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My Cadet Perspective: Lifelong Learning with Maninder Singh

October 06, 2022

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance with a passion for sharing, learning, and mentorship

Stantec in New Zealand (NZ) pays cadets to work for the Company as well as paying their student fees, meaning graduates come out debt free, work-ready and qualified.

Maninder started his cadetship in 2014, and while working for Stantec, the Company also supported him to complete his NZ diploma in engineering (civil) in 2015 at Northtec Whangārei. Stantec Aotearoa’s cadet scheme is an incredible opportunity to work for a professional services firm while studying.

Now? Maninder is a senior transportation designer in the Whangārei office. Read his My Cadet Perspective story below to get inspired and join us!

5:00 AM

The alarm rings to the ringtone of “Bella Ciao” and it’s time to start the day. I get up, pour a cup of water and a cup of milk into the pot and put it on the stove. I turn the stove to medium heat while I go get freshened up. Within 15 minutes, both the tea and I are ready. I pick up my phone, put the earphones on and play an audiobook.

6:30 AM

Since my better half is having her eight hours of sleep interrupted almost every hour by our little treasure, the kitchen is in my hands. I open my meal planner and see what I had planned for lunch today and get cooking.

7:30 AM

I have a shower and get dressed. The baby is awake, and I change him while his mum starts her morning. She’s not working today since this is my office day. She works the weekends as well as Wednesdays and Thursdays when I work from home. 

8:45 AM

I prepare my bag in which goes the lunch and a couple of pieces of fruit. It’s almost time to leave for work and the baby knows it. He is already at the door while I’m putting on my shoes and earphones. I spend a few minutes playing with him and start my commute.

9:00 AM

Finally, I’m out the door and I ask my wife to pass the umbrella. I grab it and start my walk to work. I love the opportunity to walk to work. It takes about 15 minutes which are spent listening to audiobooks. And it’s a clear breaking point between home and work life. 

9:30 AM

I quickly go through my emails, respond to the ones where a simple reply is needed, file some away to relevant folders, and leave others unread (25 of them today).

10:00 AM

It is time for the only commitment I have in my calendar today: session 5 of Māori Language Week. Today’s session is Waiata Mai: a sing off competition. I haven’t prepared the song. My teammates practised it and prepared the song last Friday when I was sick. The whole session turned out to be quite fun. It reinforced my belief that music has no language. And I feel proud of Stantec for understanding the importance of Māori language.

Coming from a place where culture and language are given immense importance, I cherish the belief that while everyone should feel proud of their own language, they should have a special place in their hearts for other languages as well. And this has been reinforced throughout this week with every day’s session focusing on different aspects of the Māori language.

11:00 AM

I prepare a coffee and get back to my desk. I open Civil 3D and start working on Molesworth Drive Shared Path. This is the biggest project I am working on at the moment. I’m completing a concept design of the shared path, and it’s challenging—that’s exactly what I love about engineering. We’re given problems and we find solutions.

1:30 PM

After a couple hours of focused work, I’ve managed to complete 200 metres (656 feet) of shared path design and modelling. During this time, I helped one of our graduate engineers with some queries. I love teaching and mentoring. Through him, I am re-living the times when I had first started with Stantec as a cadet. My peers were immensely helpful, knowledgeable, and always ready to help. 

2:00 PM

The graduate engineer joins me for a walk after lunch. It is a nice sunny day. On our way back to office, I ask him if he was enjoying his work so far. He only joined us six weeks ago. I felt happy hearing that he’s loving everything about Stantec, from the type of work he’s getting, the support with his visa applications, mentoring from peers, and our company culture. Suddenly, I remembered the times when I applied for my work visa and residency. Stantec supported me at every step of the process. 

3:00 PM

The office manager calls the whole team for a coffee break. I was feeling the need for a boost anyway. There are four of us in the office today. The fifth team member is helping the Nelson office with emergency works. We all prepared our drinks and gathered in the lunchroom. We briefly discussed how our weeks went and what we were looking forward to for the weekend. Māori Language Week was the highlight of the week for all of us.

6:45 PM

It’s time to log off. Since I’m the last one in the building, I put the dishwasher on, check the locks, set the security alarm and lock the main door. I put my earphones and play music this time. Immersed in the wonders of music, I walk back home to be greeted by my son’s enthusiasm to see me after so many hours. 

7:45 PM

Time for dinner. I am preparing chickpea salad today with tomato, onion, avocado, broccoli, and an orange—and spices, of course. It takes me about half an hour to prepare the dinner and the whole family sits together and enjoys the meal while talking about how the day went.

9:00 PM

A whole day of eating and drinking means there are a fair number of dishes to wash. We haven’t got a dishwasher and do not plan to buy one either since this is the last activity of my day which is an opportunity for me to take in some learning and cool off. I put my earphones on, play the audiobook, and immerse in the satisfying task of doing the dishes for the next 45 minutes.

9:45 PM

While I did the dishes, my wife was busy putting the baby to sleep. I went to bed around 9:30pm, having earlier prepared two small cups of spiced milk which we sip in the rather cold night having a beautiful conversation to finish the day—and it’s peaceful.

10:00 PM

I set my alarm and hop under the blanket. Reflecting on how the day went, I quickly doze off.

Maninder started studying towards a bachelor of engineering from the University of Southern Queensland via Open Polytechnic New Zealand, but since becoming a father in 2021, he’s put that on hold and plans to complete it in 2023.

If you want to learn more about how to join Stantec and reach a work-life balance like Maninder’s, visit our New Zealand Graduates page.

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