The DOXA Cadetship Program supports talented young people from challenging life circumstances to complete university and gain the skills needed for an employable future.

At SEMZ we are proud to have partnered with DOXA since 2018.  With a significant number of Education facilities in our project portfolio, we’re excited by the opportunity to contribute to the education and future of students in the industry.  As a Cadetship Program partner, SEMZ plays a vital role in this journey – one which many young people describe as life-changing.

Joining SEMZ as a Doxa Cadet in 2018, Nikola Canoski (Nik) has embraced the opportunity to gain industry experience, quickly becoming a valued member of the SEMZ team.  Asked to reflect on his time at SEMZ so far Nik smiles “It’s been a very positive experience. This past year and half especially has been unreal.” 

Discussing his childhood, it’s clear that Nik has overcome adversity, embracing opportunities and thriving throughout his studies in Melbourne.  “I was born in Macedonia. I was nine when my family came to Australia.  The opportunities in Macedonia are very limited and I’m the first person in my family to go to university.

I had very limited English when we came to Australia and my parents put me straight in to the local Primary School and I had to do my best to learn English and interact. It was hard at the beginning, but the kids and teachers were supportive.  I had no choice but to learn, so I did!” 

Progressing through high school and now in the final year of a Bachelor of Construction Management at RMIT University, Nik’s can-do approach has again led to success.  Talking openly about the challenges he faced initially in the corporate world, it’s clear that Nik has developed personally and professionally over the past two years.

“The early days here were quite challenging for me. Both of my parents come from non office/corporate backgrounds, so over the first couple of months there was a big adjustment for me in getting used to and feeling comfortable in the office environment.”Not one to back away from a challenge, Nik decided to just jump in and ask questions.  “I’m a student, this is my best chance to ask and learn.”

With the end of his degree now clearly in sight, Nik is grateful for the experience and context he has gained.  “Working at SEMZ brings a lot of context to my learning. Material taught in a lecture sometimes doesn’t correlate with the industry, and other times it really does. In one subject we have to write a tender and I have worked on tenders here. For me the cadetship experience has heavily skewed towards the work experience helping with study, it’s made studying so much more interesting because it’s not just a concept, it’s real world stuff.”

Finding the right career path can be difficult and it’s not unusual for a student to complete a degree and then discover that they’re better suited to another field of work.   One of the benefits of the program for Nik has been gaining certainty that he’s studying in a field he is passionate about “I always knew that I wanted to manage people and projects, being a cadet has re-affirmed that Project Management is the right career for me.”

Having overcome stressful situations throughout his studies, Nik is grateful for the certainty SEMZ offers him after graduating. “I’ve gained extra maturity from being in the work place. It took the stress out of having to find a graduate position while studying and I can focus and get so much more out of the lectures and tutorials without the stress. I am so happy to have been offered the opportunity to stay on here at SEMZ as a Project Co-Ordinator.”

Doxa was established in 1972 by Father Joe Giacobbe, a young priest who worked with some of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged communities. Fr Joe was well known to say ‘The only way to achieve something is to start’ – a saying that resonates very strongly with Nik. “I’m so glad I did take this opportunity, I committed myself to getting the most out of it, and very early on I put my hand up and asked to attend meetings and shadow Project Managers.  From there it built up to the point where I am now working on the McKinnon Secondary School project. I have built confidence without having to take on responsibility for a project – a sneak peak for how projects function and I have learned through osmosis and observation.”

Reflecting on the cadetship experience with SEMZ, Nik is clear that he has benefited from being a part of a boutique firm.  “Partnering with a boutique organisation (SEMZ) has given me so much more opportunity to get involved.  Right from the start here everyone has known me a ‘Nik’ rather than ‘the Cadet’ and that’s been great. The progression opportunity is clearer here than at a large multi-national where I may have still been shredding documents and taking minutes.”

“My proudest achievement at SEMZ is working on the VSBA McKinnon Secondary School project  – being on the Project Management team of an $70M school is just amazing!  I don’t know any other 22 year old’s achieving this, It’s awesome.

My parents are interested in what I’m doing and are so proud and happy for me, it’s a great feeling.”

Nik’s advice to any students considering a Doxa cadetship – “Just do it! Don’t be scared to jump in and always ask questions.  You’re a student so it’s your chance to ask and learn. Everyone here is happy to help.”

Looking forward towards graduating at the end of this year, Nik is ready for the next step in his career. “I’m very excited. Seeing the dynamic here in the office is unreal.  I really like being here and I’m counting down the weeks until I can be full time. “

In concluding our chat, Nik offered his thanks to everyone at SEMZ for contributing to his experience. “I just want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to take on so much. It’s been awesome and put me miles ahead. My outlook would be so different if I hadn’t had this experience.”

While it’s clear that the DOXA experience has been beneficial for Nik, the experience and opportunity to make a tangible difference has been enriching for the wider SEMZ team.  Working with Nik on a number of projects, Project Director Tom Warne envisages a bright future for Nik. “Nik has seamlessly integrated into the SEMZ team. His attitude and appetite to learn and improve his skills is a real asset to himself and SEMZ. We look forward to continuing to support Nik through his final semester of University and cannot wait for him to start as a full time Project Coordinator at the end of the year.” 

Thank you to Nik for your dedication and willingness to learn and contribute, we can’t wait to see your career develop.

As an organisation, SEMZ highly recommend partnering with the Doxa Foundation Cadetship program.