Case study

Aviation engineer — Nathali Lekam

Nathali made the most of her summer placement at a multinational engineering firm, and was later offered a graduate role

How did you get your job?

I studied for a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering at Nottingham Trent University and graduated in 2015. After completing my second year, I applied for a summer placement at AECOM. Subsequently, AECOM offered me a full-time job as a graduate engineer due to my hard work, enthusiasm and the understanding of civil engineering that I had gained during my time at NTU. Currently I am studying part-time for an MSc in Transport Engineering at Imperial College London.

How relevant is your engineering degree to your job?

The civil engineering degree at NTU allowed me to build strong technical knowledge, with the opportunity to apply it in real-life scenarios, which helped me tackle day-to-day challenges in a work environment. The course subjects you to the obstacles that you may face in every day working life, giving you the opportunity to undertake practical projects, site visits and work placement opportunities.

What are your main work activities?

One day, I could be developing a range of engineering scheme solutions for initial concept or detailed design for implementation. The next day, I could be supporting senior team members for client and stakeholder interfaces.

What are the most challenging parts?

As I work in a multinational company, communicating effectively and efficiently can be the most challenging, especially when trying to coordinate designers in Hong Kong, while the survey team in New Delhi collects data and relays the information to the UK teams.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into aviation engineering?

Apply for a summer placement as there will be a greater chance of getting a full-time job or work placement. Employers love people that have had previous industrial experience, even if it's only for a few weeks.

When there is an industry speaker in one of your lectures, introduce yourself to them, take their details. You never know, they might have a job opportunity for you, as this is what happened to me.

Go to workshops aimed at perfecting your CV, to make sure you are getting the most out of it. Go to careers fairs that are hosted by the university and make sure you have CVs as well as business cards.

When you apply for a graduate position, make sure your graduate development programme allows you to switch to different teams quarterly, as this will give you more exposure and allow you to determine the field you would like to work in, at the end of your programme.

Check the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) website before applying for a graduate position, as it will give you tons of general information relating to graduate roles, salaries, chartership, etc.

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