Case study

Acoustic consultant — Lily Nikolova

After graduating from her degree in music studio technology from Solent University in 2014, Lily worked for a few companies before being headhunted by her current employer

How did you get your job?

I uploaded my CV to a jobs site. It was spotted by recruitment agents Calibre Search, who then contacted me about the job opportunity. I work for Cundall, in the acoustics team.

What's a typical working day like?

At the beginning of the week, my team and I have a meeting to go through our ongoing jobs, prioritising the ones which are most urgent or will take the longest to complete and making sure everyone is comfortable with their individual tasks.

We collaborate with architects, interior designers, mechanical and electrical engineers on most projects by reviewing their drawings, specifications and reports, and by issuing ours to them.

On other days, I work outside the office to gather data for the projects I'm working on to later process, assess and report, or to attend design team meetings, where internal and external members of the design team gather, discuss common issues and make decisions on the next steps in the process.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The mixture of office and on-site work. The nature of my work is such that it offers a wide variety of projects to get involved in - education, workplace and residential developments, to name a few.

The thing I enjoy the most, however, is having the opportunity to break out from the office environment and attend development sites for inspections, surveys and design team meetings. This introduces a great deal of variety, keeps my day-to-day working experience interesting and I avoid getting fatigued from monotonous desk work.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenge I find at work is something I do as an extracurricular task.

In order to keep myself continuously learning and developing, I try to stay up to date with relevant problems affecting our industry or to identify the skills that are currently underdeveloped in my team. I then attempt to do independent research into these (e.g. learning to use new software or researching a new calculation method for certain type of assessments), which involves creating a strategy, finding time to execute the work, micromanaging the process and so on.

These are things I am currently struggling to do effectively, however I believe gaining more experience will help me improve.

In what way is your degree relevant?

While the taught material is not directly relevant to my current job, it did introduce me to the basics of how sound and acoustics work, on which I could easily build on more specialised knowledge.

The best thing my degree offered, to make me more employable, was an abundance of work experience opportunities where I could get hands-on experience and make connections with people in the industry.

How has your role developed? What are your career ambitions?

I worked for several companies full time before my current position, which has enabled me to explore different sides of the acoustics industry and how to apply them best in the engineering world. My short term goal is to finish my postgraduate degree.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

You should always put yourself first when it comes to work. You will meet people you do not like who you may have to work with on a daily basis. Remember that everyone can teach you something you don't know, so try and maintain good relationships for your own benefit.

Enjoy it. You are likely to spend more than seven hours of your day at work so make this a pleasant experience for yourself as much as you can.

Always ask if you aren't sure. If you're struggling with something, it's likely that someone else has struggled with the same thing before you and will know how to handle the problem.