in with the conference, networking and even the early morning boot camp!
Our last conference focused on “Your vision: Our future” Downer recognizes the importance of graduates contributing to the Downer strategic plan now as they will be leading the Downer of the future.
Engineering Forums
We know professional registration is important and encourage our graduates to become Chartered Professional Engineers. We run forums across New Zealand to help you in getting there. Forums are designed for our graduates to bring their portfolios of evidence for review and receive feedback and guidance from Engineering NZ recognized assessors on their paperwork. Managers are also encouraged to attend and provide support to the wider Young Professionals network. 
The forums are a mix of education, informal networking and plenty of pizza!

VSA (Voluntary Services Abroad)
As a Downer Graduate, you may get the opportunity to travel, by working on one of our Pacific projects or contributing to our VSA partnership in the Solomon Islands. 
Did you know Downer has an exclusive partnership with VSA – no other Graduate Programme in New Zealand can offer you this partnership experience!
We believe that our partnership with the VSA is a game changer for graduates. By recognizing that young people want more out of their jobs, we are a step ahead.
All our VSA young professionals have come back to Downer requesting greater leadership roles. We have seen them take on larger projects, ask to work more independently, taking ownership of a complete project and offering to work in remote areas of New Zealand with confidence. 
With young professions returning to work and talking about their experience, applications for our VSA programme are increasing.
Hear from some of our Graduate Engineers:

Young Professional Initiatives

Wāhine Kotahitanga

Hack our Future

Own Your Next Steps

The Difference is Downer


Build Our Future

Stand in the Gap

Own Your Experience

Downer recognizes hard work and great results. Every year, Managers across Downer nominate Graduates for awards who have demonstrated excellence in Leadership, Project Management, and Technical Solutions. 
We encourage our future leaders to be the best in everything they do and we enjoy celebrating their success. 
Here’s what some of our previous winners had to say about their experience at Downer:
Oliver Haultain
Graduate Engineer (Hamilton)
“Downer"I did two internships with Downer before beginning the graduate programme. Being in and amongst the business early helped me to understand the broad range of work we do and establish a network of people I could go to for support. This has directly added value to my work as a graduate, making it easier and more enjoyable.

A typical day for me starts with checking I have everything ready for the days meetings and planning focused hours where I can work on the tasks assigned to me. Currently, this is creating and reviewing designs for local roads and construction projects. I am in constant communication with my managers and other colleagues to make sure I am on track and meeting the requirements of our internal and external clients.
If you’re an intern coming in, don’t be afraid to ask questions and have conversations with those around you. You’ll be surprised by what is out there and what you can get just by asking. Be the yes man and give everything a go. It is a great time to figure out where your interests lie."

Brad Mairs
Graduate Engineer (Christchurch)
“Downer“I completed my professional internship with Downer on the Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 2. This internship provided me with the essential skills and experience to transition into a contracting engineer and therefore helped me to decide that this was the direction I wanted my career to take. I found that I enjoyed work that required time on site and seeing first-hand how construction projects came together, which helped persuade me to join a contracting company and therefore apply for the Downer Graduate Programme.
As I am primarily based in the office in my current water rotation, my typical day starts with a meeting online with my team spread around the country and catching up on emails and required work. The rest of my day varies depending on the work my team is currently involved with. This might include a site visit to a job site, project management of a job from the office or writing/updating plans for a client. I also have involvement with several operations and maintenance contracts which require can reactive responses throughout the day. 
My advice to interns would be to take advantage and say yes to as many opportunities as an intern as you can over the summer. This will provide you with the most exposure to the contracting business and therefore help to inform you when deciding to join the Graduate Programme. It will also show your manager that you’re keen to learn and are willing to give new things a go, which will only progress your career ahead!"

Catherine Gu
Graduate (Wellington)
“Downer“My summer internship with Downer was my first experience in the construction industry. I enjoyed being based on-site and being able to learn how things were constructed, which I found was a great supplement to learning primarily about design at uni. I decided to continue with Downer because of their excellent graduate programme, and because I enjoyed being seeing things being built and knowing I played a part in it.

When I’m working on a project site, my day starts with a crew briefing where the supervisors and engineers brief everyone on the activities happening that day. I would then spend some time in the site office communicating with clients and suppliers, ordering materials, doing forward planning with my team, working on my assigned construction packs and collating QA. I like to visit site intermittently during the day to see how the subcontractors and crew are getting on, and do any tests or inspections required. Every day has its unique events and issues to work through, with weather and construction challenges often popping up. 

My advice for incoming interns would be to always ask a lot of questions, people are usually more than happy to pass on their knowledge to someone who wants to learn something new. Also, don’t be scared of trying new things. There’s a wealth of support and knowledge within Downer, both within your team and at an advisory level, which I’ve definitely utilised over my time as a graduate and intern. And remember that even if you’re site-based, dress like you’re an engineer."