The days of working in one job in one field for the rest of your life are a thing of the past for most people, as Attanayake (Nanditha) Perera can attest to.

Attanayake studied to be a marine engineer for three years in his homeland of Sri Lanka, then graduated as a trainee.

He worked as an engine cadet and after 12 months of getting experience at sea, had his full qualification.

However, at age 31, he was ready for a change, and moved to Sydney to be near his sister. The year after, he met and married his soulmate.

“I wanted to change my career to mechanical, as it’s related to marine,” Attanayake says. When I was in my 20s, being a marine engineer was fun. It’s a good job with a good salary, but I wanted to do onshore jobs, rather than offshore. The main reason was I didn’t want to go to be at sea for months on end. It was ok when I was single, but after marrying it was not possible.”

Attanayake did an Advanced Diploma in Engineering (Mechanical) at Sydney TAFE and graduated with the excellence award in his studies.

After completing his Diploma, he decided to further his education, so he enrolled in Chisholm’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology.

“I got an offer from Western Sydney University as well, but I chose Chisholm because of the practicals,” he says. “I did some research with past students and they convinced me that Chisholm was the best option because of the practical element and the support from teachers. Engineers need that practical knowledge.”

Attanayake says he loved the variety of subjects in his bachelor’s degree and found the Chisholm community very welcoming. He made loads of friends, many of whom were fellow Sri Lankans.

“The teachers have been very supportive,” he says. “If you don’t understand something, you can ask for help and they will assist straight away. It’s a very good teaching staff.”

Attanayake did amazingly well academically at Chisholm, achieving a solid track record of high distinctions and distinctions. He received a $1500 merit-based economic scholarship for international students from the International Department of Chisholm and was nominated as Vocational International Student of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.

“I was not expecting that one,” says Attanayake. “It is a great honour for me to at least be nominated.”

When Attanayake’s not studying, he likes to watch cricket and listen to music.

He also works in aged care as a general service officer in the kitchen. It’s a bit of a juggle working and studying, but he makes it work.

Once Attanayake completes his degree, he hopes to land an interesting engineering job.

“I would love to be a technology assessor, design engineer or maintenance engineer,” he says. “I have experience in maintenance, having worked in ship machinery, so hopefully that helps.”