Case study

Civil engineer — Sarah

Sarah recommends choosing your civil engineering discipline carefully as the profession covers so many fields

How did you get your job?

After graduation I initially worked for another engineering design consultancy as a graduate engineer. Three years later I moved to Jacobs and into my current role as an engineer.

I am driven with the idea that my design solutions will be constructed and will physically benefit the environment its inhabitants

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My civil and environmental engineering degree at The University of Edinburgh covered a vast range and depth of topics. I studied hydraulics, water resources, structures, project management, steel and concrete design, finite element analysis… the list goes on.

Many of the theoretical courses I learnt at university have been beneficial to my current role. In addition, the skills I developed throughout my course, such as effective group work, communication and time management, have proved invaluable.

What are your main work activities?

Tasks and priorities continuously change as the project I'm working on develops. A typical day may involve marking up engineering design drawings, writing scope reports, completing costing estimates, developing programmes, hosting meetings with clients or colleagues or planning site visits. The only thing that is ever consistent is that I always learn something new.

What are your main career ambitions?

Since my first role out of university I have developed as an engineer and professional. I have more responsibility with delivering both financial and technical aspects of projects, as well as mentoring colleagues. I am working to become a professionally qualified engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and hope to sign off all my development objectives soon.

What do you enjoy about your job?

So far within my role as a civil engineer I have really enjoyed working with real life projects. I am driven with the idea that my design solutions will be constructed and will physically benefit the environment and inhabitants around it.

Also, I love working in the water and utilities sector as I truly value clean water and adequate sanitation provision and am fully aware of its important role within our society.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

My role requires me to be flexible as requirements often change. At times this can be challenging as I'm keen to see something I've worked on be constructed. However, I recognise that not everyone is lucky to be exposed to multiple projects and roles like me.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

I would recommend trying to get work experience while you are at university. Not only does this look great on your CV, it also gives you a good idea of what to expect. Choose your discipline carefully; civil engineering covers so many fields so it is advisable to think about what you are most interested in.

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