CQUni alumnus Jessica goes full steam ahead on career podcast

Published:27 May 2020

CQUni alumnus has recently launched a careers podcast called STEAM Ahead.

CQUniversity Engineering alumnus Jessica Kahl has embraced the online space during the time of COVID-19 by bringing a brand-new careers podcast on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) opportunities for school leavers. 

The STEAM Ahead podcast shares stories from men and women with careers in STEAM fields so that young people can be informed on how to shape their futures.

The career chats with industry leaders in STEAM fields are designed to give young people a greater understanding of their career pathways post-school.

This is especially important with at-home learning during COVID-19 as the episodes highlight how the application of skills being gained are applicable in industry roles - thereby showing the link between 21st Century skills learned in school to employable skills sought from industry.

Jessica, who now works as a Civil Engineer for Aurecon in Brisbane, is the Managing Director and Founder of Dream Big Australia, which recently launched the 'STEAM Ahead' Podcast.

“The idea of starting a podcast was realised when COVID-19 began in Australia. Although our physical gathering for scheduled Dream Big Events were cancelled, the conversations, the connections, the actions and above all, the movement towards empowering STEAM education continued. The need did not dissipate, it changed to a new medium – podcasting, which is now available to all students regardless of their demographic location,” Jessica said.

“We wanted to keep in touch with school students so that they could continue to connect with their futures through career chats – we figured a podcast was a great way to provide helpful tips and tricks for confidently choosing QTAC preferences.”

"Our vision is that the podcast enables young people to gain confidence to make informed decisions about subject selection and QTAC – and get motivated to plan their future career in STEAM."

So far on the podcast Jessica has interviewed Dream Big Australia’s John Searls on careers in Asset Management and others including Gladstone Regional Council Engineer Jessica Dennien, on being a female engineer in regional Queensland.

Moving forward, the podcast has an exciting schedule of episodes featuring industry leaders from their Partner, Energy Queensland - including a Career Chat with Peter Price, General Manager of Asset Safety and Performance at Energy Queensland. 

“Putting together the podcast has been a really eye-opening experience for how we can pivot our offering to still benefit students during social distancing,” Jessica said.

“There’s a lot more editing and scheduling than what you think. The best part about the podcast since our launch has been coming up with the relatable questions to make the content engaging, interesting and fun for young people."

“There’s a lot of back-end work, however, I’ve always had a real interest in podcasting and it’s been great seeing this all come together to inspire young people looking to plan for their futures.”

Since Dream Big Australia's formation, Jessica has collaborated with CQUniversity, hosting Dream Big Events across its campus footprint. 

The initiatives include events with young people such as Australia’s first STEAM Day in 2019, work experience programs and the 'STEAM Ahead' podcast which explores careers. Through their Education Advisory Board, Dream Big Australia develops ‘industry to classroom experiences’ to provide practical learning, networking and mentoring opportunities for hundreds of school aged young women. Throughout the past five years, they have delivered 23+ Dream Big Events and engaged over 400+ school students in STEAM related activities. 

In 2015, the Dream Big Project was awarded a ‘High Commendation’ under the Engineers Australia Gender Diversity Awards and the CQUniversity Opal Award for Engaged Service Learning and Excellence in Engagement.

Dream Big Australia's success in advancing gender equality was recognised in 2019 when Jessica was profiled by Engineers Australia in their Centenary Features for ‘100 engineers making a difference’. In the same year, Jessica spoke at the World Engineers Convention on the topic of ‘The next generation of STEAM leaders’ to provide insight to over 1300 engineering leaders from 70 countries on the importance of diversity and the different engagement strategies which Dream Big Australia uses to encourage young women into the industry. 

In 2014 Jessica worked with two other engineering students on ‘The Shelter Project’, which went on to win the inaugural The Big Idea competition.

Dream Big Australia is encouraging Schools and Career Officers interested in receiving further resources about the STEAM Ahead Podcast and Dream Big Events for young people to sign up here.

To listen to the podcast visit or on Apple Podcast