Case study

Graduate engineering geologist — Joshua Fox

Geotechnical engineering is a great fit for Joshua's love of working outdoors. Find out if his role would be right for you

How did you get your job as an engineering geologist?

I initially joined South West Geotechnical as a technician, before applying for a graduate role within the company six months later. Having already spent time working for them made the application process easier, as I knew all about the company and the work they do. They also knew more about me, and that I was capable of good quality work.

What's a typical working day like?

I usually get to site around 8.30am and will then spend the day coordinating drill times and equipment. This includes setting everyone up to dig pits and drill. Sometimes, I won't have met the operatives before so I have to put a bit of time into getting to know people. Then I write up the logs.

Generally I spend three days on site and two in the office. Office work involves things like finalising site plans, sending samples to the lab and writing up reports on all of the site investigations we carried out.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working outdoors (even in the rain!), so it's the perfect role for me. I get to travel all around the South West visiting sites in places I've never been to before, so that's a lot of fun too.

What are the challenges?

You really have to be prepared for the travel, which can mean significant time away from home. My role also involves quite a bit of responsibility on site for health and safety, which put the pressure on sometimes.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My applied geology degree involved a lot of field work, which has been invaluable for this role. I was also trained to use software packages such as ArcGIS which have been really useful too.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I'd like to gain more experience so that I can run bigger projects which might be more complex. Eventually, I'd like to become a chartered geologist.

Any words of advice for others looking to get into this job?

Geotechnical engineering is hard work. It's not a 9 to 5 office job and often involves early starts, late finishes and time spent getting to all the site locations.

Get experience wherever you can and be open to stepping-stone jobs that you might think are less interesting or not at graduate level. The experience you gain can help you move on to the role that you're really interested in. This is also helpful if you have a particular company in mind, as it gives you a foot in the door. You'll often have an advantage when applying for jobs as an internal candidate and this may make it easier to secure your dream job.

Keep up to date with the news for anything related to geology, such as the bridge collapse in Genoa. Things like this can be really powerful in an interview, and show that your interest in geotechnics extends outside of working hours.

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