Learning new skills with a summer placement

With a number of Waterman employees starting their careers with work experience, undergraduate placements, university sponsorships or internships, we are actively working to provide an exciting and challenging opportunity for the next generation of engineers to contribute to real-life projects at every stage of their career – whether a student is unsure what GCSEs or A-Levels to study, or those looking to obtain more knowledge in a working environment after graduating.

This summer, four diverse individuals joined our office in London for a range of assignments lasting between two weeks to two months.

Working within our structures team, Oliver Heneghan used the summer holidays to learn more about engineering before he started his third year at Swansea University. He said; “Having just finished my second year studying civil engineering, I knew a fair amount about the theoretical aspects through my lectures and career fairs, however, I saw my nine-week placement as a great opportunity to learn more about the practical side. I hoped to gain more knowledge about what it takes to create the structures around us whilst working for a large-scale company in London.”

With Oliver now looking for different sectors within the industry to discover a specialist field to work towards in the future, Wataru Nakamura similarly took on a four-week placement within our infrastructure & environment team to further his understanding of flood risk design as part of a Study Aboard scholarship ‘TOBITATE! Young Ambassador Program’ that he was fortunate enough to receive from the Japanese government. When discussing why he wanted to come to the UK after studying in Japan, he explained; “I am now in the first year of my masters at the Institute of Urban Innovation at Yokohama National University after spending the last year of my bachelor’s degree working within a coastal engineering lab, carrying out research related to water quality estimation using a satellite in Tokyo Bay. I wanted to apply what I’ve learnt within the real world and was lucky enough to secure a placement with Waterman’s flood risk team to understand how the UK engineering practises coincide with those in Japan. I now know for certain that I will enter a doctoral course back home and will keep practising my English because this experience has made me want to advance my research and come back to the UK if I get the chance.”

By no means the only person to travel abroad for work experience, Pooja Sreekala Ajay joined our structures and infrastructure & environmental teams after graduating in civil engineering and working for five years as a civil engineer in India. She commented; “After studying civil, structures and geomechanics engineering at university, I considered coming to the UK because I wanted to understand the working practices in the construction sector, improving my knowledge about construction management, practices, policies and procedures because they are slightly different back home.”

Although some people may view a summer placement as a stepping stone within their careers, many have returned to Waterman throughout their studies and gone on to work within our offices around the UK and overseas. One such person was William Wisbey who previously joined our structures team in 2018. When asked why he wanted to come back for an additional eight weeks, he explained; “Before I started studying at the University of Cambridge last year, I only knew about engineering through my work experience. It’s not a subject that is generally taught at schools and that’s why placements are so valuable to people looking to study engineering. I wanted to learn more about the functions of a structural engineer, how their expertise along with financial and design motivations influence the solution they end up delivering. This time around, I’m hoping to explore new skills as well as applying what I’ve already learnt at university, and possibly picking up a few ideas for the work I’ll be doing next year.”

Each of our placements were keen to develop their skills within software such as Bluebeam Revu, Tekla Tedds, GIS, MasterSeries and Autodesk Revit, all of which they used to assist with the modelling and design of buildings on site. By working alongside mentors in Waterman who understand these programmes, Oliver and Pooja were able to apply their theoretical studies to live projects such as the Rich Industrial Estate in Bermondsey and Halloway Prison Redevelopment near Camden Town. When describing how these new skills exceeded his expectations, Oliver said; “I didn’t think I’d be assisting with major projects that are actually being built. It showed me how important our work is and also taught me more practical skills such as communication, making me feel like I was a part of the team and not just a summer placement.”

Reflecting on her experience, Pooja expressed her gratitude to the team; “The mentors and staff have been incredibly helpful throughout my time at Waterman. The most important thing I’ve taken away is the guidance I’ve been given by each member of the team on how to achieve my goals and pursue a long-term career in structural engineering. I now have a clear idea of my next steps.”

If you would like to find out more about a placement before you apply, please get in touch with our HR team.

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