• 24 November 2016

“Experimenting with software I hadn’t used before was challenging but rewarding…it puts the importance of the calculation tutorials at university into perspective”

Freya Bowen joined our structures and infrastructure & environment teams for a six-week internship.

After studying civil engineering at the University of Edinburgh for two years, I was ready to see how the knowledge I’d learnt transferred into the real world of engineering. Waterman was a great starting point for my career and I am grateful to have secured a six-week internship within two of their departments.

At university you often find yourself being taught a lot of theories and formulas, tutorials seem to be number crunching, and you find it hard to see how it all relates to ‘real life’ scenarios. Luckily the design modules I study create a great opportunity to experiment with what I’ve learnt, but working at Waterman has provided me with valuable experience and a head start amongst my fellow classmates.

As this was my first experience in an office environment, it has also given me an impression of what working in London is like – I now understand the true meaning of ‘rush hour’ after experiencing the jostled queues to get onto a tube!

My time within structures helped me experience the thought process when addressing design problems as I witnessed ideas being suggested, disregarded and explored. Seeing the process in which this happens is currently helping me with a module at university, and has expanded my skills where I had limited experience beforehand – such as designing steel beams and pile caps using Eurocodes. Learning and experimenting with software I hadn’t used before was challenging but rewarding because it puts the importance of the calculation tutorials at university into perspective.

Throughout my time with the infrastructure & environment team, I was introduced to several projects where I looked at the complexity of the drawings and computer programmes. This was a little overwhelming at first, but after further explanation I could see the importance of the detailing. I was given several scenarios in which steel, concrete beams and foundations needed to be designed and comparing my hand calculations to the computer software was eye-opening. Although using the software was a quicker process, it doesn’t necessarily tell you how to improve your selection or why your selection was failing – I now appreciate the need for the theories I have learnt at university.

My internship with Waterman was a vital experience which has not only helped my future career prospects, but has also allowed me to achieve an Edinburgh Award – dedicated to recognising students who are developing and reflecting on their skills through internships or placements whilst studying. With so many students competing in the graduate job market every year, I am so proud to be receiving this award alongside my degree when I graduate.

To anyone who’s considering applying to work at Waterman, go for it! They’re a well-recognised consultancy and are very approachable. My advice to students would be to immerse yourself in new opportunities, be willing to ask questions, and most importantly, be prepared to learn new skills that will guide you in the future at university and at work.

Freya Bowen

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