Case study

Graduate civil engineer — Nicholas Bishop

Nicholas's degree has paved the way for his success as a civil engineer working towards chartership

I studied for an MEng Civil Engineering with an industrial placement at the University of Birmingham. I now work for Skanska UK - a civil engineering company that specialises in contracting - as a graduate civil engineer.

I joined Skanska while I was studying at university. I approached them and they offered me sponsorship during my four-year course. Once I graduated, they offered me a job as a civil engineer and enrolled me on to their training scheme with the aim of becoming professionally qualified as a chartered civil engineer.

During my first two years I was a site engineer on a high-profile construction project. My main responsibility was to manage areas of the construction site. It was my job to understand what we were constructing and making sure it was being constructed safely and on programme. This typically involved working closely with subcontractors, giving them information, setting out where to build the structure and monitoring progress.

In my third year I worked as a designer for Skanska. This is where I could put to use what I learnt in my degree. It was my job to design structures or parts of structures. This was typically done with a mix of maths, problem solving and technical drawing.

What I enjoy most about my role is that you get to own a project and say 'I built this', and it's usually something large that will be there for 150 years. I enjoy being part of an industry that is more important than most people think. We deliver the running water, power, roads, bridges, tunnelling and railways. Take these away and imagine what the world would look like.

The industry is still developing; there isn't a set way of doing things because every project is different, so you can make more of a contribution and make your mark in the industry and company.

Civil engineering is an industry that you get out what you put in. If you want a job where you can just turn up, switch off and pick up your pay cheque, this isn't for you. In my opinion, civil engineers are fairly rare because it's an unpopular subject and I guess it doesn't have the glamorous media coverage of other industries and you need to be intelligent.

The job satisfaction I get from civil engineering is something I have never had from past jobs and it will prevent me from wanting to do anything else. Think carefully how important this is to you.